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L-U-C-K and the Yellow Brick Road

Road through a grove of trees

Written by Ruth Luban

August 6, 2021

Back when I was in high school, working three jobs to save toward college, yet feeling pessimistic that I would ever have enough, a supportive adult friend introduced me to an elder from her family. She hoped his stories would distract me from my worries and somehow open the world to me.

He was a Santa Claus-looking character, kind of grizzled with white hair and beard, dressed like a backwoodsman — not a guy a 17-year-old coed would naturally sidle up to for inspiration. But he must have been warned by my friend that I was struggling, so he settled down on a park bench between her and me and asked me about myself, my hopes and dreams. I was struck by his deep blue eyes and his attentiveness to my story. I told him I was working as hard as I could, saving every penny I could earn, yet could not see how I would earn enough to pay my way. I said my only hope was a huge infusion of luck.

I’ll never forget his reply:  “You know what luck is, right? The letters are an acronym for Labor Under Controlled Knowledge. Just work in the direction of your current knowledge, and your path will show up.”

When I tell people the story of my life, I recount the “lucky” breaks that came my way — meeting the right people at the right time, being in the right place at the right time, following intuitive paths without knowing exactly why, and spelling out the “yellow brick road” that looks deliberate in retrospect. Yet it was basically l.u.c.k. and the lucky break of having met a guru along the way.

I love hearing other people’s stories and the fortuitous “luck” that came their way.

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