Just days ago, at about the exact time Australia welcomed its 25th million citizen, a new baby was born into our tribe – another strong, beautiful granddaughter for us. And as I hold this brand new bundle, only hours in this world, I ponder the notions of luck and gratitude.
I’m not going to tell you that this is the most beautiful child ever born to mankind, though of course we think she’s right up there, but I will tell that already this child is incredibly fortunate and in many ways already way ahead of the pack.
She is undoubtedly incredibly lucky.
Sometimes I’m a bit sensitive to comments about luck. It’s easy to dismiss someone’s hard work or even lifelong efforts as being due to this luck, this notion of random fortune that falls out of the sky to clonk you on the head.
– You’re so lucky to have a nice house.
– You’re so lucky to be able to retire early.
– You’re so lucky you get on well with your family.
As if these things land in laps with no thought or effort involved on the part of the recipient. The reality is there’s often a large difference between luck and making our own successes in this world.
But there are indeed many things that just come down to the cards we’re dealt with. Just pure bloody luck.
Take this little babe, for instance. Already, she’s experienced great fortune that many will never have.
First up, she’s lucky to have been born in Australia, this big, bold, beautiful country where we have a democratic government (shortcomings and short-sightedness notwithstanding), and a way of living that provides education, health care, freedom of speech and opportunity for the vast majority. Many other countries have that too, of course, but millions are born into places where abject poverty, perpetual violence or warfare is the norm, and where medicine, education and even food are not available. For millions, even progressing beyond birth or childhood is a challenge. Many don’t make it.
She’s lucky to have been born in an era when medicine and technology allow us control or at least provide ammunition against illnesses, and where we have the longest longevities ever experienced, where women are valued more highly than they have been in the past and have a world of opportunity before them, and when we have more peace in our world than we’ve had previously, though it often doesn’t feel like it.
She’s lucky to have been born into a caring and competent family, who can provide for her, who value education and who will encourage creativity, teach her resilience, and who don’t have to struggle with addiction, mental or other illness.
I’m reminded that as I hold my granddaughter, I’m lucky too. There are friends who are no longer here to meet their grandkids, those who never got to have kids when they would have liked to, or those who lost children or grandchildren along the way in one way or another.
I wonder what this tiny girl might become and what lies ahead for her in life. How much luck will she encounter and how much luck she will make for herself?
Whatever the future, she’s already off to a rollicking good start.
It is the best of times.