Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Luck Illusion

Every month, members of teamTEENauthor write a blog post for teens on a specific topic. March’s topic is Luck.

Good Luck. Get Lucky. Lucky Number Seven. Lucky Lotto Numbers. The Luck of the Draw.

We all seem to spend a lot of our time trying to 'play' the game of life. Every one of us turning on a giant roulette, wheel waiting to land on that fated number. Then we’ll be millionaires, get the girl (or guy), get the A grade and finally be all that we’ve ever wanted to be. The flipside of this (sometimes absurd) hope is bone-crushing disappointment.

We depend so much on kind fortune that I wonder if it does us more harm than good. For this, I’d like to call to account in the Court of Epic Discontent, William Shakespeare. His eponymous characters, Romeo and Juliet, 'two star cross'd lovers', are 'fated' to their doom from the very first line; Macbeth’s threat to Scotland is destined to fail, Othello is predestined to be tricked by Iago, and there is always going to be a shipwreck in the Tempest.

 By telling us stories with the endings first the great bard gave a certain inevitability to all his tragedies, making events that were merely coincidental inevitable. It wasn’t just Shakespeare, though. From Le Morte d’Arthur ('We shall now seek that which we shall not find') to The Hunger Games ('May the odds be ever in your favour'), authors, playwrights and screenwriters have been drip-feeding us serendipitous dinners for centuries.

Take James Cameron’s Titanic, for instance. The true events that film is based on are often described as a serious case of ‘bad luck’. If that pesky iceberg hadn’t been there at that time then everything would have been fine. Neat and tidy. However, a colossal series of errors led to the Titanic’s demise, luck didn’t actually have all that much to do with it.

So… I hear you ask. Eliza, what is your point?

My point is – luck is an illusion. And here’s the 'Inception' moment: the illusion works. If you believe in your good luck, you can make pretty amazing things happen. It happened to me in 2012 with the release of my first novel, Sacerdos. I had dreamed of being published for years and before I knew it, I was in Amazon’s top ten.

Luck isn’t a universal force that creates fantastical things, it’s more often a culmination of hard work and self-belief. Imagine, what a put down it would be, after years of training for the 2016 Olympics for people to say, you don’t deserve the Gold Medal, you just “got lucky”. So rather than believing in providence, destiny or chance, how about believing in yourself? It can work wonders.
Elizabeth Amisu is a writer, reviewer of film and fiction, and a lecturer in Film and English. She is the author of The Sacerdos Mysteries. Her third novel, Waterblood, will be released on Kindle in April.

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