May 15, 2023·edited May 16, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Last year, after Keith took me out to lunch for Mother’s Day, we stopped to pick up groceries. While piling our purchases into the back of our car, we saw a female mallard with a dozen ducklings, crossing the parking lot. The mama duck seemed purposeful and distracted, her chicks wandering and scurrying after her. I prayed she was a lucky duck, as I was the evening my grade-school-age son went missing. The sun was setting when I stepped into our backyard and called into the woods behind our house, “David, time to come home.” No answer. “Da….vid!” No answer. I walked across the street and knocked on the neighbor's door. “Have you seen David?” “Last we saw he was down in the woods,” the brothers said. I ran along the edge of the woods and raced up and down our street calling, “Da…vid, Da…vid.” No answer. I grabbed the phone and called every friend of his I could imagine. No David. I paced the kitchen floor and looked out the front and back windows while praying 'beggy' prayers. "Please, God, please. I’ll do anything if you bring him home safe." Visions of headlines: "Boy Found Dead, Mother was Distracted." I was ready to call the police when I heard the door to the garage open. David strolled into the kitchen. “Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?” “Where in the world were you? It’s been dark for over an hour.” “I was playing at Sarah’s house.” “Sarah? You never play with Sarah. I’ve been calling you. Didn’t you hear me? I almost called the police.” “Oh, Mom. There wasn’t anything to worry about. I knew where I was.” His luck looks don't kill. David turns forty this year. Yesterday, he texted me, "Happy Mother's Day." For all his wandering, I know I am a lucky duck.

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My wallet went missing while I shopped at the Farmer’s Market.

I searched, backtracking. It was gone.

I searched trash bins.

It wasn’t there.

I widened my search beyond the market,

getting back on my bicycle, looking in the trash all through downtown.

I called the Market. I called the police. No one had it.

I rode home, called the bank, the credit card companies.

I rode my bike downtown again. I searched where I’d searched earlier.

It wasn’t there. Nobody had seen it.

I searched the trash bins. It wasn’t there.

I rode home again.

It was gone.

The sadness of acceptance, the bitterness of loss flooded me.

I thought the universe can do whatever it wants.

It can bring my wallet back to me, if it wants.

It’s up to the cosmos to do whatever.

I let go, and gave it up.

Days later, there was a knock on my door.

I opened it, it was my ex. He had something.

“Here,” he said. He handed me my wallet. My mouth fell open.

He said, “Someone put it in your mailbox.

Everything seems to be there except the cash.”

Yes, that was true.

It was all there.

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We often comment to each other how lucky we are. We are a bunch of people, married, widowed, single, gay and straight, in our mid sixties through seventies, who play pickleball outside almost every day for about an hour and a half. We have played together for almost a full year now, starting in the heat wave last summer, then when Fall leaves came down on us and the air couldn't have been more perfect, then while the snow flew around us, showing up in the mornings to shovel and the evenings to play, shedding layers of jackets strewn around the courts, and now with spring and allergies and sudden swift showers sending us to our cars and back. We run around the courts, congratulate each other on getting tough shots, laugh when the ball does something unpredictable like fly over the fence, or balance on the net and change its mind, and exchange pieces of clementines and of news of our lives good and bad on the sidelines. And this is when we often turn to each other as we chat and watch the other players, and say "we are so lucky" knowing we mean lucky to be able to be so active, to have so much fun, to have all found each other, such a like minded gang of friends, and to have this shared oasis even as all sorts of troubles swirl around in the bigger world.

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May 16, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Our accident was serious. A main road blocked for most of the day. When our compact car stopped spinning, our bodies filled what little space remained. Joshua and I were accompanying mother to her dental appointment to ease her nerves. While waiting to turn into their parking lot, a white van flew up from behind and BANG! The impact pushed us in front of an oncoming dump truck. After the slow motion revolution, everyone was silent. Motionless. Mom's eyes were open and balancing tiny cubes of automotive glass. Her seat had broken and launched her halfway out the back window. Thankfully, Joshua, who had been lying down behind her, had been rearranged, landing head first on the floor behind me, legs and body extended up the back seat. A narrow escape. As a previous instructor for the National Safety Council, I knew to talk to them calmly and check for breathing and bleeding. There is a lot to tell about that day, but for our purposes here, it's the pivotal event that forever changed my outlook on luck. The catastrophic incident left my mother with restricted breathing and severely painful nerve damage. My son has since suffered almost unsurmountable anxiety, depression, and difficulties learning (higher math) in line with brain trauma. It was all caused by a stranger's carelessness in a moment of bad luck, yet in all the many times I have told the story, I express only how fortunate we were to have survived as we did, and always consider myself incredibly lucky.

