I was at the doctor’s yesterday getting a blood test. I’m anaemic and need to be tested every three months as occasionally my iron levels plummet and I become constantly light-headed and so fatigued I can barely get out of bed. As usual, even though I had an appointment, the surgery was crowded and the doctor was running behind schedule.
I settled in with some tacky magazines. The air conditioning in the surgery wasn’t working – the stuffiness was oppressive. I knew without having had the blood test that my iron levels were lower than usual because I was feeling whoosy and my vision was blurry. I think I misread some of the magazine headlines – is it true that Oprah is having an affair with Dr. Phil and that Paris Hilton tried to get an elephant drunk?
After waiting for over half an hour I got talking to a man sitting nearby. Martin was in his sixties and was waiting to get the results from a recent blood test. He was recovering from cancer. A good result from this test would indicate he was in remission. He had been through a terrible time with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation but believed he was lucky. ‘I’m going to recover completely,’ he said. He was planning a driving holiday around Australia to celebrate getting the all-clear.
Martin believed much of his luck was due to a talisman he carried in his pocket – a little cat made from silver. It was from a charm bracelet his mother wore as a child. Over time he had sold most of the charms but had always held on to the little cat. ‘She’s too special to let go,’ he said.
Martin placed the cat charm in the palm of my hand. It was heavier than I had expected and warm to the touch. The cat regarded me as if it could read my thoughts. If was strange, but I felt a form of energy coming from it. Could it be that Martin’s faith in it as a good luck charm had imbued it with some kind of power? Is the power of suggestion and strength of belief powerful enough to manifest good luck?
Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK believes our thoughts and behaviours are responsible for our good and bad fortune. He says lucky people generate good fortune due to four principles:
1. Skill at creating and noticing chance opportunities
2. making lucky decisions by listening to their intuition
3. creating self-fulfilling prophecies via positive expectations
4. adopting a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.
Martin was called in to see the doctor. I couldn’t settle. I couldn’t be sure if the air was filled with promise or dejection. The receptionist laughed, talking on the phone, eyes alight as if talking to a lover. An elderly lady napped. A young guy kept looking at his watch, poised on the edge of his seat as if ready to take flight. A man with a crushed linen shirt and a three-day growth fussed with his Blackberry. The second hand on the clock on the wall refused to lighten the load of waiting. I became convinced it was moving backwards.
A door opened. Martin emerged. His face was unreadable. He paid his bill, shoulders held dead straight as a tin soldier. I was giddy with not being able to stand it.
Martin turned, gave me a wink. ‘I got the all clear,’ he cried. ‘I’m off around Australia.’ He held the little silver cat up above his head, victorious. She gleamed, glorious as starlight. I felt small against the vastness of his certitude.
Maybe Tennessee Williams was right when he said:
“Luck is believing you’re lucky.”
Maybe that belief is all we need to change the course of our destiny.