Thursday, October 6, 2011

Life and Luck

Steve Jobs died yesterday. So did civil rights leader Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth (link). I have to confess, I didn't know Steve Jobs was sick (again), and I'd never even heard of Rev. Shuttlesworth.

And I call myself a southern reporter.

Yesterday morning I went for a walk with a new friend and neighbor who has a big dog. She needed to exercise him, and the weather's been gorgeous lately. So we headed to the nearby university to stroll around.

I told her about catching leaves.

Catching leaves is a game I discussed in this post (link). My old "boss" Susan, who was Jewish-Irish-British-living in south Louisiana, taught it to me.

Basically, if you catch a leaf as it's falling to the ground (from the tree), it's good luck. But don't throw your leaf away, or you lose your luck!

My friend asked me how long the luck lasted. I hadn't asked Susan that question, so my answer was I guessed as long as you kept your leaf.

Luck is delicious.
Flower likes to eat my leaves when I get home and leave them out on the counter.

I also interviewed and wrote a feature about Billy J. Brown II yesterday for the Baldwin Register. Yep, I'm still writing for those guys.

Brown was trapped in the backseat of a burning car when he was only two years old and suffered third-degree burns on 65 percent of his body.

His face was disfigured and he lost a hand. He went on to become a married, father of two, and as a businessman, he did one of those Tony Robbins motivational events where everybody walked on hot coals.

A burn victim walking on fire.

After meeting Robbins, he said he realized he could affect people for good with his story. So he wrote and self-published a book Rising from the Ashes (link), and his message is this: Your past doesn't equal your future. Find your ultimate goal, your vision, and pursue it because that's what'll get you through the hard times.

I'm thinking all of these things are related somehow. Here's what I got: First, it's fun to play games and to believe you're lucky if you catch a leaf. But the truth is, luck = preparedness + opportunity.

Steve Jobs was a brilliant creative thinker whose ultimate goal was changing the way we handle information.

Shuttlesworth had a vision of a Birmingham (Ala.) where little black girls didn't get bombed to death on their way to Sunday school.

Maybe we all don't get such world-changing goals as Jobs and Shuttlesworth, but maybe we do. Brown said he often wondered as a teenager why God even kept him alive.

His ultimate goal now is helping teenagers and college students see their worth and find their vision. He described parents who drop off their kids and never even get off their cell phones to tell them goodbye.

I bet Brown makes a difference.

I think that's how you make your life lucky. Or something. What do you think?

Either way, do try to catch a leaf--it's fun! Just make sure you're on a flat, open surface. Otherwise you'll be lucky not to get hurt running around while looking up in the sky.

Have a great weekend, reader- and writer-friends. Til Monday~ <3


Jessica Bell said...

I guess it is true that we all make our own luck. It really is just a frame of mind. I really believe that. I need this post today. Thank you!

J.L. Campbell said...

It's reading about things like this that makes me wonder about the space I'm occupying in this life and what I'm doing in it.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm amazed what people can recover from and then become stronger.

Steve Jobs stepped down so recently, I figured it was from cancer. He lived long for someone with his type of cancer. Jobs didn't give himself much time to stop working before his death. He was driven.

Laurel Garver said...

What Brown said about following a vision really resonates with me. It reminds me of that proverb "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

Janet Johnson said...

Yeah, my husband told me about Steve Jobs. He was brilliant. I didn't know Shuttlesworth, either, but he sounds like a good man.

And 100% agree on your definition of luck. But that won't stop me from playing games like yours. :)

Tracy Jo said...

I love this. We are on the same wavelength! These people are so inspiring & provide me clarity. Life is so short....we must catch our leaves!

P.S. I am so going out to play that game this afternoon. Can't wait.

Michelle Fayard said...

I am consoling myself with an image of Rev. Shuttlesworth leaf catching in his new dimension ...

Old Kitty said...

Awwww! Off I go to catch my own leaf and by golly I'm hanging on to it!! Yay! Take care

M Pax said...

Brown sounds like one of those souls who I admire greatly. Waht a beautiful gift he's giving to the community.

I think some luck comes into play, but we have to be prepared and work hard for the day it does. But maybe, like Mick Jagger says, you don't always get what you want, but maybe we get something just as great. If we care to really look. OK, yeah, I embellished the last part. He didn't sing that at all. lol

Portia said...

I love the leaf game!

The Brown story must have been a hard one to write. Burn victim survivors are such amazing people—and to be burned as a two year old ... heartbreaking!

DEZMOND said...

I'm going out to catch me some leaves :) hope birds won't throw anything surprising on me in the process :)

Precy Larkins said...

A beautiful post, Leigh!

Thank you. <3

Stina said...

I'm off to catch me a leaf before they're all fall off the trees. Then I'll have to find something else. Is catching snowflakes lucky?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Leigh .. lovely uplifting post about two extraordinary men .. it's fun catching leaves with kids running around and usually a dog in between - ensuring an extra gust blows them away. However when I catch one .. I shall keep it - as I don't have a Flower - she's might pritty! .. Enjoy the weekend .. Hilary

Laura Pauling said...

Amazing story. I love stories of people who use the tragedy in their life to help others. So moving.

LTM said...

@cherie--thanks, hon~ :o)

@Laura--it's true. Now catch a leaf~ ;p <3

Hart Johnson said...

I totally agree--you make a lot of your own luck. I think sometimes it really is just luck, but USUALLY, you can only play on it when you've set some things in line and so you can jump when that lucky moment happens.

And I think it sounds like Billy Brown is making a huge difference.

Angela said...

Till Monday . . . Leigh, you always have such insight. I love how you tie catching leaves with making a difference in the world. Brilliant.

Unknown said...

Personally I don't believe in luck per se, but wisdom and kindness go a long way to making a successful and meaningful life. We're more ready to handle whatever comes our way.

Jennie Bailey said...

"Luck is delicious" - that made me laugh out loud!

Mr. Brown is very inspirational. What an incredible person to have gone through all of that and then decided to use his life and experiences to help others, especially teens who really need an influence like that in their lives.

Off to try to catch a leaf on my morning walk with Lily!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Yeah - uh - catching leaves would probably result in me lying in a heap. Besides, I have at least a month before the leaves here turn. Maybe I'll find some coordination by then. ;)

Talli Roland said...

YES! Luck always plays a part, but we have to help luck find us by not giving up.

I *love* that photo of Flower. I remember it from your last post about Flower!

Anita Grace Howard said...

What a lovely and inspiring post!

Luck isn't so much a force as a frame of mind. And what wonderful examples of inspiring and properous people, each finding their "luck" their own way and in their own time.

I love your posts, always!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

this is a lovely post. Just fantastic. Life really is what you make of it and the only "luck" I've ever witnessed, is the kind we've made on our own. Have an awesome holiday weekend!

LTM said...

@Anita G--thanks, girl! :o) <3

@Lindsay--you have a great weekend, too! And yep, hard work. Part of the formula~ :o) <3

Los Angeles SEO said...

"luck = preparedness + opportunity." I have heard this equation many times, and still it makes me stop and think. I love how it is a reminder that we are responsible to work for our future.