lucky vs. unlucky

In deep thoughts, inspiration, stories by Jay Clouse

The weather in Detroit has been pretty poor since arriving on Saturday. The drive in was incredibly rainy and we’ve had a “wintery mix” for the couple of days.

Within a matter of hours of arriving in Detroit, we were leaving dinner when I missed my exit for the highway.

“Well that’s frustrating…” I said to my passenger as I began to circle around. Then there was a loud THUMP under the right side of my car.

I immediately pulled over into a parking spot to inspect the damage, seeing that both my passenger tires were completely flat.

Turns out that the lane I was driving in wasn’t actually a lane. It was an area of empty parking spots next to the sidewalk, and a curb capped the end of those spots. I hit that curb pretty solidly with both of my passenger tires, completely bursting them both.

Of course, I was upset. Not emotional, but maybe a little angry. I called AAA to get my options and realized that my best course of action was to leave the car until businesses opened on Monday and have AAA tow the car to a tire shop.

Fast forward to the next morning, and we find out our other vehicle, which was parked outside the Airbnb overnight, had its catalytic converter stolen in the night.

It made me think of this Chinese proverb:

A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

It’s super easy to get angry when something unexpected happens that we don’t like. But “luck” is a matter of perspective and framing.

I’ve always considered myself a lucky guy, and I think it’s because of this framing.

I was lucky to be near a parking space so I didn’t damage my rims. I was lucky that no other part of my car was damaged. I was lucky in that my tires were old and near replacement anyway.

Wouldn’t you rather choose to be lucky?


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