John Andrist: Good Luck Is Something To Celebrate


I celebrated my birthday Saturday. Number 84. Actually, celebrate is a bit of an over statement.

The best part of my celebration came in the early morning hours of a decent night’s sleep, pondering how lucky I am.

Luck? Let me count the ways.

For starters, I won the lottery against odds of 25,000 to 1, when I was born. You see only one out of each 25,000 born on this planet is lucky enough to be born in the U.S.

Most of us don’t think much about that, amid our day to day complaining about our state of affairs. But wow!. Is there any other lottery you would trade for that?

I never in my life questioned whether or not my parents loved me. The odds are a little better for that, but what a winner that is.

And there’s more. I was enormously lucky in love. As a somewhat brassy boy I was girl crazy. As a high school freshman my eyes were attracted to that red haired girl from the country, and I can’t remember ever wanting any other.

Reflecting on our lives 57 years and five children after our marriage, how lucky is it for a family to spend their entire collective lives without experiencing any alcohol or other drug addiction? Call it a blessing or call it luck. I think it’s both.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]One critic once told me he hoped when I die it doesn’t happen quickly, that I deserved a long, suffering death. I would have done almost anything to make him feel more happy.[/mks_pullquote]

Not a single incident of spending a night in jail for any family member, not a single involvement in physical altercation, nor suffering alcohol or drug addiction.

My wife probably wasn’t perfect, but in my mind she was as close as anyone could get. My kids weren’t without blemish. But my, how much they have enriched my life.

What life goals I have achieved, if any, are dwarfed by all those who have enabled me. You may be one of them. Just about every good thing in life comes at least partially from the support and assistance of others. God has given me so many enablers. That’s just darn good luck.

My health is not perfect. I’m slowed by a stroke and a congenital heart defect. My stamina is gone,  along with my bad balance. And yet I’m here, despite those limitations. I wish my three brothers could have been so lucky.

I was feeling rotten after breakfast this morning. Usually do. It’s my hardest time of the day. But groping for energy I watched a man at the next table, being led back to his room. I guess I’m lucky I don’t need help finding mine.

Best of all I’m grateful for my gift of love. How wonderful it is to have that feeling in your heart that everyone you know is somebody you cherish.

Luke 6:27-38 contains the admonition of Jesus to love everyone, even our enemies. Without meaning to sound boastful I think I do — even those who haven’t been very likeable. After all, there are a lot of reasons not to like me.

One critic once told me he hoped when I die it doesn’t happen quickly, that I deserved a long, suffering death.

I would have done almost anything to make him feel more happy. You can’t wish that kind of thing unless you are hurting, and I dread the feeling a may by adding to anyone’s pain.

I’m decrepit and miserable much of the time, but luckier than I have ever deserved to be. In some small way, perhaps in some large way, you are likely a part of what makes me so lucky.

I was telling this to my daughter, and she said I’m not lucky, I’m blessed. Okay, I’m lucky to be blessed.

Life is still about feeling whether your glass is half full or half empty. Or maybe it’s three quarters.

Happy birthday to me! And thanks for being a friend and reader of my column.