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Do you feel lucky?

Alan Braunholtz
Vail, Colorado CO

I can be a lucky guy. I discovered why helmets are a good idea while actually wearing one ” something I normally never do.

My last coherent thoughts after a couple of mistakes in a racecourse were an “oh dear!” followed by a simultaneous “wow that’s a hard bang” and “nice helmet” before it all faded softly away.

The next semi-organized neuron activity prompted me to contemplate my good fortune in putting on that old yellow helmet for no reason I could discern.



Life is a lot more about luck than most of us care to admit. Just being born is a huge personal triumph over astronomical odds. Out of millions of possibilities your parents had you. Multiply that by the chance of them even meeting, let alone liking each other.

Each one of us is a lottery winner right from the start. Then there’s the matter of where we were born. Born in the U.S.A. or western Europe and you’re luckier than most of the other lottery winners out there. It doesn’t take much world traveling to realize how fortunate we are here and appreciate that we’ve fallen in to a better life than is possible for most of the world.



I know in my life almost all the good things came about serendipitiously. I found out about Vail courtesy of a chance meeting at Boulder’s Drunken Halloween mall crawl (now defunct). Found my future wife when she choose to work part-time in the same coffee shop as me.

The list goes on and on. My major skill is to try not to screw any good fortune up by being overtly stupid. Bad luck is different from stupidity, as anyone who drives drunk for example will eventually find out.

With a different roll of the dice my life would be very different, maybe better, but probably worse ” I could’ve been born in Darfur for instance.



Napoleon knew how important luck was. Once after a conversation about a new general who had a good pedigree he said “yes, but is he lucky?” Making sensible decisions and being in a position to benefit from those decisions can help create your own luck. Sometimes, though, it’s merely a toss of a coin.

Perhaps it’s a state of mind, an innate view of life, whether the glass is half full or half empty. Is it bad luck to crash your car or good luck that you didn’t die? It may be up to your attitude.

Expectations and privilege can provide a different view of the same glass. Recently Vail provided a free day of lessons and skiing and riding to some Denver school children through their diversity program. On a cold, icy day these children couldn’t have looked more excited and happy. Their mood contrasted sharply with one family inside Bailey’s; “the weather’s too cold, the sky’s too grey, the snow’s too hard”, they apparently felt too “hard done by” to be out in Vail on that particular day.

Vail and “hard done by” don’t really go together in my mind. The Vail Valley, in general, and Vail Mountain, in particular, are two of the more pleasant places in the world to be. Any day here should be at least a glass half full. Perhaps we need more Denver school children knocking around on a regular basis to remind us of that. A quick Internet tour to any dozen of impoverished areas in the world should have the same effect for almost all citizens of the wealthy first-world democracies.

Maybe it’s not if you are lucky or unlucky, but whether you feel fate is smiling or frowning on you that matters. My favorite athletes know this (at least in their interviews) and even with all their skill and hard work, they enjoy every point, every play, every good stroke and every victory, as nothing in sports is a sure thing.

Assume you’re going to win and you won’t be a happy sportsman.

Victories mean less while you dwell on all the bad breaks, freak bounces, wrong calls that conspire against you ” it’s all so unfair.

Why not enjoy the luck you have and be encouraged, even inspired, a little to use it.

Sharing luck or good fortune helps one appreciate it more than hoarding it. It’s just your due and we’re all due more than we’ve got.

Alan Braunholtz of Vail writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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