Rather be Lucky?

Ever have one of those inspirational moments that sets you off on a quest to explore a thought? Maybe something similar to one I had a few mornings ago on the parking lot of a local convenience store.

Walking to my car, the sun was at just the right angle to make a new penny shine as if it were gold. Some might not want to be seen picking up a penny on the parking. I, on the other hand, consider it part of my workout routine. You know, a stretching exercise.

As I reached down for the penny, I realized it was heads-up. Of course, I immediately remember the old saw, “Find a penny, pick it up. All the day long, you’ll have good luck.” Of course, according to some, only pennies that are face up are lucky. Since this one was face up, I wondered if “all the day” included earlier in the day when I bought a lotto ticket. That triggered a whole train of thought that prompting this post.

Hopefully, the title of this piece reminded you of another old saying, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” That phrase can be interpreted in several ways, but you are most likely to hear it voiced by a duffer on the golf course who makes a miraculous shot. The next most likely place may be when someone survives a crisis for which he is totally unprepared.

Sometimes, sheer luck can save the day or make the moment for someone. However, many times, that luck is backed up by some level of skill, even planning. If that were not true, the odds of “luck” on the golf course or in the middle of a crisis would be even longer than the odds of winning the last lotto fortune. Take the picture above, for example.

That picture came to mind when I wondered about the penny being good luck. When I took that picture, my immediate hope was, “Maybe I’ll get lucky.” My little wish was based on the circumstances surrounding the shot.

One of my grandsons was playing baseball. I was attempting to take some decent photographs of him and his teammates and faced several challenges. In this particular instance, He was batting and hit a blooper over second base. I was standing just outside the ballpark fence across from first base. I had a great angle to take a series of pictures as he ran to first.

The problem was as he got closer, there was no time to switch from telephoto to wide-angle. Also, his coaches were partially blocking the shot. I had to raise the camera up to shoot over them, and I was standing on a portable pitching mound that made my footing less than stable.

I expected to have some excellent close-ups of the baseline or maybe the turf, and I did. Also, I had the shot above! Yes, we can get lucky.

It is possible, theoretically at least, for someone who never played a round of golf to hit a hole in one. As we see on television occasionally, it is also possible for someone who doesn’t play basketball to make a basket from midcourt and win a scholarship. Still, in most cases, luck is based on preparation. It is practice and preparation that lead to us getting lucky. Take this picture as an example.

To many people, it doesn’t look like much. Truthfully, it is not what one might call an award-winning photo. Still, coupled with the shots of him running toward the base, glancing at the field to see if someone was quick enough to retrieve the ball and throw it to third, it is the record of his success. Also, that play was important. He was safe on first and scored a few plays later, helping his team win that game and the tournament in which they were playing.

Yes, I was lucky to a degree. I was lucky I managed to keep shooting as I stumbled back. I was lucky I could keep the lens pointed in the right direction. Yet, I was only lucky because I had missed numerous shots in the past because of movement on my part or the subject’s part. I had learned how, roughly at least, to keep the lens pointed toward the subject of the shot.

A sports photographer, wildlife photographer, or grandkid sports photographer will take hundreds, or thousands of pictures in some cases, to get that one good shot. In this case, luck did play a part because it took less than 100 shots during the game to find some keepers, but the odds were against me. For hunters or others familiar with guns, it was a completely offhand snapshot. That’s why I hoped I was lucky.

The truth is, in this case, and any case where it seems luck played a hand, preparation is still a key to increasing your chances of getting lucky.

© oneoldcop – 2020

About S. Eric Jackson

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2 Responses to Rather be Lucky?

  1. jamfayle says:

    Well said, S.E. And ‘good luck’ to the ballplayer grandson and his team!

  2. oldcowdog says:

    Very nice! I’ve been much luckier than prepared much of my life!

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