I’ve been the beneficiary of spectacular dumb luck three times in my life. When I went on my student year abroad, I was randomly assigned to a student housing building that proved to be an amazing social hub. I was the only American there, and my year was a wonderful round of fun. Since I’d always been the serious, scholarly type, I really enjoyed the chance to be at the center of a true social whirl.
When I went to law school, the entering class was divided up into five sections, with each section taking all of the basic first year classes together. By sheer dumb luck, I ended up in a section that, to this day, has a reputation at the law school for having been the best section: the funniest, the most fun, the most clever, the most social and, surprisingly given its social bent, academically the strongest.
When we left San Francisco and moved to the suburbs, we found a good fixer upper on a nice looking street. There were a few families with kids the same age as ours, and they seemed friendly. Little did I know that our neighborhood would blossom into an extraordinary place, filled with children, and that the friendly families would provide a comprehensive support network. We ferry each other’s children around, run multiple carpools, host endless play dates, have adult get-togethers, have our kids on the same sports teams, and on and on.
Even better, we’re a community that shares very similar values. My kids go to an affluent public school where fancy clothes and popularity hold way too much sway over the general student population. In our neighborhood, however, which is where the children do the majority of their socializing, they have at their back a community in which money is an object, so the children are not spoiled, and in which the dominant virtue is to be a nice, good person, not a popular person.
In each of the three cases described above, I didn’t go hunting for these situations. Instead, they found me — dumb luck. And boy do I feel lucky.