75 – Roll the Bones

Lot of people from my generation – Millennials, there-I-said-it – tend to say that they don’t have good luck. That, and… how do I put this… trauma attracts trauma? Not always in a negative sense, just, you surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through, and the ones who stick around will be the ones who can hang when your life gets deeply fucked. Some people interpret this pattern – Party Acquired! Oh wait, rocks fall, all die – as bad luck.

I don’t, really. I think that the rocks falling, the goblin invasions, the bad credit, the abortions, the birthing and dying and all the other adventures… they’re adventures, which means most of them are going to be primarily a sequence of bad shit happening to people who don’t deserve it. Maybe you, maybe someone you love, definitely at least once in your life. That’s not luck. A lot of times it’s the way the game is designed.

Luck comes into it when you roll initiative, when you decide whether you’re okay with that sequence of bad shit, and if you’re not, how deep you’re ready to roll on putting a stop to it. Sometimes you win. If you don’t play a lot, you’ll get the feeling that you win about 50%. About a crapshoot. The effect of luck takes longer than the occasional flutter to perceive.

Luck is about repetition. Luck is about trying, and trying, and trying until one day, something’s different. For no good reason, just because it was time, because you showed up and tried every time and this time was the one time. Yeah, you see the people on TV who won the lottery because they got a Powerball ticket in a birthday card, never gambled before, but the reason those stories blow up is because they’re astonishing. Most of the time, the guy who hits the jackpot is the guy who’s spent $6,000 at the slot machine this winter. That’s how odds work. The more you play, the more opportunity you have to make them better.

Everywhere I go, I try doors. Just turn handles in walls, all of ’em, any of ’em. It’s a policy. See a door, think of it, give it a try. You’d be shocked how many things are unlocked that probably shouldn’t be. People see me open the steel door behind which a treasure trove of brooms and cleaning products hides, and they call me lucky. They didn’t see all the other locked doors I’ve tried since I was tall enough to reach the handles.

Getting better, healing from trauma, is in my experience very much like that. You have to do something that they tell you will work for a long time, watching it not fucking work, before it even kinda works. I know I’m saying “a long time,” and you’re hearing me, but I heard that too, and I was underestimating how long. It’s longer than you think. There will be a moment when you go, “This was supposed to help me, this was supposed to feel good, I was supposed to be getting better, I’ve wasted all this effort, I know it’s supposed to take a long time but surely I’m doing it wrong if it’s not helping by now.” The point when it starts actually helping, in my experience, is two weeks to a month after that.

You have to stick with it. You have to be willing to roll deep. You have to be ready to fail again and again and again and call the one time in a hundred that you succeed “good luck.” Because that’s how you keep getting luck: by rolling the dice.

“Restless,” July 2012.

Always said that I’m a lucky person.
What you’ve got to understand about luck
is that you need to stop passing the buck –
luck’s not a judgment, it’s an assertion.

They say that luck is when preparation
meets opportunity. What they don’t say
is that preparation gets in the way
and good luck comes from repetition.

Everything takes just a little too long
before it starts to function like it should.
You have to punch a lot of planks of wood;
it stops hurting only after you get strong.
But it never hurts quite like the fear could,
and each scar speaks more clearly:
we belong.

Check out the rest of the 100 Sonnets

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