I am standing in the middle of Boone Lake. It’s a sunny, late-winter afternoon, and a layer of cold sweat lies on the thawing ice. The air has a bite. I am splashing in puddles on the ice, trying to make it crack. A few yards away patches of open black water taunt me.
My friends on shore have gone silent, like, What the hell is he up to? The lake is deep, and the ice is thin, and what I’m doing is really stupid. So why am I doing it?
The answer is complicated.
People have always told me I’m lucky. This started when I was young. Something providential would happen to me, and my parents would say, “Well, Tommy, you’re the lucky one.”
This narrative made me feel special. Like I was favored by the gods or something. For a long time I felt I deserved to be lucky because I was a good boy.
For no rhyme or reason, lucky things did, in fact, happen to me. For example, I was always finding money on the ground, once even a hundred-dollar bill. This led to my habit of looking down when I walk.
I also had uncanny fortune when it came to my teachers. Each year I was assigned to the best teacher in my grade. Our school had some really terrible teachers, but mine were always the ones who had us skipping ahead in math, building rocket ships, memorizing Shakespeare sonnets, and running laps around the other kids.