a lucky sonofabitch

3:12:00 PM

PBS and PUBLIC TV ...

My best friend, says that luck is nothing other than "preparedness meets opportunity." That is, in a rather demystifying way, luck is nothing more than the accumulation of years of hard work and skill-honing lining up with an auspicious event that is, presumably, the result of the hard work. I'd like to think that nothing is left up to chance, and that everything in one's domain is up to one's own Will, and certainly that's true to a degree, but one cannot escape the fact that the opportunity knocks at some people's doors more often than others.

One of my co-workers recounted the episode of public TV programming he had watched the night before. The show was showcasing the life and works of a woman from war-torn Somalia, I believe.

Her tale began when a band of murders stormed her village, and disrupted her otherwise "normal" upbringing. The marauders murdered her entire family before her eyes, and then kept her stabbed and wounded as their rape-slave. After violating her for what must have seemed an eternity for her, the band of marauders finally decided to abandon both the village they had decimated and her. Before they left, the cut the tendons in her ankle and left her for dead. She was pregnant, close to term, and almost dead.

By sheer force of will, alone and abandoned to the mercy of an ambivalent mother nature, she lay there unable to find rescue, and her baby came. She delivered the child on her own, and if she had found that she might have been spared the horror of loosing the last of her kin ... Her child, her love, her one and only, as she lay convalescing from her wounds and nursing her newborn and her home, a pack of wild dogs encircled her, snatched her baby and tore it limb from limb as a snack.

Luck was not on her side.

Perhaps in her last moment of despair before giving up on all such things as providence and what-not, she was rescued. She was brought back to health, and the good people of the Earth restored her health, and presumably her mind and spirit endured to an extent so that she was able to make something of that evil, anamilistic experience so that she was lauded on network public television ... Only that the band of marauders had left her with an enduring trace of their death - she had contracted HIV from them. Even while she was "well" the angel of death hovered over her, and her vitiated existence was a testament to what? The resilience of the human spirit? The ability for a person to persevere and survive despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? A monument to the fact that some folks are born to live the night, ugly aspects of both humanity, nature and fortune? What possible lesson or moral platitude can anyone learn from that degree of that misfortune, torment and abnegation from all of known creation other than, damn it, some people just have bad luck?

To her credit she had chosen despite it all to make known her tribulations in a constructive way. She declared her existence publicly, and in doing so through into the general pool of knowledge the knowing that anyone could be decimated so thoroughly. The Lord also allots for unending misery in his plan.

But though the story has continued to be a source of perplexation and unending questions towards the fabric of the universe and its "plan," perhaps one thing that comes to the surface is the question of Luck, choice, and divine providence.

That is, for one, luck is not some intangible quality - it exists and it exists for some more than for others. And it cannot be reduced to some existential platitude that "preparedness meets opportunity," and that luck is nothing more than our own doing. No one, no matter how evil they are or have been in some previous, karmic, existence deserves the torment that that woman endured. To say that it was in her domain and that the course of events, somehow, fell down into her own responsibility, would amount to saying that she should have recognized her own misfortune at being born into a country that had barbarians roaming through it. She should have known to flee to more civilized parts of the globe, and it was her fault that she didn't take that initiative. And after being rapped and lacerated beyond belief, she should have stanched the blood so as not to alert the Hyenas of her tastiness and that of her newborn babe.

No, her story goes beyond the ken of such fluffy metaphysics of right and wrong, of justness and virtue. Her story is plain old bad luck, and it's impossible to discern the glory of God and his creation in it.

Perhaps, if there's any sort of grand plan in all of this, it's to assert that in our humble existence there is no real choice. That is, providence has already pre-determined the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that would and will befall us in our paltry existence. That is, there is no such thing as good or bad luck since the opportunities and onus that were meant for us are nothing other than destiny. And if we are to be redeemed, then the only thing within our ken is our choice on how to interpret and conform to the life set before us. The woman on public television, god rest her soul, continues to take up arms even after losing her village and family, even after losing her baby, even after losing her body and her life, and she continues, despite the grand injustice, to chose to share her experience to the benefit of those who would want to find ways to ameliorate her troubled existence.

She chose communion while others, like the marauders, would choose alienation and animalism. At any rate, if there is any luck in this world is that we would be prepared before we were ever born to meet the opportunity to choose towards the enlightened and the divine. That is, after all, perhaps the only and most important choice we can make at any moment. And, if it consoles us any, life's a bitch, and it ate my kid, and I can still find a way to make it beautiful, after all.

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