Let's talk about 'luck'

Let’s talk about ‘luck.’ If someone tells you ‘you’re lucky’ it’s a compliment, right? Well… not always. Luck is finding a £20 note on the sidewalk, or tripling your money in a slot machine the one time you pulled that lever. If you look up luck in the Cambridge Dictionary, you get: ‘Having good things happen to you by chance.’ Having lived through extreme poverty, homelessness, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect and parental abandonment (and that’s just before I turned fourteen), I've never really resonated with the word ‘lucky.’ On paper, I am decidedly ‘unlucky,’ based on definition alone. So for someone like me, that word (misappropriated) can jar.

Not that I get remotely upset with a well-meaning individual attempting to pay me a compliment. But when someone wields the word 'lucky' after glancing at a few hiking photos on a single social media post, I can't help but think about the years I spent learning to navigate, or the 33,498 steps over rough terrain I took to get to where that photo was taken. Or the slips and falls along the way. Or the times I got something wrong, but learned a valuable lesson I could apply to the next trek. Or when I had to turn back because weather or conditions were too dangerous to carry on. Nor will they see the hours of physical training that happen around work and parenting duties that power me up those hills. I get told I am ‘so lucky’ after someone watches a 15 second video clip of me by the fire next to the campervan I live in. But they don’t witness the daily episodes of misdirected anger I deal with from self-appointed anti-van vigilantes who don’t want me parked near them, or the minutes whiling away as I refill the water tank for the umpteenth time. They weren’t there for the days upon days of I spent unravelling my every earthly possession into the bin it, donate it, sell it or store it category. Or the countless hours I spent remodelling the tiny space into something liveable for myself, my kid and my dog. Nobody but my little girl and dog sees the hours of YouTube videos I watch on RV repairs every time something breaks and I can’t afford to get a professional to fix it. Nor are they party to the fact that after Covid lockdowns and rising energy prices financially depleted us, it was the only logical option I had left. People don’t see the years of graft that goes into unravelling our traumas. They don’t know about every time we’ve fixed something ourselves because there were no funds or people to help sort it. More economically and socially privileged individuals sometimes seem to be oblivious to the volume of self-taught skills those of us who've struggled all our lives had to acquire, because we needed them to survive.

So sure, many of us can climb mountains solo, and live contently in a van, and bathe in icy lochs with no trouble, and fix a broken down car, and forage, and know which wild plants will ease cold & flu symptoms, and set our own broken bones if needs be. But what is often deemed ‘luck,' is really just a glimpse of what comes off the back of sailing through pretty choppy waters. Besides, even if you do happen to find that £20 note on the pavement or win at the slot machine, you still gotta take that walk or pull that lever first. Oh, and fighters of the world …I salute you.