You’ve come to know the fortunate and the inauspicious stars, but you don’t know whether you yourself are fortunate or lucky. — Rumi
I’ve been thinking about luck lately. About being lucky or unlucky, rolling the dice, the concept of fate. About looking at life with a sense of good fortune or looking at life and seeing everything that is wrong with it. How much is up to us? How much is out of our hands?
I was in Las Vegas for a long weekend this month, where luck, in one form or another, is on nearly everyone’s minds. Las Vegas, the land of lights and booze, noise and shiny surfaces. Short days and long nights. Jackpots and empty pockets. It was quite the experience, to say the least.
I thought about luck as I walked through the casino and heard the shouts and laughter when someone won. I thought about luck as I walked down the strip at night and saw huddled figures in doorways and on cold, concrete steps. How much of this was luck?
I didn’t know if luck was on our side or not when my friends and I missed our initial flight to Las Vegas. Or when we drove through a pothole late one night on the way home and got a punctured tire and didn’t get back to the hotel until 6:30am. But then I saw people sleeping in the freezing cold, while I got to go back to a warm room.
Vegas unexpectedly shifted my perspective. Of course I had fun, dancing until 4am, seeing what there was to see. But it was all so… empty. The glittering lights looked gaudy in the light of day. The music in the club would eventually stop and the lights would come on and the moment was over. I felt lucky that I got to go home on Sunday, that this was not my life. I felt lucky for the life I do have.
Before Vegas, I wasn’t feeling so lucky. I was looking forward to the trip, to getting out of dodge, to shaking it up and letting loose. I had been working a lot, it’s a busy time in the industry I work in, and I felt burned out. I wasn’t feeling grateful or lucky when I woke up in the morning. I just felt tired. So Vegas, where I’d never been before, was beckoning.
But after the dizzying lights and smoke, the juxtaposition of Teslas and cardboard structures on the strip, I felt lucky to return home, where life feels… full. Real. Overwhelming at times, stressful yes, but real. And I realized that escaping from reality never works. But at least it can serve as a reminder. That we’re lucky.
We’re lucky to live, even if we’re stressed or overwhelmed. And I’m lucky to live in a place that’s more than shiny surfaces and loud noises. Where I look out the window and can see trees, not skyscrapers and billboards. I’m lucky that I’m not sleeping in a doorway in freezing temperatures. I also consider myself lucky that I’m not gambling all my money away on an intangible dream. But what’s luck, anyway? Did I get here because of luck or something else?
That’s what keeps me thinking. Why some of us are sleeping in doorways and others are driving Teslas down Las Vegas Boulevard. Why some of us look out and see trees and others wake up and see trash in the gutter. How much is luck? Bad luck? I don’t know.
But what I do know is that I don’t want to take any of it for granted. And I also know that trying to escape my reality never works for me. Yes, it’s fun to dance all night, and I am a wholehearted advocate of doing so, but eventually the music stops. And then what? Next time I take a vacation, I’m sure I’ll dance, but next time I want to see the stars.
I wish you a wild, free life.