Boy am I lucky

October 08 2013

Exactly two weeks passed between when I signed up for The Listserv and when I won the lottery. I know, right? So a) thanks to my friend Matty for recommending, and b) my apologies to long timers, especially those hoping you'll win because you have a perfect thing to share. I look forward to reading your perfect thing. But for now you get to read my imperfect thing, because I'm the lucky one.

I'm not being flippant. I really am the lucky one, always have been. Ask my family or close friends. I have an undeniable thing where I have preposterously good luck. This isn't new age-y bullshit. I'm a man of science and empirical data...this is fact. I take no credit for it and I wish I could harness it (for use in, say, a lottery that awarded cash). But I can't. But it's definitely a thing. So I choose to share the thing that makes me the luckiest.

The thing that makes me the luckiest is my parents. Clarification: I'm not holding them up as perfect people. They're sure not. But, after significant reflection, I feel justified holding them up as perfect parents. It feels worthy of sharing because good parenting is in woefully short supply these days. I'm not a parent, but I was parented, and I look back and see that my parents rocked it. I not only adore them, but I also still seek their advice when faced with important decisions. That's successful parenting. I am grateful to this project for giving me a chance to pass along some of their wisdom, which has benefited me so greatly.

"Make good decisions." My parents weren't big on forbidding things. But they made it clear as we got older that being an adult is a series of decisions, and all good things come as a result of making the right choices and learning from the consequences of the bad choices. So as we left to go out for the night, it wasn't do this or don't do that. All they said was, "Make good choices." It made me feel responsible and in control, like I had something to live up to, like they believed that I could.

"If you want to make friends, you've gotta be friendly." So many school, new neighborhood, new job, where it's easy to fall into the trap of expecting people to come to you, resenting them for not. But that's not how life works. You are the new guy, the burden is on you. Get out there, be friendly. People will respond.

"If you see someone else's nose running, go blow your own." A classic Irish-Catholic-parentism if ever there was one. This was from my Mom's mom, her antidote for tattle-tales. But it applies far beyond childhood. If you're paying attention, you can learn a lot from your mistakes, and far, far more from the mistakes of people around you.

"Never agree to a deal unless you understand why the other guy likes it." This is Dad, the businessman. It's easy to get wrapped up in what you want out of a deal, but if you don't want to get taken, you have to put yourself in the other guy's shoes.

"90% of life is just showing up." The older I get, the truer this feels. Nothing counts more than being there for the people you care about. In the best and worst times, you don't have to know what to say, or what to wear, or what to bring. Just show up and take it from there.

Owen D. Murphy
[email protected]
Chicago, IL

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