I read a book recently that told the story of two sons. The mother of the first son died while giving birth but the boy had a very loving father whose success allowed the boy a rather privileged up-bringing. Although the generous father could provide anything the boy desired, his son seemed to have no need for things money could buy; the world simply provided those things for him. He excelled in school, was popular among his classmates, could master any sport he played, had numerous admirers and an impressive physical build; It appeared luck was on his side. However, any personal relationships he formed ended in disaster. The son himself never suffered but he brought pain and destruction to those he became close to – girlfriends, schoolmates, coworkers.
The second son was born prematurely, with a hole in his lung, to a single mother. He remained in hospital for months while his mother hoped for a recovery but when she couldn’t stand to be apart from him any longer she removed him and cared for him at home. The mother watched over her son closely and slowly he recovered. Small and fragile, the boy often endured injuries – sprained ligaments, broken bones, countless viruses. At a young age the boy’s mother passed away and he found himself living with his maternal father who couldn’t hold a job and ended up in prison which left the boy living on the streets. This boy, however unlucky he seemed, always appreciated any small kindness and seemed fascinated by everything the world had to offer.
The novel is “The Fortunate Son” by Walter Mosley. The reason I found it so captivating was because the events that seem to dictate whether someone is considered ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ are not necessarily related to how we perceive the world and if we are happy or unhappy. The first son seemed to have the world handed to him yet he was never satisfied, never truly happy even though he could not control the bad things that happened to the people around him. Even after his long-term girlfriend confessed her love to him and they had a daughter together, he knew he wasn’t truly happy. He never felt understood, never satisfied. The second son, even after becoming homeless and had to walk with a limp after being involved in a shoot-out seemed able to appreciate a small favour from a stranger. So it would seem that ‘luck’ would be having the ability to find happiness even through the bad. In the case of the two sons in the story, their outlook on life seemed to be inherent, something beyond their control. So it would seem to me, our interpretation of the world around us matters more than the actual events that happen to us. The fortunate are the people who can look past the superficial, see the depth and find its beauty.