Some thoughts on being lucky

“Oh, you’re so lucky.”

I hear it all the time–in emails people send me, in conversations, in feedback on my Web site. “Oh, you’re so lucky.”

Why am I so lucky? For reasons that have nothing to do with luck. You have a girlfriend who likes bondage? Oh, you’re so lucky.” “You have more than one partner, and everybody is OK with that? Oh, you’re so lucky.” “Oh, you own your own business? You’re so lucky.”

It’s profoundly annoying. No, I am not so lucky. I have the partners I have, and I live the life I live, because i sat down and made conscious, deliberate decisions about the way I want my life to look and the people i want to share it with. Luck has nothing to do with it. I own a business because I chose to start a business, and accept the risk that comes along with that. I have the partners I have because these are the people who I have chosen to share my life with, and they are with me because they have chosen to share their lives with me.


“Oh, you’re so lucky.”

It seems as if people actually do believe that their lives are all about random chance. The job they have? Luck. The partner they’re with? Luck. The shape of their lives? All random happenstance; luck of the draw, that’s just the way it turned out.

I cannot rightly apprehend what would make someone feel so profoundly disempowered in his life. “Oh, you’re so lucky”–this is the cry of someone who sees something he wants but feels utterly powerless to have it, someone who goes through life seeing only a random collection of unrelated events, driven by pure chance, with no connection between them and no hope of comprehension. The person who feels empowered–the person who feels like he can have the things he wants, if he just puts his mind to it–does not see luck.

“Oh, you’re so lucky.” I live with a woman who enjoys being tied up because I share with my partners the things that interest me, and the things that I like; I communicate with them, and build a foundation of honesty and trust and mutual respect. This is not luck. I have received countless emails from my BDSM Web site that are variations on one of two themes–“I want to try this stuff but I’m afraid to tell my partner, what should I do?” and “I have always wanted to try this stuff, but I didn’t tell my partner, and after we’d been together for fifteen years he told me that he’s always wanted to try it too.” Well, see, there you go. If you don’t ask for what you want, don’t expect to get what you want–luck isn’t going to help you.


Of course, a person who does not believe it is possible for him to have something is not going to feel empowered to seek it. I wonder, though, what does he see when he sees other people living the way he wants to live, but believes is impossible? What is it that makes him feel so disempowered? Why should these things be accessible to others but inaccessible to him? “Oh, you’re so lucky.” We make our own luck. A person does not start a business by accident; it’s not like you’re walking down the street one day and you see a busines lying on the ground that’s fallen out of someone’s pocket and say “w00t! Lookit that–wow, I’m lucky!” And the conduct of a romantic relationship is no different. One does not choose a partner by luck; one does not have an exciting and rich sex life by luck. “Jeepers, you got Betty Sue in the Mate Lottery and I got stuch with Sally May–I hear Betty Sue’s really kinky. Boy, you sure got lucky!”

So a person who feels disempowered in his life, who believes his life is nothing more than a series of random unconnected events–how does he choose a partner? What does he say to his partner–if he does not see any hope of controlling his life, and does not see any way for him to effect any control over his destiny, what does he talk about?

“Oh, you’re so lucky.” Every time someone says that to me, a part of me wants to grab him by the shirt collar and scream, “Do you have the faintest idea what you’re saying? Do you even realize how much it says about you and the world you live in? This is your fucking life, and nobody is accountable for the way it looks but you! If there are things you want in your life, then for God’s sake, why aren’t you going after them??! What’s holding you back? This is your fucking life, man! It’s the only one you’ll ever have! DO something about it, already! Don’t insult both of us by telling me how lucky I am because I have something and you want it, go and get it already!

“Oh, you’re so lucky.” It’s insulting and baffling at the same time. Insulting, because it totally misses the decisions I’ve made that have made me who I am; baffling, because anybody can make these choices, and indeed people do, every day. A person who wants something but chooses not to pursue it turns his back on what he wants, and then is surprised when he doesn’t have it. What the fuck? Your life, every day, is shaped by the choices you make. Don’t like the music? Change the tune!

46 thoughts on “Some thoughts on being lucky

  1. In my humble opinion, “you’re so lucky” is actually a transliteration of
    “I envy you”

    People are sheep and are envious of those who fear not to tread where others fear tread.

    anyway, I think you are so lucky to have a mind which grasps the deep nuances of life, liberty and incidently, the exact number of throes to safely restrain said willing GF.

    πŸ™‚

  2. In my humble opinion, “you’re so lucky” is actually a transliteration of
    “I envy you”

    People are sheep and are envious of those who fear not to tread where others fear tread.

    anyway, I think you are so lucky to have a mind which grasps the deep nuances of life, liberty and incidently, the exact number of throes to safely restrain said willing GF.

    πŸ™‚

  3. I agree with you. However, since it would be out of character for me to completely agree with you, allow me to play devil’s advocate and argue that luck, or rather chance, is indeed a factor to a varying extent. We do have a lot of say in the progress of our lives, but to say that we are in total control is to ignore the influence that the rest of the universe has on the way things unfold.

