A Dump of Luck

It was afternoon. It was Paris. And it was me.

I sat at a cafe outside the Pompidou in a snappy shirt. It had taken just three days for me to learn the arrondissements, the métro system, the difference between café and café crème.

And at this cafe, three days into my stay, I was urbane, I was natural, I belonged. I knew passersby thought this savvy gal in this snappy shirt was a local. Yes, Paris and I fit together like a hand in a glove.

Then a bird took a dump on me.

Or, more accurately, on my left cheek and down my snappy shirt.

“Oh, sh –” I was cut off by a fellow from Australia at the next table.

“Well, LOOK at THAT!” he boomed. I would have preferred that nobody LOOK at THAT. I was annoyed and off-kilter, ignobly thrown out of my afternoon reverie.

“It’s GOOD luck, you know!” the fellow boomed on.

“Really?” I finished wiping the good luck off my face, and looked at him.

“Yup! You’re one lucky girl.” Lucky wasn’t my first thought. Lousy was more like it. But lucky was a little more interesting.

Birds dump, rain falls, conflict happens. They are basic facts of life. What’s not basic is what we do with these facts.

When facts disagree with my version of reality, I’ve treated them with annoyance, indignation, self-pity. I’ve fought the facts. Satisfying though it may feel, it doesn’t move me forward.

We are troubled not by events, Greek philosopher Epictetus determined, but by the meaning we give them.

What if we gave the facts a slightly different meaning? What if bird droppings were lucky and traffic jams were calming? What if we pushed beyond the conventional response and found another way to define the moment?

We can crack open the way we respond to the world. And who knows what luck could dump on us?

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