Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Game

“Lucky fellow!” we holler, when we want to congratulate a guy who has landed a beautiful wife.

“You need to be lucky to get through that exam,” we say, in morbid self-doubt, when we haven’t performed as well as we should have in a competitive test. 

Whenever something goes wrong, attempting to camouflage our own short-comings, we cry out “Shucks! Rotten luck!” 

Luck is our one word explanation for all things good that happen to others, and all things bad that happen to us. 

My dad was a great believer in the concept of luck. Perhaps, it gave him the confidence to win. He believed his lucky number was 8, a number shunned by the uber-sensitive, luck-driven industry he did business in. At production releases, he always picked up stocks labelled 8, or adding up to 8, because no one clamoured for those anyway, and he could get away without having to put up with a long wait. As I write this, I wonder whether he truly believed in lucky number eight, or was just being crafty. 

I used to believe in luck as a kid. I had my own lucky color, lucky dress, and, most importantly, lucky pen. I also had an unlucky pen that I didn’t have the heart to throw away. I would use it for writing my name on entry forms in art competitions, which, given my artistic prowess, I had no hopes of winning even if Fortuna were to take control of my soul. And, in case you are wondering, I participated in them only because they were “away” competitions with half a day off from school. 

I still believe in luck. That is, I believe in the concept of an external entity helping me win. It could be a shirt or a suit or a pen or a piece of accessory. But, that belief seems to have waned over the years. I don’t feel the same charge of energy and confidence when walking into an important meeting in my luckiest shirt as I used to, walking into an examination carrying my luckiest pen.

Perhaps, this is what growing old means. We believe less and less in Utopia, the world of the magic wand, the skies with the flying carpets and the genie granting us wishes. We lean more towards rationale, logic, the inevitable end, and the moribund years of life. We wonder whether luck really exists, for, it is just plain, unadulterated chance that we are sitting here playing this game of life. We refuse to accept that the Universe might have conspired to do us a good turn.

We play at life like it is a game. We fight tooth and nail to live another day, if not literally, at least figuratively. Every time someone wins, we say they are lucky. And, we get a little more despondent, pondering over our ill-luck. Every time we win, we become even more despondent. For, our self-benchmark just went up. 

In the Game of Life, we just trudge on. If we win, we trudge on. If we lose, we trudge on. The trudging on is worse than death, for we are anticipating loss at every turn. 

For, we no longer trust that the Universe is looking out for us, that something worthwhile might come out of all this after all, by hook or by crook, or some luck from the nook.

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