As I mentioned a few weeks ago, before my days of self-employment, I worked as an administrative assistant and receptionist in the physics department at a university. One afternoon, without looking for anything in particular, but nonetheless looking down as I returned from lunch to the building that housed my office, I spotted a four-leaf clover. And then another. And another. Plucking them one by one, I amassed something like 18 or 20 four-leaf clovers in a matter of seconds. And then a single five-leaf clover.
Clearly I'd happened upon a genetic mutation in the grassy patch on the north side of the building.
I mean, I was delighted, no doubt about it. But was I looking for luck? No. Did I even believe in luck, at least the kind that four- and five-leaf clovers are said to bring? Not entirely. Did I still feel an overwhelming desire to hoard all the clovers (you know, just in case they were lucky) and abuse my access to the laminating device behind my desk? You bet.
What I did instead was to give them all away.
Now, before you go thinking I'm some kind of saint, let me be clear: I didn't do it as a gesture of kindness, not at first. I did it because the good fortune overwhelmed me. One or two clovers would've been cute; I'd have given one to Dana and kept one for myself. If there'd been a few more than that, my closest girlfriends might've lucked out (so to speak). Maybe I'd have happily laminated seven or eight of them and dropped one in every birthday card I mailed for the next few months.
But nearly two dozen, and all at once? For a split second, the pile of them felt like a burden. Like a solution to a problem I didn't have.
Which isn't to say that I felt like a particularly lucky person, or that I was someone who took a stand against luck or lucky charms. I wasn't, and I'm not.
It was just that I didn't need them to mean what they usually meant.
I wasn't looking for a grand sign, for some signal from the Universe that fortune was on my side.
A year earlier, I might've had a different reaction; I might've needed those clovers to reassure me that I'd find what I was looking for—adventure, the Big Love of my life, work that felt like an extension of my purpose.
Anyway, aside from the five-leaf clover that took a trip through the laminating device and now lives in my wallet (couldn't hurt, right?), I offered a clover to every person who came through the office.
Actually, what I offered was something else.
"Do you need some luck?" I asked students, professors, and staff people as I gestured to the sheet of clover-covered copy paper on my desk, a tray of earthy emeralds.
No one declined. Not even the physicists.
As I searched for that picture of the clovers earlier today, I scrolled through a whole slew of old photos from the past year or two. Something that caught my eye was a picture I'd taken of a page from Abigail Thomas's gorgeous memoir, What Comes Next and How to Like It:
Most times, I think, the accidental is the thing we're called to notice. The right timing and the wrong timing. The symbolic and the meaningless.
Maybe it isn't up to us to evaluate what we get, to make sense of our accidents. Maybe the 18 clovers never meant anything. Maybe one person who wasn't looking needed to be looking for luck, or a talisman of it—and that person just so happened to pass the desk where I was handing it out for free. But maybe not.
We look for a thing and we find it. In plain sight, there all the while.
We don't look for a thing, but we see it anyway. It finds us and asks only to be noticed, brought to light, shared.
Notes from the week of June 12
+ RuPaul, esp. in this interview (seriously, listen to it; he's one of the most enlightened & eloquent people I've ever heard in my life)
READ & NODDED MY HEAD
+ "I'm not sure what else there is to do, but to be one of the distribution points of love in what at times feels like a sea of darkness or hate. Sometimes, doing that small & simple thing—loving the person in front of you—can still take a decent amount of work. But it's worth it"
READ & GIGGLED
+ "I want you to feel the burning radiation of your self-worth as you say, THIS IS ME. THIS IS WHO I AM. IF YOU’RE NOT INTO ME BECAUSE I’M WEARING AN UNCOMFORTABLY LONG SKI HAT, MAYBE THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIP FOR EITHER OF US"
+ Aspen Coffee Company, a new-to-us coffee house
+ I will be starting a Book of Me; is it something you might want to try?