Here's to luck
Here’s to luck.
This masterpiece was created with great luck.
Is that something anyone ever hears? Usually it’s created with great love, great perseverance, great skill, or perhaps all three, but hardly ever luck. That’s not to say those things don’t play a role, but the idea that random factors play a role is rarely ever acknowledged. Why is that?
I suspect it’s an ego thing, so trapped as we are in our own perspectives. I suspect it’s also a way to justify all the hard work we put in to accomplish our goals. Also, we all love stories in which the hero overcomes great odds, the fates or just plain hard luck to win whatever it is they’re chasing. I know I do.
All the hard charging types say “You create your own luck.” In my experience, that’s not entirely true. As this year unfolds, especially with the ongoing examination of how race has shaped our lives and our country, I find myself thinking a lot about how random circumstances have shaped my life. The very first, of course, is the very circumstances of my birth. I hit the lottery, so to speak, at the moment I came into the world. I was born a white male in an upper middle class family in the US of A during the early sixties. My father was a NASA flight controller, helping put a man on the moon and more. My mother devoted herself to raising me and my sister. In this day and age, in this culture, if that’s not a definition of a unique privilege, I’m not sure what is. I was also born with a medical condition that required surgery when I was only a few days old. But because I was born in Houston with one of the premier medical centers of the country, I survived due to a combination of luck and the surgeon’s skill.
I used to wonder if I could have done more with my head start. Could I have worked harder to learn to play an instrument or a sport extremely well? Perhaps. But no matter how much I practiced basketball, the sport isn’t in need of a 6 foot power forward. Could I have worked harder to learn about engineering, medicine, maybe law? Perhaps, but I really liked playing with math. Could I have worked harder to finish that novel? Maybe. Persevere through whatever lack of focus was holding me back? Possibly. Am I holding myself back, now? Or is it circumstance? We’re all dealing with the pandemic and displaying my art at a local show just isn’t possible, now. Do I run through life’s hurdles, jump over them, run around them, or avoid them? I admit it, it’s easier sometimes to just avoid them.
Most importantly, now, I’m asking of myself, can I give more from the abundance I was given? (I am obviously not an Ayn Rand acolyte!) What’s truly important? Sure, I’d like for folks to buy my art, listen to my music, but feeding folks and getting our country back on track matter more. That’s why I volunteer at the local food bank and work locally to elect people who can bring change and justice to our system, who can ensure everyone can have the same opportunities I had and continue to have.
So what does this have to do with art? I can only hope I can create work that inspires more and more people to do that. I guess that’s why I’m so drawn to the process I’ve used to create visual artwork and music. It involves a fair amount of randomness, of luck.
So here’s to luck. To randomness. Can’t make my kind of art and music without it.