What is luck, really?

Here’s a provisional definition: luck is an unplanned positive experience, in which something good happens to us, seemingly by chance or at least without effort on our part. 

Here’s the thing: I believe that the magic gleam of La Fortuna beckons to us every single day. New opportunities are constantly opening up before us. 

The deeper question is: Do we allow ourselves to see these opportunities? Do we have the courage to seize the moment and commit to exploring a new path?

The trail-blazing psychologist James Hillman believed, with Socrates, that each of us is born with a daimon, a kind of guardian spirit that gives us inner guidance as we make our way in life. 

I have heard my daimon whispering encouragement to me at certain key moments in my life, when Lady Luck opened a door and I hesitated on the threshold, not sure whether I had the courage to step through. 

At other moments, that same inner voice has cautioned me, telling me to hold back, take another, safer path. 

Maybe what we call Luck is really a deep form of listening: being open and aware of the possibilities swirling around us at all times, and sensitive to the inner guidance that knows which way will lead in a positive direction. 

When I think back on my life, I can see that many seemingly lucky events (for instance, the chance meeting in Paris with the man I ended up marrying) did not necessarily lead to “happily ever after” scenarios. 

No, my husband and I did not live happily ever after. Nevertheless, I am glad I had the courage to step through the door opened by Lady Luck that day in Paris, when I first spoke to the stranger who would become so important in my life. I honor the luck that brought us together, because I learned a lot from that relationship, and it brought me many gifts. 

It’s finally the question of courage that interests me most in the context of purposeful memoir. And of course, the flip side of courage: fear. 

It’s normal to fear the unknown, the unfamiliar. It’s normal to feel daunted, to wonder whether we have what it takes to step up to a new challenge. 

And yet if we never dare to stretch ourselves, to seize the brass ring of opportunity, then we deprive ourselves of full advantage of the most amazing luck of all—that we are alive, here and now, with our daimon at our side and the soaring human creative power to make the most of each hour of every day. 

This month’s free writing catalysts, below, invite you to explore some of those amazing moments when Luck has shown up in your life. And in my March 14 writing workshop, “Seeking Courage,” we’ll go deeper in exploring the moments when you have shown up with courage and “dared greatly” to live your fullest life. 

May La Fortuna smile upon you today, friends! May you have the wisdom to know when to follow her, and the courage to seize the day! 

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