Thursday, June 30, 2022

Better to be lucky than smart

 We've got the morning off here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/ Home for the mentally constipated. 

 When I'm on days, I usually roll out of bed at 0430 to start my day before I start my day. I'm one of those annoying people who wakes up happy and has to wait for my day to ruin that, but I also don't like to speak much when I'm just out of the rack. We're all like that on here, in fact, which makes it comfortable. Generally, beyond a 'good morning' you wait for the guy getting up to start conversation, not the other way around. And that's how we like it. 

    During the quiet time before taking on the business of the day I check my personal emails and whatnot.  And today I got an email from a childhood friend who told our group that he was getting divorced. 

 Damn, that bummed me out. Of course you want your friends to be happy. I'm extremely fortunate in that I'm still on speaking terms and keep in touch more or less with my childhood friends. I'm 48 and have been friends with these guys since Kindergarten or primary school. 

 I look at the lives of so many friends and acquaintances, and I sometimes feel very fortunate, very lucky. Sometimes I question if I really have it that easy, compared to them, and sometimes the answer is yes. By 'them' I don't mean anyone in particular, but I see the challenges that people in my life face, and I am grateful that I am not dealing with these things too. 

  Last week we were coming into a berth in Bayonne NJ while I was off watch and out on deck, and I threw a line to the dock that was an absolute Hail Mary  .  Line throwing on a boat is a learned skill and I am only average at it, but I am more accurate when I am at the upper limit of distance for me. Basically you throw a heavy mooring line such that the eye opens and drops onto a bitt on the dock some distance away. The heavier the line the shorter the max distance you can throw.  And this was a 100% throw, the kind that I'm not supposed to do at age 48 but the mood was right and I didn't blow out my rotator cuff, so all's well, and I hit that bitt. 

I'm not on a tugboat but you get the idea.

 I lassoo'd that mooring bitt as we started drifting off away from the dock, and it was the best throw I've made in a few years.  As I handed off the line to the young deckhand, I said "See, it's better to be lucky than smaht anyday."  I said smaht because though I am a southerner, I still have the accent that makes me Boston Paul at work. Seriously, nobody knows my last name here, and of the few who do, it's not like they'll pronounce it right anyhow. 

   And maybe there's some truth to the value of luck here. Despite my best efforts, I guess I'd still be classed as 'smaht' given my past and what happens between my ears at times. But being smart hasn't brought me near as much as being relatively lucky and generally a fairly nice person. 

 I don't normally think of myself as being lucky. I never win shit on lotteries or scratch tickets, and I can't speed in a car without getting pulled over, and luck of the draw almost never favors me.  But in life? Yeah, I can't explain many of the good things I have as being things I've merely earned. My marriage? Lots of work put in to make it so successful, sure, but it was just dumb luck and probably my wife's poor eyesight that got the foundation put down there.  And given my nature I'm VERY fortunate. I mean, I'm more Lenny than George most days, and I can't see further through a brick wall than the next guy. The early years where communication had to be simple and direct because of the language barrier got us both attuned to the importance of communication, I guess, and as our vocabulary in each other's language expanded, we were both very lucky to find that we liked each other even more as our thought processes became known to each other. 

 Again, luck. OK, luck coupled with focus and hard work, but without that luck?   I'd still be kicking rocks. 

   My job? I'm only here because of a lucky interaction with a classmate in a Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation class I was taking. I was on my off time from the oil tanker I had a permanent slot on, and one of my classmates is part of the family that owns this company and they needed tankerman badly enough that my friend put a good word in for me. All this happened just as my former employer went tits up in a big way. Again, luck. Well, luck and good networking.

   That seems to be the pattern with me. Dumb luck and... some minor contribution on my part.  Hell, even before all this, when I was a 100% thoroughly unhappy and miserable grad student who hated his school, hated his professors and hated his career prospects, it was just dumb luck and a visit to my old high school teacher/captain at his lobsterboat in my hometown that made me realize how much I preferred being on a boat to being a goddam government administrator, which was my most likely career path at the time.  

    And the day it all came to a head for me, much later,  the last day of the last class in grad school, when I couldn't take the prospect of living my life as it was for just one more second, it was dumb luck that in moving back to my home town in Massachusetts,  I stopped at the town pier because I bought a sandwich and wanted to eat in peace and look at the boats before going to see my parents, and 10 minutes later I had a full time job on a boat. Again, just luck. I'm grateful that I have been blessed in so many ways, and that my challenges in life aren't more than I'm capable of handling. 


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