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Luck or the Clever Monkey

John W. Pinkerton


I don't know about you, but for me “luck” is as important as earth, water, air, and fire were to the ancient Greeks who considered these the basic elements of life.  Luck has a great effect, good and bad, on our lives.  We should probably pay a little more attention to it than most of us do.

There are no great synonyms for “luck.”  Well, I prefer to call luck the Clever Monkey, anyway.

I must admit that Clever Monkey has been kind to me through the years…well, more often than not.  I'll give you a few examples.

Clever Monkey allowed me to return to my hometown and my high school in Pineville, Louisiana.  Who knows who or what I might have become if had not returned to Pineville and instead had remained in Arkansas or Texas or California…California---the horrors, the horrors?

In Pineville I was surrounded by good and  smart friends.  Our teachers were super folks and great teachers.    That was a great piece of luck because it seemed that we moved at least twice a year from the time I was about six years old, but I was in Pineville High School for four years.

The year I graduated from high school, Clever Monkey arranged to have a new branch of  LSU, LSU at Alexandria, where I went to school for two years.   Also that was the first year that the National Student Loan program was established of which I was able to take advantage.

At the beginning of my junior year at LSU’s main campus, I had to decide upon a major.  The Clever Monkey stepped in and decided that I would be an English major rather than a philosophy major.  Thanks, Clever Monkey.

Oh yeah, remember that student loan; well, after a couple of years in the service (by the way, I went to Germany rather than Vietnam, just saying.), I started teaching in a rural school in Texas.  The people in charge of the student loan program sent me a bill, but it turned out that because I was teaching in a financially poor school district, they would forgive my loans over a five year period.

The Clever Monkey allowed me to marry Linda.  We're working on 52 years now.  I appreciate that, Clever Monkey.

After twenty-five years of classroom teaching, I was offered (after another teacher was offered the job but dropped out) the job of district librarian, but I'd have to go to school, Sam Houston, about an hour and a half from home.  After taking one course, I was informed that the state, because of  the shortage of librarians, would be allowing an applicant simply to pass a state test which, of course, I did.  I recall Linda's comment at the time, “You are the luckiest person.”  I responded, “I can't help it,” but I didn’t apologize.

After thirty-five years for me and thirty for Linda, we were able to retire.  I'm sure I came close to being fired many times.  Let's just say, I was not universally loved particularly by superintendents, lots of jackasses in that group.

After we retired I started painting without any intention of selling, but Clever Monkey was on the job: of all things, two ladies opened a first class gallery in the most unlikely of settings, Somerville, Texas.  We sold 165 paintings in my first show which was followed by a couple of less popular shows followed by getting into the best gallery in the area over in Round Top where I also sold a bunch of paintings.

Anyway, my luck held pretty well until I retired.  Then the Clever Monkey began to bring my extraordinary good luck back into balance with a series of illnesses: you can place the word “serious” in front of all of these---hyperthyroidism, pleural effusion, COPD, heart attack, loss of the practical use of my left eye.  I won't dwell on these because Clever Monkey is just trying to bring balance into my life.  Thanks, Clever Monkey…I think.

Okay, here is what I've learned about luck. Don't press it.  Let it come to you.  Don't ask for it: it just irritates the Monkey.  Don't question when good luck comes.  Try not to question it if it doesn't come or even if bad luck comes.

Just keep on working doing your normal stuff.  If luck sees you in a favorable light, enjoy the ride.  I have.  If the Clever Monkey doesn't care for your looks, good luck.