So says the inimitable Edna Mode. And, on the whole, it’s a statement I very much subscribe to. It is not enough to want something, or hope for something – we, quite likely, need to work for it. Learning, creating, rehearsing, adapting, overcoming our barriers and then building the path step by step. And when something goes awry, as things invariably seem to do, being prepared gives us the wherewithal to right the ship and get things back on course to what we want.
But in that quote, and similar ones like “Fortune favors the bold,” there’s something we often miss. And it’s that second word: “Favors.” It’s not guarantees, it’s not promises, it’s not even “agrees to help you.” It’s favors. Chance (and/or luck) always remains a factor. A big factor. And while being prepared can increase our chances, it’s still remains a roll of the dice.*
When we acknowledge and own that, we gain freedom. We can be kinder and gentler to ourselves. We can put aside our assessments of where we are versus where we wanted (or “should”) be, especially in comparison to others. We can avoid sentencing ourselves to being a failure, and carry forth under that shame.**
More importantly, we can also judge others with greater grace and generosity. We can set aside our dismissals and opinions on their lives and all the reasons why things aren’t going well for them, and we can forego all the ways we might treat them harshly because of it, be it shunning, punishing, ridiculing, or anything of the like. **
Even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and even a mouse sized setback or unexpected hindrance can spiral into another, and another, and another. To be fortunate requires fortune to favor us, and that is never a certain thing. Living into that context brings with it peace of mind, connection, and opens possibility, freeing us to pursue and to support each other in pursuing those things that call to us deeply.
* Which is something many a tabletop gamer can relate to. It doesn’t matter if you have +12 to hit… you may still miss. And then there was the time where the DM, at the end of the campaign, after so many sessions, with the ultimate and final roll about to be made, and after long and theatrical preamble, told the player, “Look, basically just don’t roll a 1.” By the very fact I’m using this as an example for how fortune can fail us, you and I both know I don’t need to describe what happened next…
** At the same time there is the flip side. For ourselves, there is humility – acknowledging our fortune and that sometimes privilege gave us a boost – and not becoming conceited and hubristic. When looking at others, we can remember that those who have accomplished much (or acquired a lot of wealth) are not necessarily or inherently better people, worthy of worship and imitation.