    What I’m talking about could be categorized as part of chaos theory. The guy who misses his plane and therefore misses the horrible crash it the stereotypical example. Such grandiose and obvious chance events are certainly the exception rather than the norm, but I do find that our lives are affected by subtle unconscious events in ways that snowball into effects that could not possibly have been foreseen when the initial event happened.

    I’ll illustrate three events from my own life:

    * When I was a senior in high school, and had just been accepted to the University of Florida, I procrastinated in filling out and submitting my housing request form. In fact, I ended up submitting it past the deadline, and as a result found myself stuck in the dorm that was my very last choice- an unairconditioned hell hole that was inconveniently located relative to my classes. There I met , and I don’t need to explain the degree to which this has had an enormous and lasting positive effect on my life. I mailed a single form in late, and my life was completely changed for the better.

    To be clear, if I hadn’t I would have never met her. We never once had a single class together, and any overlap in our social circles was a direct result of us living in the same building and on the same floor. I likely would have never even passed her on campus.

    * Similar situation. Freshman year I had a calculus discussion class, in which I always sat at the same desk. Always. Every single time- except one particular day when I was running late, and the only available desk when I got there was on the other side of the room.

    I never socialized with the people in my discussion class, partially because none of them seemed the least bit interesting to me but mostly because I just didn’t strike up conversations with strangers then, but on this one particular day the guy I ended up sitting next to happened to have, at the top of his stack of class books, photocopied pages from a role playing game supplement that I’d been eagerly anticipating the release of (the Robotech RPG, Invid Invasion supplement in case you care). I hadn’t known the book was out yet, and this guy obviously had access to a copy. Had I not been late to class that day, or had he arranged his stack of books differently, I never would have given him a second thought. My interest in the game overcame my shyness, however, and I intercepted him after class and asked about it. We ended up talking for about 40 minutes, and he invited me to join his RPG group that Saturday.

    That group formed the basis of my social group for the next 6 years. Who I associated with, where I lived, and even where I worked were tremendously influenced by this group, and I’m still friends with some of them today.

    * After graduation, Kim and I decided to move back to Tampa. The date we set to move was, as I recall, somewhat arbitrary. I came to Tampa first to set up our new home and find a job, and Kim stayed in Gainesville for another month (working at a job that she originally became aware of through one of the aforementioned friends). I moved to Tampa on a Wednesday. On Thursday I went around to temp agencies and filled out applications. One of them asked if I could come in for computer skills/typing testing the next day. I did, and that evening (Friday) they called and let me know that there was a company that was opening an office on Monday and needed a temp immediately.

    That was 9 1/2 years ago, and as you know I worked for Cap One up until last month, and I’m still a contractor there. Needless to say, if I’d moved to Tampa a week later, or even a day or two later, the next decade of my life would’ve worked out significantly differently.

    Anyway, you get my point, which was really just to talk about myself a whole lot. I think I’ve now done so quite adequately. πŸ˜‰

    • I think there’s a distinction here.. somewhere.. wait.. oh there it is! Sorry, wasn’t wearing my glasses.

      I was lucky to have met Franklin, but it is not because of luck that I am in a joyful, deeply loving polyamorous relationship. I did that (we did that), and I would have done it otherwise.

      I was lucky to find a rather randomly placed “catalog of tomorrow” in the seat pocket in front of me on a flight from san francisco. This book had a rather lengthy article on nanotech and was a defining moment which began a cascade of life altering decisions. It was chance that placed that book, but it is not because of chance that I live a life that gives me purpose. I did that, and I would have done it otherwise.

      We provide the framework, and chance fills in the details..

      • I was lucky to have met Franklin, but it is not because of luck that I am in a joyful, deeply loving polyamorous relationship. […] We provide the framework, and chance fills in the details.

        ‘s post sums up the main comment i wanted to make, and your comment is the obvious response to it.

        but…

        i’m not convinced it’s true. or true enough. what if chance doesn’t give you any details that fit your framework, at all?
        because there’s no guarantee that it will.

        the oddball who was born in the wrong setting is such a cliche of literature that i figure i barely need to dwell on it, except to note that it only makes an interesting story for the ones who are somehow able to overcome that adversity– for those who aren’t, you have to figure life just sucks. less dramatic but closer to home, lately i notice i have a bunch of bright, interesting, attractive single friends who are unable to find anyone to go out with– not because they have nothing to offer, but because no-one they’ve found fits their framework.

        it’s cold comfort for me to tell them they just aren’t living right.

        • s point is right, point is right, my point is right, your point is right, and the point I’m just about to make is right. If you follow this to it’s logical conclusion, then we’re telling the 8 year old who has leukemia and is going to die within the year that the reason he can’t be a firefighter when he grows up is because he’s got a bad attitude.

          I don’t think any of us are saying that.

