Just My Luck – Introduction
For whatever reason or more likely for no particular reason, I’ve had far more than my fair share of luck. Have I deserved it? Not really. In a just world certainly many folks deserve good fortune more than I do. Am I thankful for it? You bet I am; my luck has arrived just when I’ve needed it the most.
I have survived more life threatening situations than I have any right to expect. Absent my luck, my final birthday could well have been in the single digits.
Mine has been no ordinary luck. I have emerged still breathing by means of some extraordinary coincidences not of my making, i.e., plain dumb luck. I’m no daredevil. I’m not a thrill seeker or even a moderate risk taker. I’ve just had my mortality lit up in neon on several occasions as I’ve gone through my day-to-day living.
My good fortune operates like a scene from a well-choreographed Buster Keaton silent movie. Just as he’s about to be clobbered by a big lug, Buster slips on a banana peel. The lug throws a massive roundhouse punch at Buster’s head at exactly the right moment to barely but completely miss its falling target. The swing’s momentum carries his adversary past Keaton, over a guardrail, and down a hill. Buster then picks himself up, carefully dusts off his clothes, looks around, and peers over the guardrail. When he finally realizes what happened, he gazes bewildered at the aftermath of the skirmish and scratches his head.
That’s me. Dumbstruck by dumb luck.
There is nothing admirable about dumb luck. When I stumbled in and out of life-threatening situations, I didn’t make my luck, I just benefited from it.
People have a penchant for personifying difficult concepts, either to help grasp their significance or to trivialize them. A prime example is when Death is personified as the Grim Reaper or the Angel of Death who will personally visit each of us when it’s time and escort us one-by-one away from life.
The Reaper comes on schedule as if he has a daily To Do List of souls to remove from the living. The Grim Reaper usually carries an ancient scythe – presumably to cut down and harvest us when it’s our time to expire. A nice image, don’t you agree?
With this allegory in mind, on four separate occasions in my adult life and once as child, I slipped on Buster Keaton’s banana peels at just the right time. In each instance, the Grim Reaper was nearby. In some, he was already in the middle of a well-practiced swing when I luckily stumbled under it. Sometimes I didn’t realize he had been in my vicinity until after the event. Other times he has been front and center, raising his sharp old blade and leering right before my eyes.
Like Buster Keaton, after the dust settled in each instance in my adulthood I have been bewildered and bemused as I faced what might well have happened. Each time while processing the extent of my jeopardy from the past tense, I’ve done a lot of thinking about life and death. Until I actually do depart this life I will do a lot more.
This book/blog series recounts my Life & Death incidents and other luck, the observations about my self that they have kindled, and what I have so far come to believe is important in living and dying. My thoughts on these matters are heavily influenced by all of my experiences, those involving my mortality and others that do not. My conclusions are solely mine and I respect that you may differ with them. As an old friend once advised me, “take what you want and leave the rest.”
We are born in different places, with different genes, at different times, and have our own unique set of experiences that shape our perspectives. Mine include a growing familiarity with the Grim Reaper. We’re not quite good friends, but he scares me a lot less than he did before. He knows me as an ordinary guy who’s had some extraordinary luck, but he’s patient.
He’s got all the time in the world.
©2016 James Ash
Note: The is the introduction chapter of a book I have written entitled Just My Luck. I will present the chapters (or portions thereof) of this book as a series in this blog.
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