Luck is a funny thing. What does it mean exactly? Who is lucky? Am I lucky? Why? Just because I happen to be born white? Because to me, that is all in your perspective. To some, white skin is that lucky charm, the ticket to high class. To me, it is often a burden, something that holds me and others back from experiencing certains parts of a culture. When I stop to get take out on my way home from work, the cook looks at my skin, and puts a fork in my bag instead of chopsticks. Never mind I don’t even own a fork at the moment.
Is it lucky that I was born into a certain amount of wealth and privildge? Even though I did nothing to earn any of that. So does that make the child born into poverty unlucky? Because the way that I see it, that child has a better chance of living a life full of appreciation. Everything comes at a price. A meal may mean that another member of the household doesn’t eat that day. A blanket to cover with at night is given with hands blistered from work. They know where their gifts come from, and don’t take them for granted. I would rather be thankful than rich. No question.
There is a certain monk that hangs around near where I live. In this section of town where anything goes as far as fashion, he often blends into the crowd. He flows easily with the fast-paced crowd, keeping his bowl of offering held out. Shoppers and old women on the way home from the market drop a few coins in. The monk has a kind and appreciative face, and he bows his head with every clink in his bowl. There is an assurance in each bow of his humble head that lets the giver know that their money will be well used in a monestary or in the life of one in need.
There is another monk, near where I work. This monk is easy to spot, his mustard colored robes standing out against the black and grey of buisness suits. He stans apart from where the majority of people are lined up, waiting for the bus or stopped to answer a cell phone call. He has no bowl of offering stretched out, and his eyes search the crowd. He picks his target, and glides over to them, offering them wishes of luck and wealth. Most people ignore him completely, attending to their blackberry or briefcase. He spots me, and follows me to the steps that lead to the garden near work. “Luck and wealth for you.” He offers me a token, a golden oval paper with Chinese characters written on both sides. I hold up my hand, and shake my head. “No thank you.” He offers again, “No asking for money. Offering luck. Luck and wealth for you sister.” So I accept his token, wondering where the luck is hidden on this slip of paper. Then the monk holds out a small book, he opens it up, and written on the inside, “1 year luck – $100. 2 year luck – $200. 3 year luck – $300” I shake my head again, holding open my wallet to show it is empty. He loses his braced smile, and snatches the token back and walks quickly away. I stand there astonished. I didn’t know the luck had a price. Nor did I know that one got to chose who recieved, or could keep their luck. This monk and I have had many run-ins since. I pass that way 4 days a week for work. He sees me every day. And every day he tries again and again to sell me his golden luck. I have tried talking to him – but he is not intersted in conversation – only what he can sell me. I saw this same monk today, pass by a begger that regulars the steps of our church. As the monk’s robes were lifted to avoid the old man’s plastic bowl, a young woman was following behind him, a young child clutching her hand. She reaches in her purse and pulls out a handful of coins. The mother hands the coins the the child, who happily drops them in the old man’s begging bowl. She smiles at him as she skips away. Is it luck that the little girl feels security in her mother’s care? Is it luck that the old man was in the path of the thoughtful mother? So what exactly is the monk trying to sell? If it is the kind of luck that ignores need, I’m not interested. I will pass up your golden token, your offers of luck and wealth. I would rather recieve hope. I would rather offer hope. And I don’t think that they make a golden token for that sir.