“Clubs going up… on a Sunday!” We all laughed and cheered and clinked our rosé-filled copper mugs. Amber was smiling, Colleen was smiling, the man from Turkey who sold blankets was smiling, the jewelry-maker from Los Angeles was smiling, and, of course, I was smiling.
Life is good was all I could think as I sat around with this motley crew in the suite of the Roger Smith Hotel. We sipped from our mugs and set them down on the large glass table in the center of what looked like a rich grandmother’s living room. Colleen had put together a luscious spread of appetizers for this intimate gathering. Candles were flickering atop ornate golden fixtures as exotic Indian music played.
I took a deep breath, feeling the luxury of the present moment, and savored this snapshot, a single scene in an endlessly changing journey. I felt very Jack Dawson-esque.
I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people.
All of the attendees of our mini dinner party were in town for a trade show at the Javits Convention Center to display their unique goods. Colleen was bringing to New York a large sample of the eclectic clothes and home furnishings sold at her upscale boutique in San Francisco; she’d been to more than thirty countries just this year alone, finding the rarest and most beautiful pieces from designers around the globe. Amber, one of Colleen’s sales associates and her surrogate daughter, was there to assist.
The woman from Los Angeles, named Joanne, owned a jewelry shop in Venice where she sold her original, offbeat creations. Tonight she was serving us Earth Mother realness in a dark Bohemian-style dress, her long gray hair running wild. The sweet Turkish fellow, Altan, sold handmade blankets that Amber liked to use as bath towels. Atlan didn’t say much throughout the evening. He just sat, smiling and eating olives. He was quick to re-fill our cups, perhaps to make up for his lack of English.
The conversation began with introductions all around, exchanging basic pleasantries and background information. Soon enough, we were all adequately comfortable in one another’s company and enjoyed barrels of laughter and light- hearted mirth. As our alcohol intake increased, our chatter entered new dimensions.
“What a funny little group,” Amber said, looking around the room.
“I love this,” said Colleen.
“This was so meant to be! Like energy attracts like energy,” I said with a giggle.
“Totally.” Amber said. “We all have good vibes. We all have the same mindset.”
“Yes!” I said, “It’s not a coincidence that we’re all here tonight together. Everything happens for a reason.”
“It’s serendipity!” said Amber.
“Fate!” said Colleen.
“Nonsense,” said Joanne.
“You really think that everything happens for a reason?” she asked. “That’s total bull. Life is random and unpredictable and shit just happens.”
Everyone was quiet for a moment as Amber, Colleen, and I looked at each other. Altan looked down at his plate of olives.
“When I was younger,” Joanne continued, “I used to be like you kids. I was so into positive thinking and the law of attraction and creating my destiny. But guess what? You can’t. I always wanted to have kids, and I’ve never been able to. Was that meant to be? What am I supposed to say when a stranger shows me their newborn? ‘I’m so happy for you and your good karma.’ No! I want to say, ‘Screw you!’ Don’t tell me everything happens for a reason. It doesn’t matter how badly I wanted kids, or how much I willed myself to get pregnant. It was a biological impossibility.”
Womp womp. I took a sip of rosé. Way to bring down the house, Eeyore.
Colleen was more sympathetic.
“I understand where you’re coming from,” she said. “I was more like Amber and Stephen, too, so optimistic and all. But your opinion can change easily as you get older. I always thought I would have kids, and yet, here I am at fifty and I don’t. There’s been a lot of sadness that’s come my way in life, but I’m still positive and hopeful. I haven’t been dealt the best cards, but I’ve made the most of what I’ve been given and I’ve created a great life for myself.”
“Exactly,” said Joanne.”You created it for yourself. It wasn’t given to you, through divine intervention or the universe. You weren’t blessed. You weren’t lucky. You earned it. Through your own hard work, you created your own luck.”
I grabbed my iPhone and created a new note, typing the words that struck a chord: You create your own luck. I’d never thought of it in precisely those terms before, yet I liked the sound of it. I knew it to be true.
