Lucky is a word used to emphasize many modes of our lives. One can work twenty years on a project from before light until after dark each day, finally after many false hopes and failures, when they might finally come up with a wonderful reward for their labors, people will say, “Boy aren’t they lucky?”
When I was quite young I was playing on a straw stack and digging holes all the way through it, making chambers-like little rooms inside of it, really important things that you do when a kid. Since it didn’t cave in on me, I was truly “lucky” that it didn’t. I saw my father coming in from the fields driving a team of matched horses that he farmed with at the time. When he got within earshot, I had crawled on top of the straw stack, which was about fifteen feet high, and hollered, “Watch Dad!” I then launched myself off into the air on the side of the stack towards him. Now to put this story in perspective, we then lived in an area where there were many lava outcrops and to save the better land for crops, Dad stacked his hay and the straw on these rocky knobs. What I didn’t know at the time was that he had been hauling straw from that stack all morning for stock bedding. I hit the lava rock with the force of a skydiver whose chute didn’t open. Now have you ever been numb with pain and unable to breath, talk or even cry? This was what I was feeling and Dad was telling me I was lucky he hadn’t hauled more of the straw away. Somehow I felt I would have been a lot “luckier” if he hadn’t hauled any of it away, or even more “lucky” if I had been smart enough not to jump in the first place.
Once while playing football in grade school, I was running with the football trying to escape the ones in my class who were bigger than I was at the time, which meant everyone in the class, including the girls. I inadvertently ran in front of a girl who was in the process of swinging a large bat at a softball that was being pitched to her. She swung on the ball a little too soon and hit me in the back of the head with the bat. Now the result of this was to drive my face into the ball with such a force that I almost swallowed the softball. As I was coming to, the teacher and rest of the children were saying, “Boy, you were lucky.” Now somehow I felt a hell of a lot more numb than I did lucky. Besides that, I truly had a splitting headache that ran from the back of my head to the front of what had to pass for a face.
I have observed many times in many different parts of my life, when I did something that blew up in my face, (I can assure you that I have done many such things,) I was either called a dummy or stupid, but when one of my experiments went well and something worthwhile came from it, people would say, “Boy you are lucky.”
Another time while driving cattle in from the range, which also doubled for a mountain goat breeding ground, I had a horse fall and roll down the hill with me. She mashed me down into a large sagebrush that had been over-grazed for many years. The result was that the sagebrush removed me from the saddle and left me with so much of myself on all sides of the sage; it took me several minutes to find which side to crawl out. The horse continued to roll into the canyon and though I was not seriously hurt, my gear was destroyed, the horse was hurt badly enough that I didn’t feel that I should ride it. It was a several mile walk to a road and being in a condition where I was shaped a lot like a Dungeness crab, it really slowed the process. I didn’t realize until later that crabs travel sideways so I hadn’t thought of trying that. Another rider who was there at the time immediately informed me how “lucky” I was. In fact he dwelled on it as he rode beside me on an uninjured horse. I will give him this though, when we finally got to a road, he told me to sit there and he would go get a rig and return for me. So there I was, sitting beside the road in pain, reflecting on just how “lucky” I was.
Let someone be driving down a freeway somewhere and someone comes in from a side road and hit them in the rear portion of their vehicle, send it spinning across three lanes of freeway panic and ricochet off the median guard and then came flying across the same three lanes into the barrow pit. The rig is now a total mess inside and out, (for more than one reason) and the first thing you will hear from the first person that shows up, “Boy you were lucky.” Lucky? Hell, that wasn’t what you are feeling right then. True, you might have survived with no more problems to your physical being that a good shower and clean set of underwear might correct, but I can assure you that you sure don’t feel lucky as you stand beside the vehicle that you waited all your life to afford, and you are looking at the tattered remains of it.
Just do something that is life threatening and several people will show up and tell you all of the horrible things that could have happened to you, and just how “lucky” you are that it didn’t. Don’t people realize all of the things that might not have happened which resulted in the problem, to me that would truly be luck. House burned down, lost all your life savings, the wife and kids, boy, you were “lucky” the dog’s barking woke you up and you fell out the window. What kind of luck would that be?
I myself have always lived on the edge, if something was happening; it was me there making it happen. I had some really scary things happen and a most of it was self-induced. Once while shooting coyotes from an airplane, I found myself with true luck. We had the door off the aircraft and I was sitting in the doorway with my feet propped on one of the tires of the aircraft. This put me where I could shoot without removing vital parts of the aircraft needed to keep it airborne. Like a well known TV star, I would only put one round in the shotgun at a time to prevent problems also.
I had just knocked a large coyote down and we were in a sharp bank headed back to the area so we could pinpoint the spot for a return on foot. I found myself facing straight down with just the centrifugal force of the bank holding me in place. I looked down at my lap and found the safety belt had come undone and was now flapping in the slip stream of the prop wash. I dropped the gun, which unlike me, was tied to the plane. I frantically grabbed both sides of the door frame to keep myself from falling out. Now, that was “luck” that I didn’t fall out and that I hadn’t reloaded the shotgun.
In conclusion, I can assure you that many times I have had so much good luck that I barely survived. I had times when my life flashed before my eyes and I knew I was going to die, and I also had times that I didn’t have enough time for it to flash before my eyes. I have had ribs broken, been kicked by horses and cows, bit by geese, stung nearly to death by a swarm of killer bees that found their way to this country fifty years ago. I have had my thumbs mashed, one of them completely off, it was put back on by one of the local doctors and the graft took. I have been in car wrecks, attacked by bear and mountain lion (provoked attacks). I have had to outrun America’s most ferocious predator, the common badger. I have been sprayed point blank in the face by skunks, fallen off roofs, been bitten by dogs, been spurred in the head by lovesick roosters, and chased by a rabid cow. I have had my back broken in two places and five vertebrae damaged, legs broken and teeth filled and pulled. Wore braces on my teeth and have suffered through mumps five times. Had every childhood disease possible, several major surgeries, TMJ, and shingles. Had boats sink with me and fell into flood swollen rivers, been attacked by vicious housewives, (not my own) and attacked in barroom encounters. I guess you might say I’m just naturally the “luckiest” guy in the world.