What is luck? Where does it come from and why?
On my travels, I always feel like luck come my way, I'm waiting for something to happen and just by chance it does. Some of my favourite moments are those in which I was stranded in a difficult situation and as if by magic something happens to change my fate.
In November last year (2013), when I was working at a hotel in Athens, I was having a terrible time. I was broke, not one penny to my name, and my boss refused to pay me, always giving some excuse about how tight his finances were and that he'd give me my money as soon as he had it. I felt miserable because he was giving me no choice but to stay; if I left then surely I wouldn't get the money he owed me, if I stayed I had a chance.
One morning, I went for a stroll down the street and as I turned a corner, two people I recognised very well we're stood right in front of me.
"Holy f**k! I met you in Mexico two years ago!" I excitedly shouted.
They didn't recognise me, of course they didn't, we had only met briefly and they've been travelling non-stop for years now and met thousands of people. It was David and Shekinah. Two middle-aged Germans who had began to travel with no plan but to follow their feelings as each day came. They set off without any money, in the hope that the world would provide for them what they needed and nothing more.
When I had met them two years previous, it was in Mexico's most southern and poorest state Chiapas, in a town called San Cristobal de las Casas; a place which I hold dearly to my heart for its history and my experiences there. I was sat on a small table outside my favourite cafe one afternoon when they first came into view; two tall people resembling exactly what Jesus looks like in any picture; long white hair, robes made from old, cream-coloured cloth, brown leather sandals, and even a staff each.
I blinked a few times to check what I was seeing was real. Then I went to talk to them. They told me that travel could be a pilgrimage; one without any material things or even a camera to capture memories, but one purely to learn about the world and about life and how we are all provided for in some way each day as it comes.
"Back when the holy books were written, people used to go on pilgrimages all the time, but now nobody does. We don't follow a particular religion, we follow what we are presented with each day and we believe that is God." They told me.
I ran out of questions twenty minutes later, so I said good luck and left.
Back to present day in Athens (plus a quite a few more months, I'm behind with my writing), and here they were stood in front of me two years later. And for the first time in my life I could offer what so many people have been kind enough to give me over the years; food and a place to sleep. I took them to my hotel, gave them a room and some bread and cheese to fill their stomachs a little before they got some rest.
I cooked them dinner in the evening and that's when we got to talk properly. When I had first met them in Mexico they had been travelling for six years, so now it was eight. They told me how lucky they had been, how chance had been on their side, how their experiences, good or bad, had taught them or others something worthwhile. How "God" had provided for them.
I shared my own stories; of how kind people have been to me over the years and especially how my trip through West Africa had changed my whole life. We compared our similar stories of how, every so often as nomads such as ourselves, we are left without food or a place to stay, how these experiences ground you and remind you that you can't always have everything and make you grateful for when you have something.
They sang me songs they had created which they sing on the streets to the public busy with their fast lives; they play not for money but to make people happy.
The following day we said our goodbyes and they left not knowing where they were going but without a worry in the world. They made me so happy; by our chance meeting they had reminded me of what I love about the world and how unimportant my nasty, greedy boss was and that, in fact, I was free from his shackles.
After all my years of travel, I now feel the same as David and Shekinah do; that there is no need to worry because experience tells me that things work out the way they're supposed to. It's happened countless times where I don't know where I am or where I'm going, but I can remain completely calm about a stressful situation because I can relax in the knowledge that it will all work out fine in the end. Some people call this luck or fate or "The Universe" or God. It depends who you are; or mostly, nowadays, it's determined by where you're from and not necessarily your own choice or wisdom. There are hundreds of words to describe it. I've come to the point that calling everything luck or fate doesn't do my experiences justice. How could I have this much luck? Why does fate always seem to be on my side? Ok, let's call it "The Universe" then. Except I have no real knowledge of science or space, so "The Universe" is not really related to how I feel or think. After being around religious and spiritual people for the past few years, especially in Africa, I have peace in calling this thing God. It doesn't bother me, I'm not insecure in saying that word like so many people in the West, and especially in northern/western Europe, are nowadays.
I don't see a man in the sky. I see magnificent nature make the circle of life work around us. I see people who are incredibly kind for no reason other than they feel they want to be. I see decisions being made through feelings and not necessarily logic. I see things happen by chance then work out to be lessons to learn, good or bad. I see people summon the power to overcome terrible situations, to have the courage to do more than just serve themselves, to struggle endlessly against the machine that humanity has created; a system which enslaves us in poverty, in war, in debt, in worry, in sadness. I've met some almighty brave and honest people in my life who's stories are mind-blowing and I wonder what gives them the strength to go through these situations. I call that strength God as well now; and any positive feeling or thought or process. And I believe in all of this more than I believe I'm writing these words right now. I feel peaceful inside and truly happy with anything that comes my way because of this belief and faith in the world.
Less than one week after I met David and Shekinah, I met the group of Syrians who I would spend the coming months with and who I would share unforgettable experiences with, and our meeting would boost our faith in the goodness and strength of humanity, and who have, quite possibly, changed my entire future.
I'm going to tell that story soon. I've been skirting around it in my stories and Facebook posts since it first happened. It's a great story which could possibly have a positive impact on the situation of Syrian people around the world if I tell it publicly and successfully. But first, I need to just check my rights. And hope that luck is on our side.