I recalled a study I read once which found that those who simply believed themselves to be inherently lucky were more optimistic, and actually had more good fortune. Or maybe they were more likely to report more good fortune,because that’s what they focused on. But it’s the same thing. Those who believe life is inherently good will experience life as such. Your subconscious, through confirmation bias, seeks out evidence that supports your worldview. This isn’t metaphysics, it’s psychology.
You create your own luck through the sheer belief that you are lucky. Dogged determination and perseverance works, too, but it doesn’t have to be such a fight. Faith can alleviate the load so you don’t have to go at it alone. I put down my phone and tuned back into the moment. Colleen was speaking.
“You’re right, I did create my own luck. But, I did it alongside the laws of the universe. I didn’t do it all alone. I have faith that what happened to me was supposed to happen to me. It wasn’t all roses, but it’s what was always meant to be.”
“I agree, I think that it’s both, that you’re both kind of right” Amber said. “I think that your higher self knows what’s best for you. Even if the small you, the ego, wants to have a certain outcome, your higher self knows better. So when it looks like things aren’t going your way, maybe they just aren’t going the way your small self thinks it should go. But it ultimately does happen for a reason, it’s just hard to see.”
“Look at the life I’ve had despite everything,” Colleen continued. “I have so much fun! I travel to a different country every month, I have friends all over the world. Of course I earned it, but I do feel blessed.
“But I reject that premise of ‘blessed’, Joanne interjected. “I don’t think the Universe is for us. Life is hard, man. It’s a slog. It’s us against them, and you’ve got to fight for what you want.”
“But that’s just your mindset,” said Amber.
“The universe isn’t for or against us,” said Colleen. ‘The universe isn’t separate. We are apart of it!”
“Either way you look at it, you can be right,” I said. “None of this is a fact, it’s just an opinion. But why wouldn’t you choose to believe in God or a higher power if it’s going to make you happier? I just have had so many things happen to me that I don’t have any doubt. Life is good. Everything happens as it’s supposed to.”
“Okay, well you go to Haiti and tell that to the children there,” Joanne said.
“Why don’t we listen to some flamenco music?” said Colleen, recognizing the futility in progressing the argument. “I got this terrific record when I was in Spain in April.”
The conversation moved on and didn’t look back. At around 10PM, Colleen asked if anybody wanted to go to the Plaza for a drink. Joanne and Altan turned her down, citing an early morning at the showroom the next day. Colleen had to be up at 6 A.M., too, but that wasn’t about to stop her for making the most of a New York City weekend. We hugged them and said goodbye, leaving us three musketeers to cause havoc on our own.
We went out on the balcony, where a full moon was shining down on us. Then we took a shot of tequila and dug into dinner party recap.
“I just want to change Joanne’s mind!” I said. “She seems so defeated and negative.”
“I get it that she thinks that everything sucks that’s happened to her. But she’s trapped in her mental conditioning.” said Amber.
“It’s crazy that we’re the same age”‘ Colleen said, “Joanne just thinks she has fewer possibilities now that she’s older, but I still believe in infinite possibilities. I can do whatever I want to do! And I couldn’t do that if I’d had kids. It’s not on my time.”
“Yes!” I said. “It’s like that Oprah quote: ‘God can dream a bigger dream for you than you could ever dream for yourself.’
“Look at everything you’ve accomplished. Your life is perfect. I mean, there have been plenty of unfortunate events that have happened to you, but you’re so successful and happy and free and fulfilled. I think that’s a perfect life.”
“Yeah.” said Amber. “It’s not perfect, but it is perfect.”
“We just create our lives how we want it to be,” said Colleen.
“In conjunction with God’s plan for us,” I said.
“Our higher selves know what’s best,” said Amber.
“It’s a beautiful dance,” said Colleen.
We started giggling, so full of ourselves and into each other, satisfied to the point of smug with our own positive mental outlook, yet deeply grateful, and hopeful for the rest of life that lay ahead.
“Let’s have one more shot and go out, shall we?” Colleen offered, not waiting for our answer before pouring the final round of Patron.
We all laughed and cheered and clinked our tequila-filled copper mugs. Amber was smiling, Colleen was smiling, and I was smiling.
Life is good was all I could think.