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Have you been lucky in life?

By Charlie Badenhop

Each moment in life, "lucky" or "unlucky", is to be savored, learned from, and appreciated. Easier said than done? Read this heartfelt story and see for yourself.

I met an exceptional American man in Athens in my younger years. He had a beautiful and gentle French girlfriend, and everyone was always complimenting him and telling him how "lucky" he was. His usual reply was something to the effect of "Lucky or unlucky is hard for me to say, as this is only one small moment in my whole life. But I will tell you this, at this moment, I am very definitely enjoying myself and feeling thankful."

Shortly after meeting him he was thrown in jail in Greece, which in those days was run by a brutal military dictator. All his friends sat around in Athens talking about how "unlucky" he was, since the police threw him in jail with no real evidence. When I visited him and told him his friends felt terrible about his bad luck he smiled warmly and said, "Lucky or unlucky is hard for me to say. But I am sure I will have a great story to tell some day! And for this I am thankful."

After several years in jail he was released, and he returned to the States. He was traveling along the coast roads of California, when he met a lovely woman in a roadside cafe, and began to flirt with her. Unbeknownst to my friend, the woman had a boyfriend who belonged to a gang, and the boyfriend soon appeared with his buddies and became furious. In order to "teach my friend a lesson" they proceeded to throw him off the side of the road, and down the rocky expanse leading to the ocean some one hundred feet below. They left him for dead.

Some hours later a rescue crew arrived and made their way down the cliff and they were amazed to find that my friend was still alive. As they slowly hoisted him back up to the roadside, numerous bystanders remarked at how amazingly lucky he was to not have been killed. If my friend had not been unconscious at that time it is likely that he would have said something to the effect of "Lucky or unlucky is hard for me to say, but I can tell you that I hurt like hell!"

In a few days time when he had regained consciousness he discovered that he was paralyzed from the waist down. I called him to see how he was doing. He said to me "What would you say Charlie? Lucky to be alive or unlucky to be paralyzed from the waist down." I had no ready answer.

Many months later we met in person again. By this time he had already customized his wheelchair to make it more "radical" and he was sporting a buffed out physique from his many hours of weight lifting. He said to me "Previously when people remarked about my life, it was very easy for me to say that I felt neither lucky or unlucky. Now I know very deeply that each moment, lucky or unlucky, is to be savored. If I label my circumstances as 'lucky' what will this mean? Will it mean that I am happy about what has happened? If I label my circumstances as 'unlucky' what will this mean? Will it mean that I am unhappy about what has happened? And what about tomorrow, and the day after that, and the year after that? Will I let 'lucky' or 'unlucky' determine how I feel about myself and how I live my life? I certainly hope not!" He smiled warmly as always, and I was thankful to be in his presence.


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