          It’s insulting when people tell me that I’m lucky to be in a kinky, polyamorous relationship. I gave up a good relationship and made hard choices and spent quite a bit of time feeling like crap and holding on anyways to get here.

          It’s also (profoundly) insulting for me to tell that kid to stop whining and get a job.

          We’re given a mixed bag of opportunity, it’s what we *do* with that opportunity that really defines us. Yeah, I’m one of those people banging my head against the wall because it seems that no one in the world, save maybe a couple of people, sees eye to eye with me. But I don’t see it as bad luck. Even though, for all intents and purposes, it kinda is. I don’t see it as bad luck because then I will feel powerless, and I’m not powerless. No matter what I’m handed, I’m not powerless. I always have the ability to do something to change my life. And I don’t think you have to disregard the effects of chance in order to embrace that power.

          • i have a friend who fled the dot-com crash to become a professional gambler; he plays mostly online poker, though at the moment he’s at a real live face-to-face tournament in las vegas. when i first met him he was a math grad student at the university of chicago. he knows his shit.

            a little while ago, during his most recent iteration of refining his skills to move into the next-higher-betting games, he had a day where he lost money hand over fist. because they were higher-betting games than he was used to playing, he lost a lot of money. he was horrified, and went through a real crisis of confidence.

            i kept being reminded of this when talking with my single friends. because poker’s subject to good statistical analysis, and my friend knows the math. he’d run the simulations; he ran them again, putting in the hands he’d gotten and the cards he’d seen. he could prove that even though he’d lost, he’d made the right plays, the plays that stood the best chance of winning or of losing the least. he concluded that emotionally, that was what he’d need to focus on: actions rather than outcomes. making the right plays rather than winning the piles of cash.

            because even if your play is perfect, you don’t always win.

            it still took him days to work up his nerve to go back to those higher-stakes games– he dropped down to the easier games for a while, just to build back his confidence. and this for something he could mathematically prove was right.

            dating, by comparison, i concluded, sucks.

            of course i agree with you, and everyone else in the thread. if i didn’t mostly agree with i would never have replied. sticking with my example, it would be insulting to the point of sheer stupidity to say that my friend the math whiz who’s put hundreds or thousands of hours of study into poker and is now making a decent living at it, wins games because he’s “lucky”. although… apparently people do in fact say this sort of thing to him all the time– the advantage of professional gambling, he says, is that instead of being annoyed when he meets stupid people, he’s happy because they’re about to give him money. πŸ™‚

        • “i’m not convinced it’s true. or true enough. what if chance doesn’t give you any details that fit your framework, at all?
          because there’s no guarantee that it will.”

          Mmm…I have to disagree with that.

          With six billion people on the planet, the odds are pretty damn good that you will encounter people–likely many, many people–who are a good fit for you. It’s up to you to recognize those people, and pursue the opportunities you’re presented with.

          There’s no guarantee that you’ll win the lottery or find a hundred-dollar bill lying on the ground; those things might happen, sure, but they’re unlikely, and the odds that chance will favor you in that way are pretty small. On the other hand, though, you are exposed, every day, to a wide variety of people and situations that offer you opportunities of all sorts; whether or not you choose to pursue those opportunities is all about the decisions you make, not about fortune.

          • With six billion people on the planet, the odds are pretty damn good that you will encounter people–likely many, many people–who are a good fit for you. It’s up to you to recognize those people, and pursue the opportunities you’re presented with.

            if you agree it’s a matter of odds at all, you’ve conceded my point.

            i’ll concede to you that, though i don’t think the usual odds are as overwhelmingly favorable as you seem to, for every aspect of the equation there are things you can do to jigger things to your benefit. you of course won’t meet all six billion residents of the planet, or anything close; but you can arrange your life to have more opportunities to meet people, and that will let you roll the dice more. of course just meeting isn’t enough; you have to get to know each one well enough to have some idea if they might be a good match. but you can learn to be more outgoing, to make good small talk, to quickly learn enough about a person to make a guess. that will improve your odds of finding out, if you do meet a good match. and you can arrange for those opportunities to meet folks to be biased towards folks likely to meet your criteria.

            but you’re still rolling dice. you can take out personal ads and spend more and more time meeting prospects and turn it into a full- or part-time job if it’s important enough to you.

            if it’s important enough to you, that single search can take up your whole life, crowding out all time for any other interests or activities you might otherwise have.

            but i know people who have done all that and still haven’t found a good match– while i, who did very few of those things, am quite happily paired. i know i’m lucky.

            just meeting isn’t everything. relationships take work, hard work. poly relationships can take a lot of hard work. if you’ve maintained a relationship for any decent length of time i figure you can be justifiably proud of it. it’s completely insulting to say you’re just lucky.

            but there was certainly luck involved, too.

          • *nods* Agreed.

            I know that the reason why I have three amazing, wonderful, long-term, supporting-each-other-through-thick-and-thin, sexually-compatible (wheee!), loving relationships is because *all* of us have put in a lot of hard work, a lot of emotional processing, a lot of doing-difficult-things-when-we-didn’t-feel-like-it, a lot of working on our own personal issues and engaging in personal growth, etc.