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May 16, 2023·edited May 17, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

When things go wrong, I don’t think it’s bad luck. If I miss a bus, for example, I’ll think about how the bus could have crashed. Or I might have stepped off the bus and been jabbed in the eye by the end of a passing ladder. You never know.

Once, I arrived in Leeds with my phone dead and my bank card useless because I’d spent the last of my money on the train ticket after missing my coach (I stupidly sat there for twenty minutes and watched it leave, not realising it was my coach). Instead of buying another coach ticket, I ran across Manchester and got the much more expensive train. I can’t think why I would do that.

The horror of my situation hit me as I stepped on to the platform at Leeds. I had no idea where my cousin lived. Then, I happened to look across the station and saw another cousin. I yelled her name and she saw me across three platforms. I was saved.

It was lucky I’d missed that coach, as I wouldn’t have been able to call anyone upon arriving in Leeds or even buy a coach ticket back to Manchester!

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May 16, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

“I read this article I think you’d like,” said Starr. “It’s about luck. It says that lucky people all have one thing in common: they believe they’re lucky.”

I’d just finished reading a wildly popular self-help book, and while I thought the advice was sound, it felt like a lot of work. The one action I could manage, in the midst of an anxiety/depression spinout, was the gratitude piece.

Didn’t I have enough to eat? A warm, safe place to sleep? A job? I appreciated the hell out of every speck of good fortune, day after day after day. Caught in an existential gloom cycle, I wondered how I’d ended up with so many advantages.

Luck, of course. To be born to lovely parents. To have been showered with love and given opportunity. To be able to make friends easily. To choose my fate, however disappointing it sometimes felt.

I believe I am lucky, therefore I am. Whether I’m broke, sad, worried, or injured; fortune favors me wherever I go.

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May 16, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said luck was preparedness meeting opportunity. Anyway, my father quoted this to me throughout my teenage years. And I have come to see the value in it.

When you think back to all the jobs you turned down because they weren’t the right ones or courses you chose to skip because at the time you didn’t see what relevance it would have in the future, you were not collecting those many experiences and that information that you would need to draw upon in the future. As you did not know what the future would need from you.

And I believe it to be true. I took every job I could find when I needed it. The list ranges from receptionist in my dad’s beauty salon to a neon sign company before I began my teaching career. I was an artist learning an array of new skills, (not as interesting as artmaking) in a variety of settings and circumstances. I took something of value to me from each one, building a repertoire I could call upon as needed.

Very often throughout my career in the arts people have said how lucky I was to get this job or that and I would answer my “luck” was my preparedness for the opportunity presented to me.

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May 16, 2023·edited May 16, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

The King of Pop’s bad luck overdose was good luck for me and Tim. When Michael Jackson died in 2009, the L.A. Times ran a contest where 8,000 lucky fans could win 2 tickets to his public funeral at the Staples Center. I was indifferent but I found this raffle unique and strange, befitting such a personality, so I entered. Out of hundreds of thousands of emails, mine was a winner. The catch was the tickets had to be retrieved in person and I was drinking in the Albaicín district of Granada. Far from the box office. No possible way could I get there, yet I knew these golden tickets were hot.

I forwarded the winning confirmation code to my savvy friend, Tim Buckley, knowing TB would handle any potential identity questions posing as me. A minor detail to overcome. He collected, no problem. Sold one for $1,800 ($900 split) but was forced to the spectacle with the other because the ticket booth braceleted his wrist upon pick-up. Tim’s review of the night’s closing performance proclaimed, “It made an old punk from Lowell misty.” I got a chuckle out of that. Such is the power of a true pop star, invoking raw emotion in death as in life.

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The DeutscheBahn website tells me the cheapest Hannover-Munich itinerary takes eleven hours and seven train changes. One hour into the trip, bored by my own thoughts, I overhear my language: the guys sitting behind me. “Hi, I was eavesdropping,” I introduce myself in Portuguese. Yes, they’re Brazilian, too. Going to Munich, too. That cheap itinerary, too. Artists. And later, eased by the closeness a long ride creates: Street artists. At the Munich train station, our goodbye sounds definitive. But the next day I’m lucky enough to see tiny humans painting a huge mural. “Oi!” I wave from below. I’m lucky to get a private tour of their exhibition. Lucky to bump into them on my return flight, to meet again in São Paulo, to talk art, movies, chrome film cross-processing.

