Aren’t You Lucky?


LIFE’S LESSONS

Henrylito D. Tacio

Mr. Tacio, who hails from Davao, is a correspondent of the Asian edition of Reader’s Digest. He is the first and only Filipino journalist to have been elevated to the Hall of Fame in science reporting by the Philippine Press Institute. In 1999, the Rotary Club of Manila bestowed him the Journalist of the Year award. He is also East Asia’s contributing editor of the People & the Planet based in London.

For comments, henrytacio@gmail.com


“It’s a question of attitude. If you really work at something you can do it up to a point. If you really work at being happy you can do it up to a point. But anything more than that you can’t. Anything more than that is luck.” – Haruki Murakami in Dance Dance Dance

What if the world is only a tiny village with a population of only 100, how would it look like? Philip M. Harter, a medical doctor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, tried to figure that out. This is what he found:

“Fifty-seven would be Asians, 21 would be Europeans, 14 would be from Western Hemisphere, and 8 would be Africans; 52 would be females and 48 would be males; 70 would be non-white and 30 would be white; 70 would be non-Christians and 70 would be Christians; 89 would be heterosexuals and 11 homosexuals;

“Six people would possess 59 percent of the entire world’s wealth (and all six would be from the United States), 80 would live in substandard housing, 70 would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, one would be near death, one would be pregnant, one would have a college education, and one would own a computer.”

The following is an anonymous interpretation:

Think of it this way. If you live a good home, have plenty to eat and can read, you are a member of a very select group. And if you have a good house, food, can read and have a computer, you are among the very elite.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more fortunate than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are fortunate, more than three billion people in the world can’t.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8 percent of the world’s wealthy.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer healing touch. If you can read this, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

Yes, I love to read – even when I am about to sleep. When I travel, I still read – while waiting for the plane or when flying already. Joan Lowery Nixon, author of “In the Face of Danger,” once wrote: “Life is not easy. We all have problems-even tragedies to deal with, and luck has nothing to do with it. Bad luck is only the superstitious excuse for those who don’t have the wit to deal with the problems of life.”

Aren’t some people lucky? Luck, whether good or bad, happens all the time. “That is life, isn’t it?” asked Kelseyleigh Reber in “If I Fall.” “Fate. Luck. Chance. A long series of what-if’s that lead from one moment to the next, time never pausing for you to catch your breath, to make sense of the cards that have been handed to you. And all you can do is play your cards and hope for the best, because in the end, it all comes back to those three basics. Fate. Luck. Chance.”

There are only two chances, indeed, if we have to believe people who place their bets on luck. As Hollywood actor Tim Robbins expounded: “There’s always the same amount of good luck and bad luck in the world. If one person doesn’t get the bad luck, somebody else will have to get it in their place.”

But on second thought, we never run out of luck. In “The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden,” Jessica Sorensen wrote: “Life is full of luck, like getting dealt a good hand, or simply by being in the right place at the right time. Some people get luck handed to them, a second chance, a save. It can happen heroically, or by a simple coincidence , but there are those who don’t get luck on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.”

I was reminded of the story narrated by Willi Hoffsuemmer. It goes this way: A dirt farmer worked his poor ground with one son and one horse. One day, the horse ran away. The neighbors commiserated with the farmer for his bad luck. “Bad luck?” the farmer asked. “How do you know it was bad luck?”

A week later, the horse came back with ten wild horses. This time, the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck?” he asked again. “How do you know it was good luck?”

Sure enough, some days later, the son tried to ride one of the wild horses and broke a leg. So the farmer lost his only helper. The neighbors gathered round to express their sorrow over the return of bad luck. “How do you know it was back luck?” the farmer wondered.

A few weeks later, war broke out and soldiers came around conscripting all young men. But they not take a man with a broken leg.

To end this piece, allow me to quote the words of Gary Paulsen, author of “Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass”: “All the luck in the world has to come every year, in every part of every year, or there is not a harvest and then the luck, the bad luck will come and everything we are, all that we can ever be, all the Einsteins and babies and love and hate, all the joy and sadness and sex and wanting and liking and disliking, all the soft summer breezes on cheeks and first snowflakes, all the Van Goghs and Rembrandts and Mozarts and Mahlers and Thomas Jeffersons and Lincolns and Ghandis, all the Cleopatras and lovemaking and riches and achievements and progress, all of that, every single damn thing that we are or ever will be is dependent on six inches of topsoil and the fact that the rain comes when it’s needed and does not come when it is not needed; everything, every…single…thing comes with that luck.”

July 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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