            I also know that I feel *deeply fortunate* to have met my beloveds, and that the odds against maintaining successful cross-continental, multi-year relationships are kind of a bitch. So, yes — I do feel very lucky to love and be loved by my partners . . . but I don’t think that these relationships were formed by one or more of us “just being lucky.”

            (I do differentiate between someone enviously/bitterly saying “Oh, you’re so lucky,” when what they *really* mean is “Oh, you have more than what I consider to be your fair share of Commodity X,” and someone saying “You’re lucky to have found each other,” meant sincerely, and not discounting the work put in by all parties concerned along the way.)

            So . . . some of the above, I guess?

            — A <3

      • I was lucky to find a rather randomly placed “catalog of tomorrow” in the seat pocket in front of me on a flight from san francisco

        Oh, how did I fail to mention that? I had a similar situation that resulted in me being introduced to “Engines of Creation” by chance back in ’93, and thus my entire worldview was completely rewritten. I probably would’ve ended up learning about nanotech and Extropianism later on anyway, but not until many years later when I met you and .

        We provide the framework, and chance fills in the details..

        Nicely put.

    • Thank you so much for reading my mind and typing this up. πŸ™‚

      To tacit:
      I think that luck/chance semantics aside, the underlying message in this rant is right on, and quite inspirational.

  4. I agree with you. However, since it would be out of character for me to completely agree with you, allow me to play devil’s advocate and argue that luck, or rather chance, is indeed a factor to a varying extent. We do have a lot of say in the progress of our lives, but to say that we are in total control is to ignore the influence that the rest of the universe has on the way things unfold.

    What I’m talking about could be categorized as part of chaos theory. The guy who misses his plane and therefore misses the horrible crash it the stereotypical example. Such grandiose and obvious chance events are certainly the exception rather than the norm, but I do find that our lives are affected by subtle unconscious events in ways that snowball into effects that could not possibly have been foreseen when the initial event happened.

    I’ll illustrate three events from my own life:

    * When I was a senior in high school, and had just been accepted to the University of Florida, I procrastinated in filling out and submitting my housing request form. In fact, I ended up submitting it past the deadline, and as a result found myself stuck in the dorm that was my very last choice- an unairconditioned hell hole that was inconveniently located relative to my classes. There I met , and I don’t need to explain the degree to which this has had an enormous and lasting positive effect on my life. I mailed a single form in late, and my life was completely changed for the better.

    To be clear, if I hadn’t I would have never met her. We never once had a single class together, and any overlap in our social circles was a direct result of us living in the same building and on the same floor. I likely would have never even passed her on campus.

    * Similar situation. Freshman year I had a calculus discussion class, in which I always sat at the same desk. Always. Every single time- except one particular day when I was running late, and the only available desk when I got there was on the other side of the room.

    I never socialized with the people in my discussion class, partially because none of them seemed the least bit interesting to me but mostly because I just didn’t strike up conversations with strangers then, but on this one particular day the guy I ended up sitting next to happened to have, at the top of his stack of class books, photocopied pages from a role playing game supplement that I’d been eagerly anticipating the release of (the Robotech RPG, Invid Invasion supplement in case you care). I hadn’t known the book was out yet, and this guy obviously had access to a copy. Had I not been late to class that day, or had he arranged his stack of books differently, I never would have given him a second thought. My interest in the game overcame my shyness, however, and I intercepted him after class and asked about it. We ended up talking for about 40 minutes, and he invited me to join his RPG group that Saturday.

    That group formed the basis of my social group for the next 6 years. Who I associated with, where I lived, and even where I worked were tremendously influenced by this group, and I’m still friends with some of them today.

    * After graduation, Kim and I decided to move back to Tampa. The date we set to move was, as I recall, somewhat arbitrary. I came to Tampa first to set up our new home and find a job, and Kim stayed in Gainesville for another month (working at a job that she originally became aware of through one of the aforementioned friends). I moved to Tampa on a Wednesday. On Thursday I went around to temp agencies and filled out applications. One of them asked if I could come in for computer skills/typing testing the next day. I did, and that evening (Friday) they called and let me know that there was a company that was opening an office on Monday and needed a temp immediately.

    That was 9 1/2 years ago, and as you know I worked for Cap One up until last month, and I’m still a contractor there. Needless to say, if I’d moved to Tampa a week later, or even a day or two later, the next decade of my life would’ve worked out significantly differently.

    Anyway, you get my point, which was really just to talk about myself a whole lot. I think I’ve now done so quite adequately. πŸ˜‰

  5. I think there’s a distinction here.. somewhere.. wait.. oh there it is! Sorry, wasn’t wearing my glasses.

    I was lucky to have met Franklin, but it is not because of luck that I am in a joyful, deeply loving polyamorous relationship. I did that (we did that), and I would have done it otherwise.

