Wednesday, July 28, 2004

“Do you still believe in luck?”

Today, after sending a congratulatory e-mail about the book to me, the ex-boyfriend I went to Vegas with sent me another. It said, simply, “P.S. Do you still believe in luck?”

He and I are still friends, and I remembered the debate we had over my baffling belief in luck, despite the fact that I’m an atheist. I was impressed with the fact he remembered, so I’m going to answer.


Luck, noun
1. The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortune: They met one day out of pure luck.
2. Good fortune or prosperity; success: We wish you luck.
3. One's personal fate or lot: It was just my luck to win a trip I couldn't take.

I know that much of luck is perception. I know that it’s unlikely that you’d flip a coin and have it come up heads 6 times in a row. That would seem lucky, if I had bet it. But if you flipped a coin a million times the chances are far slimmer that in those million tosses, there would never be 6 heads in a row. And that luck breeds luck often because when one good thing happens, you’re more confident, happier, people like you more, more good things happen and it builds on itself.

But I also feel like I have been extremely lucky in my life at certain moments. Like if I bet on that coin to land its 7th heads in a row, I have a better chance now than I ordinarily would. It makes no sense.

It happens too in poker – going back to being on a rush, what makes you feel lucky is not just getting hand after hand of good cards, but that you stay in for the one after the cards stopping coming all Aces and paint, on some unsuited rags like 7-9, that you play just because you had a good day July 9th, and what the hell, you're on a rush! And the flop comes down 9-9-7. It’s flabbergasting. It’s when you start thanking the Poker gods, just in case.

I’ve read theories that there might be an evolutionary reason that people are prone to faith. That an ability to imagine a higher power to make sense of what they did not helped those humans survive. A genetic code that builds our brains with a “god” part.

I believe this world is pretty much it. But I also like to believe that things happed for a reason and maybe my belief in luck comes from that part of the brain.

All I know is sometimes you can’t explain everything. So yes, right now I feel lucky. We’ll see how I do at the game on Thursday. In the end, does it matter if I win because I’m truly lucky or because I believe I am?


Blogger Salivating Circuits said...

I'm reading Dan Savage's "Skipping towards Gomorrah" today, and the chapter on gambling, although he's dealing with BlackJack, has some really interesting insights on Luck.


1:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

(c) Toby Leah Bochan