owing a debt to the unlucky

by wynlim

“Life’s outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.” – Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball

I haven’t always been the person most of you would know today. In the first two-thirds of my three-decade life I had been self-centered and quick to hurt people without much regard for their reactions.

I cannot really pinpoint exactly how and why along the way I transformed. It was probably the despair I felt very keenly back then, I was trying to find an incentive to be alive and I couldn’t find it on the trajectory I was going on.

Kindness is addictive. If only one opens herself/himself to experience it. I was lucky, despite my emotional immaturity I had a few people in my life who allowed me their grace even though I thought I didn’t deserve it. 

I was such a difficult person, I was brimming with negativity, I resented my circumstances but wouldn’t do much about it. But perhaps the key difference was that I still tried harder than the average would, despite all my complaints and misery I was still willing to try to do something, even though I was a wet blanket to myself, to everybody around me.

Someone saw that I guess. That little spark of fire which was almost invisible and thought to be non-existent. There have been so many times I was sick of myself, but there had been people who would extend their grace and tell me otherwise.

Time and time again I have been touched by people’s kindness and generousity, time and time again I feel compelled to extend my own grace to others, simply because I know exactly how powerful it is to be at a receiving end of an unexpected act of kindness. I remember all of those times I was in desperate desolation and someone showed me a door I thought to be closed, or a perspective I have never considered.

I remember all these people, every single one of them. I remember all the blog posts strangers have written – posts they probably think were deeply personal and nobody would care to read, but made a difference to the way I think and feel today. I especially remember the people who made a bet on me even though I really wouldn’t bet on myself. 

I owe a huge debt to these people which I could probably never repay in my lifetime, for every single moment of my joy and happiness that I experience now is only possible because they have once taken a chance of someone. Someone whom the rest of the world had given up on.

And that is why I am deeply obligated to the ones who have given up on themselves, or those who are thinking right now that they have nothing to live for or look forward to – I know only too well how it feels like to be in that position. 

I don’t forget. I can forget to do my laundry or eat my lunch, even some tasks on my to-do list for work, but I don’t forget the pain I used to feel. 

The memory of my pain propels me forward though it is the grace I have received in my life which truly drives me along the way. The recognition of other people who are like me but didn’t have the luck to have their breaks breaks my heart, every single day.

And so it is such, I owe a debt to the unlucky. I can only try to pay it forward in every little way possible, including little things like sharing my personal experiences on this blog. I think, and I hope I am right, if someone like me can experience what it feels like to be truly alive, perhaps one day, the one who sees no light in front of them now, can too.

I cannot count how many times in my life I thought it has gone pitch black but I waited it out. 

And I am glad I did, because the events for the past few years are very encouraging, especially on the macro level. That humanity is at her best when people are collectively working for the betterment of fellow humans. 

Slowly, due to the grace of others I have become a happier and better person. Generosity and kindness did not come to me because I am kind, but because I am selfish – for I selfishly want to find an incentive to live, I selfishly become happier when I make someone smile. 

Kindness is addictive, once I have experienced a tiny bit of it, I only want more. Knowing that I could have an impact on someone else’s well-being gives me a rush irreplacable by anything else. 

I am not a saint, I just want to be selfishly happy, and I am grateful to have found out that at least for me, happiness comes in the form of trying to light up the paths of others.