    I was lucky to find a rather randomly placed “catalog of tomorrow” in the seat pocket in front of me on a flight from san francisco. This book had a rather lengthy article on nanotech and was a defining moment which began a cascade of life altering decisions. It was chance that placed that book, but it is not because of chance that I live a life that gives me purpose. I did that, and I would have done it otherwise.

    We provide the framework, and chance fills in the details..

  6. Gosh

    I do believe that luck or chance can play into what happens in our lives. However I also agree – and share in your desire to shake the holy goo outta folks that see my accomplishments as “lucky.”

    I work at my life. That’s dharma, ya gotta.

    I must say that “we provide the framework, and chance fills in the details…” is the kinda line I’d see in a good book.

    However, I enjoy reading Franklin’s thoughts, and it’s nice to think that I stumbled across the polyfamilies group, then his page, now his live journal. This has led to me getting to stumble into the web journals of those he has been inter-connected with. Sure, it’s not necessarily luck, but it was fortunate. I didn’t go surfing about poly-amory, I went surfing about dealing with jealousy in open relationships.

    Fortune is luck? I dunno.

  7. Gosh

    I do believe that luck or chance can play into what happens in our lives. However I also agree – and share in your desire to shake the holy goo outta folks that see my accomplishments as “lucky.”

    I work at my life. That’s dharma, ya gotta.

    I must say that “we provide the framework, and chance fills in the details…” is the kinda line I’d see in a good book.

    However, I enjoy reading Franklin’s thoughts, and it’s nice to think that I stumbled across the polyfamilies group, then his page, now his live journal. This has led to me getting to stumble into the web journals of those he has been inter-connected with. Sure, it’s not necessarily luck, but it was fortunate. I didn’t go surfing about poly-amory, I went surfing about dealing with jealousy in open relationships.

    Fortune is luck? I dunno.

  8. Whether I agree or not, doesn’t matter. You do such nice rants though, and there’s a similiar comment that also drives me spazzo.

    I don’t take “You’re so lucky” as an insult because I know it could be worse. I’ve had “You’re so blessed” said to me, which makes me want to slap the person so hard. Firstly, it’s the assumption of a belief in god (which I don’t have). Secondly, it’s the arrogance on their part to think that a god would have any interest in making my life better or worse. Thirdly, and this is the one you cover in your lucky blurt, is that I am not responsible for my accomplishments and my failures.

    I know that there’s a lot to do in my life that are the direct result of good luck, like your mate datanode has mentioned. Right place, right time kind of thing. I rate good friendships very highly and absolutely neccessary to my well being, and some of my friends I met due to pure happenstance. True, it was developing on that meeting that makes a good friendship. It’s not like we were soulmates from the first five minutes. But there was a chance that I would never have met them.

    In a way, “You’re so lucky” is one of those standard phrases, like people saying “I’m sorry” at a funeral. They see a successful happy person and want to congratulate that success, and don’t know the right words. It might not even be envy, but more of an acknowledgement. Praising people is often difficult if you’re out of the habit.

    I used to bristle at “You get the best of both worlds” when people find out I am bisexual. Sometimes, if I am motivated enough, I’ll explain that it takes the same amount of energy and skill to have my relationships as it does theirs, and to me, it only means that I find men *and* women sexually attractive. And as for getting the “best”, thanks for the compliment on my ability to pull a good root πŸ™‚

    • “I used to bristle at “You get the best of both worlds” when people find out I am bisexual.”

      People say that? Wow.

      You get both worlds–best and worst, good and bad, problems and drama, just like…well, just like everyone else, really. As a nice bonus, you also get a heaping spoonful of prejudice, Misunderstanding, and “Ohh, hot bi babe, will you come and fuck me and my girlfriend?” (Whether that last is a bug or a feature depends, i suppose, on who you are.)

    • “I used to bristle at “You get the best of both worlds” when people find out I am bisexual.”

      People say that? Wow.

      You get both worlds–best and worst, good and bad, problems and drama, just like…well, just like everyone else, really. As a nice bonus, you also get a heaping spoonful of prejudice, Misunderstanding, and “Ohh, hot bi babe, will you come and fuck me and my girlfriend?” (Whether that last is a bug or a feature depends, i suppose, on who you are.)

  9. Whether I agree or not, doesn’t matter. You do such nice rants though, and there’s a similiar comment that also drives me spazzo.

    I don’t take “You’re so lucky” as an insult because I know it could be worse. I’ve had “You’re so blessed” said to me, which makes me want to slap the person so hard. Firstly, it’s the assumption of a belief in god (which I don’t have). Secondly, it’s the arrogance on their part to think that a god would have any interest in making my life better or worse. Thirdly, and this is the one you cover in your lucky blurt, is that I am not responsible for my accomplishments and my failures.

    I know that there’s a lot to do in my life that are the direct result of good luck, like your mate datanode has mentioned. Right place, right time kind of thing. I rate good friendships very highly and absolutely neccessary to my well being, and some of my friends I met due to pure happenstance. True, it was developing on that meeting that makes a good friendship. It’s not like we were soulmates from the first five minutes. But there was a chance that I would never have met them.

