Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 200: How lucky are you?

(Since I don't have any progress to report on my play while I'm waiting for the reading on Monday, here's a random topic).

My sister was preparing for an important job interview recently, and shared with me a question she had heard of a company asking in their interviews:

How lucky are you?

This question gave me pause.  How would I answer that, if I were asked that on the spot with no time to formulate an answer?

On a very basic level, compared to much of the world, of course I have to say I am unbelievably lucky. I was born white and middle class in the most prosperous country in the world, I have excellent health, I have the love and support of tremendous family and friends, I can afford to pay rent on my very own apartment in the greatest city in the world, I get to be creative.  These are no small things.  And there was a time in my life when I wouldn't have hesitated to say "tremendously."  Things came easily to me, I felt like I got most everything I tried for, I had a great and easy relationship.

But time and life have tempered some of that feeling of luck.   Having two major life dreams - an opera career and a marriage - fail despite years and years of diligent hard work and effort, can make one feel like you are not at the top of the luck pyramid.  Although, if I hadn't stopped singing opera and hadn't gotten divorced, I wouldn't be writing now.  I wouldn't have written this play that I am so deeply in love with and which has brought me so much pleasure and creative satisfaction to write.  So, perhaps those things were their own form of luck.

I think being in a field like the arts - where luck is such a huge determining factor in one's success - can skew one's perspective on what it means to be lucky.  It's hard to feel extremely lucky when, despite having the requisite talent and drive (and thoroughly busting my ass for it) I was never able to get the lucky breaks to make a career out of singing.  Nor have Kat & I - despite creating a great product and hustling like mad - been able to get producers to fall at our feet to produce our brilliant (if I may say so) concept for a time-traveling musical kids show.  And most recently, crappy actors who forgot half of my play robbed me of a very real chance to have a short play produced, or maybe even developed into a larger work.  When you work really really hard but still don't get the breaks, it is easy to feel unlucky.  One really has to take a step back and look at the larger picture to remember just how incredibly lucky I am.

Because truly, I am.  Beyond the more mundane I-have-clean-water-and-a-roof-over-my-head kind of luck, I have passion (and talent) for creative pursuits.  I have something I love to do - nay, need to do - that gets me out of bed every morning and keeps me constantly striving to do more and be more.  I have the drive and focus and mental acuity to accomplish the things I want.  Not everyone has this.  So yes, I am incredibly lucky.

Of course, to give myself a little credit, it's not all luck.  To share one of my favorite quotes:

"I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. " - Thomas Jefferson

So, how lucky are you?  I'd love to hear.
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