The other day I got into a debate with someone who believes that rich people are smarter than poor people, which is a myth rich people would like to propagate much as I would like to spread the news that writers are all frickin’ geniuses. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, the argument goes something like…”you don’t get to be a billionaire if you’re an idiot.”
My boyfriend explained that rich people have to believe they deserve their wealth or poor people wouldn’t deserve poverty. In order to deserve something we need to earn it, so they convince themselves they earned it—even if their wealth was handed to them or stolen from the poor.
Mind boggling, right? I have a boyfriend, which brings me to my point; it’s all about luck. Say you’re in the .0001% wealthwise. Chances are you were born in the United States or a palace. You can’t really argue there was any shrewd business calculus on your part. Likewise, five decades in I found my bookend, the one who makes me happy, my soul mate. Believe me, I have tried everything known to humankind to ferret out Mr. Right including dating (and occasionally marrying) every Mr. Wrong I could get my hands on including a man in California whom a mutual friend dubbed “the most inappropriate man in L.A.” (I can only assume Mary Knox-Sitley meant L.A. proper with its population of 4,000,000 and not Los Angeles County, which would have made the odds 1 in 13,000,000 that I’d snared the most unsuitable mate in the world’s fifth largest economy. I mean, come on!)
After years of dates with Satan, men with eating disorders, mother issues, addictions, predilections, poor taste in music and hairy wens, the man who takes my breath away landed right in my lap. I hadn’t set out to find him. I wasn’t smart about it and I am not the most deserving by a long shot. I did pretty well on my own, truth be told. I liked the quiet. So what gives? Luck, my friends. Pure luck.
In fairness there were some really cool guys along the way, but for whatever reason either the timing was bad: “Will you wait for me until, a) I get out of the joint, b) my divorce is final, c) the drugs kick in?” or there was no chemistry. I wouldn’t say I gave up as much as I deferred the love search for some future time when I’d be even more aged and there’d be even fewer men from which to choose. And then it happened.
Two people in the same place at the same time—literally and figuratively. It was July 4, so the fireworks were more than a cheesy metaphor. He was funny, engaging, and really smart and I noticed him watching me when he didn’t think I was looking. Maybe these sound like normal things to you, but for me…I’m kind of a bull in a china shop when it comes to dating so trust me when I say it was pure luck that I was paying attention on this occasion. The chemistry was palpable; right beneath it, like a strong current in black water, luck was pulling me under.
There is a question I ponder every day: are there things we can do to increase luck?—the basic premise of Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale. I’m still in research mode so I do not have a definitive answer, but I have discovered a few strategies along the way.
1. Eyes open.
My grandma used to say you won’t find a penny on the floor if a bird poops on your face. I’m sure it was more lyrical in her native Czech, but what I think she was trying to tell me was that you need to be on the lookout for real treasure, not pie-in-the-sky dreams. What if luck was right there under your nose, for example, but you were too busy obsessing about having eaten a 2lb. Toblerone bar for lunch? (I’m sure in Czech that would also sound prettier, less gluttonesque.)
Put down your phone, book or chocolate bar and look around. Listen. Watch. Worst case scenario you will see some beautiful stuff and you might just find a lucky penny on the floor. On any given day it is also possible that sitting right next to you, inches away, is someone who could take your breath away (in a good way, not as in strangulation as a form of sex play, which leads me to #2).
2. Be specific.
If there is anything I’ve learned it is to be specific. My friend Ashami pointed this out in the wee hours after a big party at my house. As “Barry” skulked down the driveway with a lumpy pillowcase that looked like it might contain candlesticks and a Blu-Ray player, Ashami sipped her wine and said, “You really need to be more specific when you say you want a man.”
It’s not like I recently said ‘please bring me an incredibly sexy artist with a big brain, beautiful hands and a tender heart,” but when I did put it out there that I was open to at least chatting with Mr. Right, I asked the universe and goddesses to stop lobbing Barrys at me. That sort of specificity is the key to the whole operation.
3. Raise your standards.
In the search for a mate, whether we have been accused of being too picky or we have single girlfriends who’ve been labeled such, the reality is that we are not nearly picky enough. Traits and vices that we would never tolerate in a million years from a friend or even a family member somehow become “quirky” or “eccentric” in the host body of a man with a job and a perfunctory knowledge of the English language.
Conventional dating wisdom tells us that we will broaden our horizons if we lower our standards. It may be a mathematical equation, but it’s horseshit. There is nothing lonelier than being with the wrong person even if it is for the right reasons. Seriously. We have one life.
4. Be yourself.
I wasted a lot of time trying to be a version of myself that I thought men would find alluring. The mishaps were legion. I ended up attracting men who were so uninteresting to me that I’d have to sabotage things just to make a clean getaway, and what the hell kind of crap is that when I could have just stayed home and read?
I am not easy. I’m not a bargain. But at this point in my life what you see is what you get. Jeez, I wish I’d have been her years ago, because luck—that indefinable thing that carries to us treasure on a silver platter—only happens when we are our authentic selves, otherwise the universe and goddesses get confused and they send George Clooney to that Amal woman, who judging from everything I have seen has had her share, and more, of all the luck on earth.
Mates of any description do not complete us. Perhaps the thing about luck—really good luck—is that we are the prize, and they are the lucky ones.