Do you think of yourself as lucky? I don’t, usually. I use the words blessed, or rewarded, or supported, when I feel grateful. And I use the words frustrated or stuck or unfair! when something happens that seems to set me back from a goal. But I never say lucky or unlucky.
I guess I like to think of myself as the “captain of my ship, the master of my soul,” instead of at the mercy of something as capricious as luck. I may take risks, but I’m not a gambler. (I know, a subtle difference!) Today, Kirsten Dierking’s poem made me rethink the idea of luck in a kinder, gentler way
by Kirsten Dierking
All this time,
the life you were
supposed to live
has been rising around you
like the walls of a house
designed with warm
As if you had actually
planned it that way.
As if you had
stacked up bricks
and built by mistake
a lucky star.
“Lucky” by Kirsten Dierking from Northern Oracle. © Spout Press, 2007. (Thanks, Writer’s Almanac!)
So many of us have a gratitude practice, a regular way to remind ourselves of the good things in our lives, and keep us grounded in the positive. Lately, my practice — evening meditation on the good of the day — has felt a little forced. It’s as if I am trying to enforce cheerfulness instead of gratitude.
Don’t get me wrong — gratitude generally cheers me up. But it’s only one side effect, and not necessarily the ultimate goal of being grateful. So when I focus on being cheerful, it feels artificial, ungrounded.
This poem reminded me that gratitude is a way of being not just a way of feeling or thinking. That maybe, instead of listing good things in rote practice, I should relax and notice the ways the life I was supposed to live has come to me “As if [I] had actually planned it that way.” But of course, I could not have planned the adventures and challenges that have come my way, no matter what I may want to believe.
It’s not that I’ve given up on working towards my goals, celebrating victories I’ve contributed to, facing problems with more resilience, practicing mindfulness, and all those other values I carry into each day. Far from it!