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Luck of the Draw by Amy

This post originally appeared on my blog

I have been thinking about this concept in my life and the life of my family a lot lately. Obvious things, like the contrast between the abundant clothes on the floor of my daughter’s room and the images of the African girls in the “Donate Pillowcases to Little Dresses for Africa post”. Or the contrast between the open and accepting environment of my daughters’ school and those documented in the film “Bully”. And, on a more superficial level, when discussing college choices, options, acceptances and rejections, as I am prone to do this time of year.

I am at that stage where my friends, their children and my own daughter are swirling, obsessing, analyzing and reviewing options and strategies. “Champagne problems,” a friend of mine calls them. And he is right. We do all this hoping to put ourselves and our children in a position to be one of the lucky ones. A lucky one who gets picked. Because we all know that the talented, smart, capable people too far outnumber the positions, the openings, and the opportunities, to continue to be one of the lucky ones. Being qualified and being in the best possible position is the work we do, but it doesn’t guarantee success or even an opportunity to succeed.

Because the luck of the draw enters into every aspect of life at some point, in some way, seen or unseen. I believe it explains the difference between getting hit or avoiding the accident by a split second, in living a long healthy life or having the wrong cell start dividing and multiplying in your breast or ovary, in getting accepted, in making the team, being cast in the show, becoming the Idol or the Voice, in getting the new job, and in keeping the current job. If it isn’t luck or lack of it, then I am at a loss to explain so much of what I see going on in the world today. Big philosophical stuff and small practical stuff, all baffling me, causing varying degrees of bewilderment, frustration and moral indignation. My emotions run the gambit between writhing outrage and despondent resignation. Maybe the luck of the draw is as good a system as any?

Take the random encounter I had the other day. I ran into a lovely woman I know while killing time in one of my favorite stores. She is the kind of friend that I don’t see often, don’t really socialize with, but circumstances in our lives bring us together every so often. We have a lot in common and every time we are together the connection is deep and personal, never superficial. Anyway, after the quick catch up on the basics, she told me that as a tenured teacher of more than 20 years she was at risk of losing her job. Due to budget cuts, five positions at her school were being cut and that all of the teachers were tenured with a similar situation to hers, so they were drawing straws to see who kept their jobs and who would be reassigned within the district.

We’ve heard and read stories like this all too often these past few years, and each and every one is heartbreaking and distressing, but this one stayed with me for awhile. I know my friend’s story and circumstances, and how and why this is stressful for her. And I know there are four other stories in just this one situation. And countless more like it happening everyday in every community, some harder hit than others. And then I started thinking about my children’s teachers and wondered what luck of the draw put them in the classroom helping to mold the impressionable lives before. My kids were a few of the lucky ones, with teachers who wanted to be there, who truly connected with my children, and who did, in fact, influence the people they are on their way to becoming. And I wondered how I would decide who should go and who should stay, or even if I could decide, or if I too would resort to drawing straws.


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