13 Jan 2010

The Luck Perception

Everyone's brain is different. Not different enough to massively distort the shape of our heads of course, but certainly enough to allow for the broad spectrum of unique qualities that we can easily use to hate each other without any need for creativity. Our likes and dislikes, knowledge and ignorance, dreams and phobias, keep us separate and unique. Where we are all united, however, is the existence of a small hollow space in the center of the brain that we are instinctively compelled to fill with unnecessary shit to worry about.

Life is great, or at least more interesting than the alternatives, but as the recent bout of cold weather has been exemplary in illustrating, we can’t find enough little things to keep us awake at night and moaning in the day.

On one hand, it's a good thing. It's certainly better for society to have a population worrying about train times and finding spiders in grapes rather than, for example, the horrifying possibilities posed by asteroids, super volcanoes, viruses, mega tsunamis and nuclear weapons which loom ever menacingly over humanity like a lonely ginger child above an anthill.

But it can also be a bad thing. The excellent way we are collectively and constantly deciding as a species that we're not really prepared to do very much in the face of global warming, for instance. There are people everywhere taking baths in their lorries and completely content because they believe we must have back-up planets. Unfortunately, for most people, the words ‘destroying the Earth,' for all the terrifying connotations of apocalypse that tiny phrase contains, is too large a concept to merit attention. Perhaps environmentalists should specify and contextualise the doom a bit more by explaining that the end of the world would also be the end of sausage rolls and Top Gear and that iPhone app that helps you navigate your way around London by leading you in to traffic like a pleb.

Personally, I find it hard to worry about many of our often trivial Western concerns, like arthritis and petrol prices and the internet cutting off; the general point being if you've survived whatever you're moaning about, you've won life's lottery. A bit of food and a roof chucked in too, and complaining about how difficult your existence is would be an offensive kick in the face to Zanabu, the terminally ill, blind, disabled boy from Poorland who's lifelong misfortune comes on top of being given a borderline-racist name and being completely made-up.

I’m an incredibly lucky person. And not only because I live a decadent, middle-class existence where I can easily access over two types of cheese, but because I believe I am lucky. Luck is relative, subjective, and, most importantly, defined by perception. If you believe you're lucky, you are, and if you believe you're not, you're not.

It’s literally your own fault so stop being such a horrid whinging bore about your 'problems.'

Let me explain.

To simplify this, we’ll apply my idea to two arbitrary characters, Person A and Person B. Actually, we’ll give them two arbitrary names, Frank and Razzer, to help follow the situation. Furthermore, again for clarity's sake, let's say that Frank is a dentist with no teeth and Razzer is a condom machine attendant who won the lottery several years ago but didn’t want the win ‘to change him.’ They sound pretty similar, right?


Frank is an optimist and Razzer is a pessimist.

Picture this. Frank finishes work, gives a cheery wave to his dental nurses and begins his walk home. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the same city, Razzer restocks his last pub toilet and does the same, although he slips in piss on the way out, which is just a feature of his life that he deals with. Frank and Razzer have never met, of course, although they have nearly passed each other several times on their daily commutes without realising. Today though, the Universe has conspired to have them cross the exact same road at the exact same time, and have them both consequently ploughed down by the exact same tram.

They both survive, however, because the Universe isn't all bad.

Inevitably, Frank goes home and gums to his wife Ethel about how lucky he is to be alive. She pauses knitting, stands to hug him and offers to cook his favourite meal, mash potato and soup, to celebrate. The two collapse laughing as that’s the only thing he can ever eat. “Oh, Ethel, you bloody ironic japester,” he says, “get in that kitchen!” They’re happy.

Meanwhile over in pessimism land, Razzer goes home to his mansion after the same incident, grumbling and moaning, and tells his wife Pazzy how unlucky he is to have been in an accident. "All this wealth is a nightmare, I'm still getting hit by large, railed metal transport," he grumbles. She’s not listening though because she’s making horrible love to the Butler and using Razzer’s highly-prized collector’s condoms to do it. Irrelevant: they’re unhappy.

The point is, Frank is lucky because he defines himself so. You smash a tram into him, he goes home smiling because he's alive. You take his teeth, he thanks you for his gums. By the reverse side of the same token, Razzer is ‘unlucky.’ Despite his obvious fortune, both financial and dental, he returns home to his crumbling life, unsure of why money hasn’t bought him happiness, and complains that he got hit by a tram and lost a mere leg.

Rather than thank a fictitious deity or look on the bright side of the situation, he takes out the shotgun, pumps one bullet in to Mrs. Pazzy Razzer, then aims the last one at his own brain. He stares at the naked, terrified, blood-splattered butler. "Clean this up." BANG.

Exactly. So cheer the fuck up.