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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lucky Charms

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“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” Benjamin Franklin

A bald head and a head of hair are the only two things I envisioned lying underneath a hat. To my surprise, the police officer who rode the train with me last week proved that a hat can be a receptacle for more than a scalp and a head of hair. For when the police officer took off his hat, tapped inside, I saw a  small card with the image of a Catholic Saint, which Saint, I don’t know. I can imagine that the Saint is one that adherents of the faith believe will protect one from harms way, or perhaps a patron Saint specifically handpicked for police officers. Whatever the origin of the Saint, its resting place underneath the police officers hat, for me, cut through the tough exterior of his bullet-proof vest and 9 millimeter gun, exposing an individual who, to some extent, leans on the perceived power behind the image of the Saint, or has individuals in his life that believe in its power for him. The element of religion aside, the Saint card under the police officers hat is not unlike the rabbit’s foot on a key chain or the lucky coin in someones purse or wallet. For centuries, people have clung to the belief in the power of objects to bring them “good luck.” Whether it be protection against evil, guidance in choosing lottery numbers, or positive energy crafted to attract Mr, or Ms. Right, good luck charms abound as does the belief in luck.

What is luck? Is it an energy, is it fate? Is luck something that can be drawn to oneself through an object or an image? Whatever ones stance on luck, it’s hard to conclude anything other than luck as driving the good fortune of those who win mega-million jackpot’s. These type of individuals in particular seem to fly in the face of the often touted definition of luck being a function of preparation meeting opportunity.  To my knowledge, little to no expertise is required to choose lottery numbers. Sure, there are rituals and methods some people employ in deciding which numbers to color in on lottery forms, but these are as random as the numbers that pop up in the lottery machine.

While I do not believe that a charm or an image can ward off evil or lead to good fortune, increasingly, I have come to believe that one’s approach to life, their energy (vibe) has much to do with respect to the circumstances that flow in and throughout of their lives. Now, this is not to say that I believe that  some energy force provided the optimal backdrop for an individual to win the mega- millions, I think some element of “fate” was behind that one in a billion occurrence. Rather, I am referring to the attitude with which one chooses to approach their day-to-day life experiences. In my estimation, one of the chief determinants to attracting good fortune is the ability to view challenges as opportunities to grow, instead of harmful and limiting obstacles to success. This attitude welcomes the chance to go in one more time in lieu of walking away. Moreover, the drive to approach life in this positive and informative way provides the foundation for which one may rest when things don’t go as originally planned. Of course, possessing a positive and tenacious spirit is only a part of the formula, albeit a critical part of the formula. One should possess the skill and creativity necessary to competently and realistically forge ahead with their endeavors, unlike the stream of American Idol cast offs that insist on trying to fit a circle in a squared hole. Granted, some with no discernible skills or any iota of creativity have achieved what many may deem to be success, however, I believe this is the exception, not the rule.

At the end of the day, a mild reliance and belief in a good luck charm or ritual is quirky and by and large harmless. It is when ones belief in good luck or ritual overrides their responsibility to be clear with themselves and those around them that their lives typically fall out-of-order. Life being life, anything can happen, but no matter what transpires we ultimately have control over how we choose to  process what is happening to us and around us. Will we seek to find the lesson and opportunity in what is happening, or will we run out to find another charm or ritual to increase our luck? The choice to be positive or negative, to keep pressing or give up, to attract greater challenges and opportunities is not a function of what charm we possess or what ritual we uphold, it is something that we cultivate inside of ourselves. It is my desire to keep cultivating a spirit that is not easily defeated and welcomes failure as an opportunity to grow, accomplishing this would make me lucky indeed.


A Drop in the Bucket

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Do you have a bucket list? For those who may not know, a “bucket list” is composed of the things/events you personally want to experience before kicking the bucket (A.K.A. dying). On Sunday, I fulfilled one of the items on my list, learning how to ride a bike. Growing up, I never had the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike.  While everyone around me, including my brothers, seemed to pick up the art of bike riding, I stayed on the sidelines, rationalizing that it was too late, and too embarrassing, to learn how to ride a bike. Eventually, my desire to hop on a bike and fly were tempered by these concerns. For far too long of a time, I was content with keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground.

With my ever increasing objective to make fitness an integral part of my life, I longed to be able to do something outside of the gym, something that would allow me to enjoy bright, breezy days. And thus the call of the bike came back with a vengeance. A quick Google search led me to Bike ride NYC, which to my complete joy offered a free “Learn how to ride a bike” for adults class. After a  few minutes of my ego trying to bully me into believing that learning to ride a bike at my age is akin to having the word loser tattooed on my forehead, I clicked on register and did not look back.

The sensation of, first, learning how to balance, then eventually, pedaling without hurting myself or others (couple of close calls but nothing serious) was fantastic! Riding a bike felt better than I had ever imagined!  Each pedal stroke felt as if I were delving further into a different plane of existence where it was just me, the pedals, and the breeze, feeling as free as I have ever felt in my life. In the midst of this liberation and joy, I thought of my mother, of the prison of fear she had locked herself in for so many years before and after my birth. Had she ever had the chance to feel as free as I did today? If so, when and what in her let that go? Ironically, it took  my feet being above the ground to be able to walk in mothers shoes. Perhaps for the first time, deep in my soul, I felt sorry for the woman whose life was defined by so many limiting, destructive, and negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Afraid to strike out, like so many people (myself included), my mother preferred to stay comfortably numb and holed up in a world that did not honor who she was created to be in this world.

It was out fear and of not knowing any better that mother acted and reacted to me the way that she did so many times. Little doubt exists that the negative and hurtful thoughts and actions that were hurled onto my mother in her childhood formed the foundation of our relationship. Left unchecked and untreated, negativity, hurt, and fear get the opportunity to grow and get be passed down from generation to generation. Not willing to carry on the residue of negativity and fear that consumed mother (and to a lesser extent, my father), I am working like nobody’s business to start from point A, drowning out the lies that have plagued me, hopefully picking up more nuggets of compassion and forgiveness along the way.

Perhaps it is foolish, but I’d like to think that each time I ride a bike, my mother will not be too far behind. I’d like to believe that for a brief moment in time, somehow, my mother is allowed to feel the joy of  riding a bike.