This week in Laos, we received a wonderful gift. My family and I were on our writing retreat, and Max was working on a video about a place called “House of Dreams.” They have six Lao village children who’ve come to live and study in the city, because otherwise there is no secondary education available – and no options for the future. The House of Dreams invited us to a special ceremony to thank us for helping them, and to celebrate our new friendship.
In one part of the ceremony, everyone tied special blessed cotton strings around our wrists, and we tied them on others’. During the tying, they gave us blessings and wishes for good luck.
The last few days, we’ve been wearing these bracelets of wishes, I’ve been thinking: What does it mean to be lucky?
I feel lucky just to have met these people, and to have experienced this sharing with them. Does “luck” require some visible outcome, or is “luck” really something inside?
We took a flight yesterday. We arrived safely. Were we lucky? The flight was turbulent – were we unlucky? Our bags all arrived, were we lucky? The bags were slow to get to the carousel – were we unlucky?
The children at the House of Dreams live on the edge of poverty – are they unlucky? These six kids, out of hundreds in their villages, were selected for this opportunity – so are they lucky? They work many many more hours, and in much more difficult circumstances, than do my children – does that mean they are unlucky? But, they are joyful and committed to working hard, giving back, and pursuing their dreams – something few kids ever really experience – so are they lucky?
“Luck” raises some big questions for me. What do we choose in our lives, and what is beyond our choice? Do we “make our own luck,” meaning it’s not something external?
Sometimes people talk about luck as a kind of “magical wish” that’s outside us. I don’t know if such a thing exists, but I certainly know that “feeling lucky” is a powerful force. Life happens, then we can choose how we feel about that. If we choose to feel lucky, we create a sense of abundance and gratitude – which reduce stress, increase optimism, and strengthen our ability to solve problems. Maybe that’s a really lucky way to live?