    In a way, “You’re so lucky” is one of those standard phrases, like people saying “I’m sorry” at a funeral. They see a successful happy person and want to congratulate that success, and don’t know the right words. It might not even be envy, but more of an acknowledgement. Praising people is often difficult if you’re out of the habit.

    I used to bristle at “You get the best of both worlds” when people find out I am bisexual. Sometimes, if I am motivated enough, I’ll explain that it takes the same amount of energy and skill to have my relationships as it does theirs, and to me, it only means that I find men *and* women sexually attractive. And as for getting the “best”, thanks for the compliment on my ability to pull a good root πŸ™‚

  10. A-motherfucking-men.

    josiah might actually do a workshop on this at Spring ’06 something along the lines of “being your own person and doing what you want instead of what everyone else wants or what you think everyone else wants.” which is a cumbersome name for a workshop. so he’s thinking of calling it “adult empowerment.”

    as a poly-kid with a fucking awesome life, i totally totally hear you. i get mopy i have bad days, etc. but for the most part, life rules.

    you should publish this. i want to link to this. or print it out and stick it on EVERYONE’s car. πŸ™‚

  11. A-motherfucking-men.

    josiah might actually do a workshop on this at Spring ’06 something along the lines of “being your own person and doing what you want instead of what everyone else wants or what you think everyone else wants.” which is a cumbersome name for a workshop. so he’s thinking of calling it “adult empowerment.”

    as a poly-kid with a fucking awesome life, i totally totally hear you. i get mopy i have bad days, etc. but for the most part, life rules.

    you should publish this. i want to link to this. or print it out and stick it on EVERYONE’s car. πŸ™‚

  12. Amen. This is the primary reason I started blogging–to record all the joyous moments of my “lucky” polyamorous/BDSM life as well as all the arguments, pain, excruciating self-growth and plain hard work that goes into creating the possibility of that joy.

  13. Amen. This is the primary reason I started blogging–to record all the joyous moments of my “lucky” polyamorous/BDSM life as well as all the arguments, pain, excruciating self-growth and plain hard work that goes into creating the possibility of that joy.

  14. Thank you so much for reading my mind and typing this up. πŸ™‚

    To tacit:
    I think that luck/chance semantics aside, the underlying message in this rant is right on, and quite inspirational.

  15. “this is the cry of someone who sees something he wants but feels utterly powerless to have it”
    That is my opinion of “lucky” verbatim. I just want to say that I agree completely with what you said. People these days have no balls. They prefer to just vegetate rather than pursue something they want. Whether it is from laziness or lack of substantial desire, they always prefer to avoid risk and potential conflict.
    Several times when I go up and say exactly what I want or what is on my mind people tell me that I must be crazy. As if being straight forward became a bad thing.

    Of course there are different stages. You can draw a parallel to sociology and say that this lack of ambition to pursue personal desires is what lets this society work. Sure, being that way in all instances can be rather detrimental, but in cases of relationships and achievements, it is the only way to be if your ultimate goal is satisfaction.

  16. “this is the cry of someone who sees something he wants but feels utterly powerless to have it”
    That is my opinion of “lucky” verbatim. I just want to say that I agree completely with what you said. People these days have no balls. They prefer to just vegetate rather than pursue something they want. Whether it is from laziness or lack of substantial desire, they always prefer to avoid risk and potential conflict.
    Several times when I go up and say exactly what I want or what is on my mind people tell me that I must be crazy. As if being straight forward became a bad thing.

    Of course there are different stages. You can draw a parallel to sociology and say that this lack of ambition to pursue personal desires is what lets this society work. Sure, being that way in all instances can be rather detrimental, but in cases of relationships and achievements, it is the only way to be if your ultimate goal is satisfaction.

    • I’m saying my life looks the way it does because of the choices I have made, not because of luck.

      I was lucky to have met Shelly, and in exactly the time when both of our lives afforded us the opportunity of connecting. I am not lucky for having a life that includes polyamory or BDSM; I chose to make my life include those things.

      I was lucky to have encountered a client willing to help me get set up in the office building I now house my business in; this client needed my services and was willing to give me office space rent-free in exchange for a discount on the work i do for them. i am not lucky to be a business owner; I chose to be, and would still be even if I had not met this particular client.

  17. I was lucky to have met Franklin, but it is not because of luck that I am in a joyful, deeply loving polyamorous relationship. […] We provide the framework, and chance fills in the details.

    ‘s post sums up the main comment i wanted to make, and your comment is the obvious response to it.

    but…

    i’m not convinced it’s true. or true enough. what if chance doesn’t give you any details that fit your framework, at all?
    because there’s no guarantee that it will.

    the oddball who was born in the wrong setting is such a cliche of literature that i figure i barely need to dwell on it, except to note that it only makes an interesting story for the ones who are somehow able to overcome that adversity– for those who aren’t, you have to figure life just sucks. less dramatic but closer to home, lately i notice i have a bunch of bright, interesting, attractive single friends who are unable to find anyone to go out with– not because they have nothing to offer, but because no-one they’ve found fits their framework.

    it’s cold comfort for me to tell them they just aren’t living right.