Slowly, street art in Brazil goes from crime-adjacent to hype. A hype led by OsGêmeos, my train-friends. Slowly, their faces disappear from my life to reappear in the news, interviews, celebrity parties. Twenty years later, I’m lucky to run into one of them again. As I approach, smiling, his raised palm stops me: “Sorry, can’t right now.”

I guess luck can cross the Atlantic, but it won’t cross social divides.

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May 18, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I always thought I was special. Plus I like myself, the things I do, the way I am with others in the world, all those types of things. A friend recently told me how great she thought I was and how disappointed she was in me that what she thought I’d be doing is not what I’m doing. I said, basically, I’m happy, I’m proud of what I accomplished so far, and I’m trying to do more. The trying and working at it counts as success to me. She said, “You must have self-esteem for some reason.”

Surprisingly that didn’t shake me (further). Because I often get my own self down with how my life is right now. But I know it’ll have to get better, one way or another. One way is grinding at the business I started a few months ago. Another is buying lottery tickets. Someone has to match those numbers, and might as well be me, I say to myself, as I imagine being a winner.

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May 20, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Odd as it may sound, I consider myself lucky to have been born healthy and in the USA. As a child of the Vietnam War, also called the American War in Vietnam, I could have had a very different fate. With a Vietnamese mother and an American father of mainly German-Irish descent, I would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Or a festering wound. A constant reminder to my mother of the man who left her, but also to everyone else – a reminder of the superpower that ultimately abandoned them, that devastated their homeland, the enemy. Most of the mixed-race children in Vietnam fathered by US military personnel faced extreme prejudice, also limiting their access to education and work. Some of those “children of the dust” could immigrate to the US through the Amerasian Homecoming Act. But that was over a decade after the US left the country, poorly funded, and many had difficulties integrating into American society. On top of that, exposure to Agent Orange, the defoliant sprayed over vast swaths of jungle by the US Air Force to force communist fighters out of hiding, led to many children with extreme birth defects. So yes, I feel lucky.

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I had been so excited thinking about that upcoming party. Actually, for weeks before we ALL had been stoked thinking about it. But on Friday, June 9th, 1979 three of us never made it.

My first true love, Joel, along with one of our best friends, Steve, and myself had been hanging at Joel's apartment, pregaming and eating some Chinese food. We talked about senior high school pranks, as Steve was about to graduate. Somehow, our conversation turned dark, discussing how we'd like to die. I said I wanted to die as an old woman, peacefully in my sleep. Steve said he wanted to go fast and not know what hit him. Joel, being the typical firecracker he was, said he wanted to live through every minute of it. That you "just do it once".

As we walked out to Steve's International Harvester Scout I was stopped in my tracks 30 feet away. A rush of dread like I've never experienced washed over me. Joel, walking ahead, asked me what was wrong and to hurry up. Once in the truck, I sat on Joel's lap in the front seat. On the drive to the party I began dozing off to sleep. Joel kept waking me up, then asked if I wanted to go home. I said yes, that I guess I was too tired. The boys dropped me off at home, where I went up to bed.

15 minutes later the back axle on the truck snapped and sent the truck careening across two lanes of oncoming traffic and smashing into a utility pole. Steve died on impact. The truck flipped upside down and slid down the center of the road, coming to a complete stop. The roof was smashed down and the truck caught fire. Meanwhile Joel screamed for his life, but no one there could do anything. Both died exactly the way they had said.

I on the other hand, was asleep...on a friday night at the age of 15...missing a party I so wanted to go to.

Some called this Divine Intervention. Some said that it wasn't my time. And some say I was just LUCKY. Me, I'm still not sure what it was.

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May 29, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I love heat and to run in heat. But that was not always the case and has its reason.

A few years ago, I found it very difficult to run when the temperatures were higher. I used to plan my runs at times and places where it wouldn't get too hot. Actually. Every time I entered a race or planned an important training session, it was exceptionally hot. And so, my body adapted at some point.

Now, I don't like it at all when it's cold and raining. I plan my runs at times and places where it doesn't get too cold and doesn't rain so hard. Actually. For almost two years now, every time I have a race or a special training session, exceptionally heavy rains or low temperatures occur, for example -13 degrees during a 24h run.

My friends already make fun of me and say that I'm not lucky at all. Is it no luck? Or am I lucky to learn to cope with all difficult situations and to grow from them and become stronger?

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