It’s easy to confuse good luck with virtue.  I learned that lesson this month in a tiny airport in Zambia. I had my heart set on buying some beautiful African textiles there; our plane was about to board and I rushed towards my purse and tripped.  I landed on my outstretched right arm and immediately felt like someone had taken a blowtorch to my shoulder.  (Nevertheless, I hobbled my sorry self over to the counter and paid for the cloth—you know–“shop while you drop!”)  I knew I was badly injured because I could barely raise my arm.  When we got home a few days later, the doctor confirmed that I had two serious tears to my rotator cuff.

Which brings me to the subject of luck vs. virtue.  I have had the good luck to be healthy and physically strong my whole life.  Until now, I set luck aside and went with the smug idea that I am in good shape because I am a good (i.e., virtuous) person.  I eat well and exercise regularly.  This ignores the fact my parents were both slender, never exercised at all, and yet lived into their late 80’s.

It is easy to unconsciously blame other people for some of their disabilities.  People who are overweight or can’t walk well because they have sore hips or knees are everywhere and it has nothing to do with virtue and much to do with bad luck and normal aging.  I have been lucky until now, but as the surgeon told me last week, “You look good for 74, but remember that your ligaments are still 74.”  I laughed because I can’t believe I’m 74, but the guy did have a point (which he could have kept to himself, in my opinion).  Next time you see someone in a knee brace or a big sling, remember that they are either unlucky or lucky to be living long enough to age.


Photo courtesy of absolutvision via Unsplash



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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