  18. Definitely, I’m whacking this one in my memories.

    My sister frequently says to me “you’re lucky you live in Canberra and not here with [family members]” and like clockwork I always say “luck had nothing to do with it, you could move away too”.

  19. Definitely, I’m whacking this one in my memories.

    My sister frequently says to me “you’re lucky you live in Canberra and not here with [family members]” and like clockwork I always say “luck had nothing to do with it, you could move away too”.

  20. s point is right, point is right, my point is right, your point is right, and the point I’m just about to make is right. If you follow this to it’s logical conclusion, then we’re telling the 8 year old who has leukemia and is going to die within the year that the reason he can’t be a firefighter when he grows up is because he’s got a bad attitude.

    I don’t think any of us are saying that.

    It’s insulting when people tell me that I’m lucky to be in a kinky, polyamorous relationship. I gave up a good relationship and made hard choices and spent quite a bit of time feeling like crap and holding on anyways to get here.

    It’s also (profoundly) insulting for me to tell that kid to stop whining and get a job.

    We’re given a mixed bag of opportunity, it’s what we *do* with that opportunity that really defines us. Yeah, I’m one of those people banging my head against the wall because it seems that no one in the world, save maybe a couple of people, sees eye to eye with me. But I don’t see it as bad luck. Even though, for all intents and purposes, it kinda is. I don’t see it as bad luck because then I will feel powerless, and I’m not powerless. No matter what I’m handed, I’m not powerless. I always have the ability to do something to change my life. And I don’t think you have to disregard the effects of chance in order to embrace that power.

  21. I was lucky to find a rather randomly placed “catalog of tomorrow” in the seat pocket in front of me on a flight from san francisco

    Oh, how did I fail to mention that? I had a similar situation that resulted in me being introduced to “Engines of Creation” by chance back in ’93, and thus my entire worldview was completely rewritten. I probably would’ve ended up learning about nanotech and Extropianism later on anyway, but not until many years later when I met you and .

    We provide the framework, and chance fills in the details..

    Nicely put.

  22. i have a friend who fled the dot-com crash to become a professional gambler; he plays mostly online poker, though at the moment he’s at a real live face-to-face tournament in las vegas. when i first met him he was a math grad student at the university of chicago. he knows his shit.

    a little while ago, during his most recent iteration of refining his skills to move into the next-higher-betting games, he had a day where he lost money hand over fist. because they were higher-betting games than he was used to playing, he lost a lot of money. he was horrified, and went through a real crisis of confidence.

    i kept being reminded of this when talking with my single friends. because poker’s subject to good statistical analysis, and my friend knows the math. he’d run the simulations; he ran them again, putting in the hands he’d gotten and the cards he’d seen. he could prove that even though he’d lost, he’d made the right plays, the plays that stood the best chance of winning or of losing the least. he concluded that emotionally, that was what he’d need to focus on: actions rather than outcomes. making the right plays rather than winning the piles of cash.

    because even if your play is perfect, you don’t always win.

    it still took him days to work up his nerve to go back to those higher-stakes games– he dropped down to the easier games for a while, just to build back his confidence. and this for something he could mathematically prove was right.

    dating, by comparison, i concluded, sucks.

    of course i agree with you, and everyone else in the thread. if i didn’t mostly agree with i would never have replied. sticking with my example, it would be insulting to the point of sheer stupidity to say that my friend the math whiz who’s put hundreds or thousands of hours of study into poker and is now making a decent living at it, wins games because he’s “lucky”. although… apparently people do in fact say this sort of thing to him all the time– the advantage of professional gambling, he says, is that instead of being annoyed when he meets stupid people, he’s happy because they’re about to give him money. πŸ™‚

  23. I won a state-wide essay competition in 7th grade and one of my classmates said, “You’re lucky!” and I said something like, “I’m not lucky, I worked hard for that award.” she thought I was arrogant. Nice to see I’m not the only one who has had this thought before.

    I’m lucky that I was brought up in a family that valued education and encouraged me to pursue my passions, but that essay did not fall out of the sky into my lap.

  24. I won a state-wide essay competition in 7th grade and one of my classmates said, “You’re lucky!” and I said something like, “I’m not lucky, I worked hard for that award.” she thought I was arrogant. Nice to see I’m not the only one who has had this thought before.

    I’m lucky that I was brought up in a family that valued education and encouraged me to pursue my passions, but that essay did not fall out of the sky into my lap.

  25. “i’m not convinced it’s true. or true enough. what if chance doesn’t give you any details that fit your framework, at all?
    because there’s no guarantee that it will.”

    Mmm…I have to disagree with that.

    With six billion people on the planet, the odds are pretty damn good that you will encounter people–likely many, many people–who are a good fit for you. It’s up to you to recognize those people, and pursue the opportunities you’re presented with.

