Monday, December 29, 2008

Bad Luck, Good Luck, No Luck

The end of the year is just a few days away. While I am in the choir singing Good Riddance, I'm also starting to feel a bit annoyed that I spent the last four weeks of the year doing mostly the same thing at work instead of drawing the line I should have drawn. I can see what is going on around me, and so if my results are lower than my expectations, I've only myself to blame.

What combination of skill, hard work, and luck do I need to change my game? I'm not a good gambler, so this is tricky. I'm not sure what the proper ratios are, given that I've always worked hard and consider myself skilled. So it would appear that I'm left with luck, which for me has been typically fair but never what one might call, "good".

If it weren't for the Shuffle feature on my iPod I might miss out on some of my favorite Greg Brown tunes, like this one, appropriately titled, "People With Bad Luck." After the many posts and comments back and forth over the last few months about what the right course is and whether or not this bailout or that one was fair, I was totally struck by how brilliant this tune is in summing up most every exchange that's centered around the nagging theme of money and luck, Wall Street fat cats and Main Street bums. At the end of the day we're all pretty much in the same boat. Unfortunately, it's the Titanic, and a lot of unlucky passengers are going down with the band.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy this tune from one of my favorite singer-songwriters, a big dude who looks like a biker but sings like a whipporwill. I do love Greg Brown and his smart, funny, tender songs from an America other than the one hopped up on post-holiday retail sales and white-knuckling rides up and down the Dow. This one is from a terrific album, "In The Dark With You."

"People With Bad Luck"

People with the bad luck
Lookin at the people with the good luck,
And they're goin, "Ooooo-ooh-ooh...."

If you got the good luck
It's hard to figure out
What the one with the bad luck
Is carryin' on about
What would just enough of the good luck and money
Or the lack of it do
Make a young man of 40
And an old man of 22

Maybe someone you thought was very kind and true
Turned around and did somethin just plain mean to you
And it might make you cry, and it might make you real mad
And it might get you to thinkin about the kind of luck that you both had

People with the bad luck
Lookin at the people with the good luck,
And they're goin, "Ooooo-ooh-ooh...."

Don't we all want to laugh a little,
Don't we all want to cry
Don't we all want to live a little before it's time to die
If ya got the good luck
It sure might seem that way
But if you got the bad luck you
Just cannot make it through the day

People with the bad luck
Lookin at the people with the good luck,
And they're goin, "Ooooo-ooh-ooh...."

Once I had me a good friend,
He was funny and full of cheer
But his luck was always so bad
And he's no longer here
Sometimes in this world I'm wonderin that
We ain't grateful for every breath
Sometimes in this world I'm wonderin that
We don't all just drink ourselves to death

People with the bad luck
Lookin at the people with the good luck,
And they're goin, "Ooooo-ooh-ooh...."


At December 30, 2008 8:36 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Those are good lyrics. I don't know what the ratio is but personally I think that if you're reasonably intelligent the rest is all luck. I look at people who have a lot more money than me and I don't think they are any smarter. Sometimes they made different career choices. A smart person choosing to become a neurosurgeon is going to be wealthier than a smart person who chooses to be a missionary. But all other things being equal, I think luck is a big part of it. Luck to be born into a family with two highly educated parents. Luck to get an Ivy League education. Luck to meet people who open doors for you.

Yes, I believe that with hard work you can make your own luck to a certain degree. But a lot of people work hard without ever making it. And lots of lucky people haven't had to work so hard. Who knows? I guess the only thing I've learned is that if it isn't working, change it.

At January 01, 2009 9:38 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Those are good words for 2009, Doc. Here's to all of us having the courage to take that advice this year!! Happy New Year to you.

At January 02, 2009 3:54 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

It's hard to define luck. Some of it being in the right place (or wrong place) at the right time (or wrong time if you will). I've always worked hard, but it didn't necessarily change my luck. NETworking hard can work miracles. Once you get your foot in the door, they will just keep pulling on it until you have to beat them with a stick and beg for mercy.


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