Poetry Month Challenges Day 14: Luck and Loss

Loss in Luck by Maria L. Berg 2023

Luck & Loss

Luck is a force that “seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life.” It is good fortune; advantage or success, and considered as the result of chance. Fortune is chance personified, and “luck is a lady”. Chance is the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency. Luck is something we blame for unforeseen events in our lives good and bad. It is external, and yet we often hear people say, “make your own luck,” which by all these definitions is an oxymoron (an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory figure of speech).

Loss is the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had. There is a lot of failure in the definition of loss: failure to win; failure to make good use of something; failure to preserve or maintain; detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have or get. Unlike luck, loss appears to have an internal component, and thus something that can be done about it.

Fortune favors the prepared mind.

Louis Pasteur

In an article from PBS news hour, Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at University of Hertfordshire said that luck is determined by psychological behaviors and perception.

Wiseman focused on the personal attribute definition, saying that people who believe lucky things happen to them tended to fare better than people who felt unlucky.

“The lucky people knew how to bounce back. The unlucky ones tended to get dragged down by that failure,” he said.

“[Luck] manifests itself in a different way in different societies. But what’s underpinning that is that we like to be in control.”

While “lucky people are always in the right place at the right time,” unlucky people can’t catch a break.

“I think a big part of that, not all of it, but a big part of it is the way in which they’re thinking and where they’re behaving,” Wiseman said.

Continuing my study of Sadler’s The Mind at Mischief, I found that he connects loss to the sentiment of jealousy:

We are exercised by jealousy when the one we love gives to another that affection which we think belongs to us. We come to feel an emotion of ownership in our friends and loved ones, and the loss of their devotion wounds our pride and self-esteem. When one’s self-regarding sentiment has been severely wounded, there is likelihood of arousing the vengeful emotion associated with resentment and anger.

The green-eyed monster is ever the foe of happiness. If we permit jealousy to dominate the soul, joy is certain to depart. There is a sordid selfishness associated with this sentiment that precludes a tranquil state of mind.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

Later, while talking about the origins of an Inadequacy Complex, he connects fortune and loss:

No matter what it is, whether it be goiter, pimples or some other skin disorder, irregular teeth, an obese tendency or a tendency to emaciation— any simple physical condition may prove to be the starting point of this self-consciousness about being different from the average run of humanity. One of the most unfortunate cases of this kind I ever saw started from having to wear glasses—on account of eye trouble following measles—when the boy was only eight years old. It so happened that no other boy or girl in his room at school wore glasses, and the teasing that resulted all but ruined his life. Speech defects are still more commonly the starting point of this feeling of relative insufficiency. Stuttering or stammering, if not brought under control, is a very common cause of the early loss of self-confidence.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

In this case, he’s talking about genetic bad luck leading to teasing, but it gets to the heart of what luck is; it’s everything that is out of human control, and it can lead to perceived loss, or physical loss.

Today’s Images

To find the loss in luck and the luck in loss, I used the luck of a sunny day on the loss of a patch of lawn due to pink snow fungus. I used the luck of the toss to position my mirror balls and sticker cubes, and the loss of control by not looking in the camera, and using the panoramic function to capture the images. Inspired by Wiseman’s thoughts about the psychology of luck, I used my neuron filter, and my psychology made some interesting associations when using my pyramid transformer filters with my colored-stripe plastic filter.

Luck in Loss by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts

NaPoWriMo

Today’s prompt is “write a parody or satire based on a famous poem. It can be long or short, rhymed or not. But take a favorite (or unfavorite) poem of the past, and see if you can’t re-write it on humorous, mocking, or sharp-witted lines.”

I looked for famous poems about luck and loss and found “The Wishing-Caps” by Rudyard Kipling. I also read the lyrics to “Luck be a Lady” and thought about what the male equivalent Luck and personification of Fortune might be.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is “And now for something completely different.”

The Poem

Luck be a Gentleman

~after Rudyard Kipling

I recently took a tumble
with only my actions to blame.

But it felt like a sudden push
from a cruel, sneering Fortune’s hand.

And was death coming to join him?
Were they striking up the band?

If Fortune’s always lurking
to blow wind up my skirt
then luck is definitely a man
and a totally thoughtless jerk.

If I don’t tune-in for Fortune,
Fortune is streaming anyway.

Bad luck is never a gentleman
but a wrestler turned actor out of ring
all muscles, and gravely voice, and side-glance
pretending to be bitter-sweet.

Laugh at him once, not a weakness
the writer did a good job
but watch it again, or tell a friend
It’s a crime!
Turn away! Turn it off!

Oh huge, bulky Fortune!
Why don’t you fight anymore?
If you had not leapt from the mat
to my screen, I’m sure life
would not be a bore.

Good luck is never a gentleman
but the sloppiest villain in the ring
face-painted, demonic, and phony
Shameless cheater and cheat.

Lose him—he’s following a stranger
Find him—he’s on his back at the count of nine

Ignore him completely and then he gets sneaky
and the big man gets a super-hero flick
Oh huge, bulky Fortune!
I can’t afford or avoid him.

If I don’t wrestle Fortune,
then he must wrestle me.


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