    There’s no guarantee that you’ll win the lottery or find a hundred-dollar bill lying on the ground; those things might happen, sure, but they’re unlikely, and the odds that chance will favor you in that way are pretty small. On the other hand, though, you are exposed, every day, to a wide variety of people and situations that offer you opportunities of all sorts; whether or not you choose to pursue those opportunities is all about the decisions you make, not about fortune.

  26. “I used to bristle at “You get the best of both worlds” when people find out I am bisexual.”

    People say that? Wow.

    You get both worlds–best and worst, good and bad, problems and drama, just like…well, just like everyone else, really. As a nice bonus, you also get a heaping spoonful of prejudice, Misunderstanding, and “Ohh, hot bi babe, will you come and fuck me and my girlfriend?” (Whether that last is a bug or a feature depends, i suppose, on who you are.)

  27. “I used to bristle at “You get the best of both worlds” when people find out I am bisexual.”

    People say that? Wow.

    You get both worlds–best and worst, good and bad, problems and drama, just like…well, just like everyone else, really. As a nice bonus, you also get a heaping spoonful of prejudice, Misunderstanding, and “Ohh, hot bi babe, will you come and fuck me and my girlfriend?” (Whether that last is a bug or a feature depends, i suppose, on who you are.)

  28. I’m saying my life looks the way it does because of the choices I have made, not because of luck.

    I was lucky to have met Shelly, and in exactly the time when both of our lives afforded us the opportunity of connecting. I am not lucky for having a life that includes polyamory or BDSM; I chose to make my life include those things.

    I was lucky to have encountered a client willing to help me get set up in the office building I now house my business in; this client needed my services and was willing to give me office space rent-free in exchange for a discount on the work i do for them. i am not lucky to be a business owner; I chose to be, and would still be even if I had not met this particular client.

  29. With six billion people on the planet, the odds are pretty damn good that you will encounter people–likely many, many people–who are a good fit for you. It’s up to you to recognize those people, and pursue the opportunities you’re presented with.

    if you agree it’s a matter of odds at all, you’ve conceded my point.

    i’ll concede to you that, though i don’t think the usual odds are as overwhelmingly favorable as you seem to, for every aspect of the equation there are things you can do to jigger things to your benefit. you of course won’t meet all six billion residents of the planet, or anything close; but you can arrange your life to have more opportunities to meet people, and that will let you roll the dice more. of course just meeting isn’t enough; you have to get to know each one well enough to have some idea if they might be a good match. but you can learn to be more outgoing, to make good small talk, to quickly learn enough about a person to make a guess. that will improve your odds of finding out, if you do meet a good match. and you can arrange for those opportunities to meet folks to be biased towards folks likely to meet your criteria.

    but you’re still rolling dice. you can take out personal ads and spend more and more time meeting prospects and turn it into a full- or part-time job if it’s important enough to you.

    if it’s important enough to you, that single search can take up your whole life, crowding out all time for any other interests or activities you might otherwise have.

    but i know people who have done all that and still haven’t found a good match– while i, who did very few of those things, am quite happily paired. i know i’m lucky.

    just meeting isn’t everything. relationships take work, hard work. poly relationships can take a lot of hard work. if you’ve maintained a relationship for any decent length of time i figure you can be justifiably proud of it. it’s completely insulting to say you’re just lucky.

    but there was certainly luck involved, too.

  30. Well said. If I may quote:

    “There is no such thing as luck. There is only adequate or inadequate
    preparation to cope with a statistical universe.” Robert A. Heinlein

    Suprising the number of people who debate this…but if you believe in luck, then you must believe it’s luck every time a batter hits the ball.

  31. Well said. If I may quote:

    “There is no such thing as luck. There is only adequate or inadequate
    preparation to cope with a statistical universe.” Robert A. Heinlein

    Suprising the number of people who debate this…but if you believe in luck, then you must believe it’s luck every time a batter hits the ball.

  32. *nods* Agreed.

    I know that the reason why I have three amazing, wonderful, long-term, supporting-each-other-through-thick-and-thin, sexually-compatible (wheee!), loving relationships is because *all* of us have put in a lot of hard work, a lot of emotional processing, a lot of doing-difficult-things-when-we-didn’t-feel-like-it, a lot of working on our own personal issues and engaging in personal growth, etc.

    I also know that I feel *deeply fortunate* to have met my beloveds, and that the odds against maintaining successful cross-continental, multi-year relationships are kind of a bitch. So, yes — I do feel very lucky to love and be loved by my partners . . . but I don’t think that these relationships were formed by one or more of us “just being lucky.”

    (I do differentiate between someone enviously/bitterly saying “Oh, you’re so lucky,” when what they *really* mean is “Oh, you have more than what I consider to be your fair share of Commodity X,” and someone saying “You’re lucky to have found each other,” meant sincerely, and not discounting the work put in by all parties concerned along the way.)

    So . . . some of the above, I guess?

    — A <3

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