I was listening to this talk on Youtube about luck, and that got me thinking.

    It's a cliche when people talk about luck, and someone gets lucky, or unlucky. It feels it is something we have no control over, and it is just randomly happened, for good and for bad. It is an easy execuse to make an unhappy reality tolerable, and a fortune justifiable. But in the end, no one can explain what brought that luck — granted, there have always been many theories on its coming, but the fundamental attribute of luck is that it is not predictable!

    That's right. I suddenly realized what a luck is — Luck only exists in a rear view mirror. There is no such thing as forward looking luck, or future luck, or you will get lucky, because the truth is, you don't know until it has happened and you already experienced the result, whatever it may be, pleasant or horrible.

    So why can't luck be something we can control, produce, maybe with a lot of effort, but at least there is a hope? No. What the word luck has become is actually a baggage of variables that can ONLY exist in the past, and they may have contributed to the final result. But there are two problems we simply do not have a method yet, nor a capacity, to make this reverse engineering effort possible:

    1. How do we know how many variables are there that contributed to this result? Literally there are infinite number of them, and each plays a role in the final showdown. If you think of it, the mere existence of you and me is an accumulated miracle over that many seconds of pure coincidence since birth to this very moment that I'm typing and you are reading.
    2. It is easy to come up with a correlation between a significant variable (we think) to the result. But too often one confuses correlation with causal relationship, and mistakenly took the former as the accepted answer. No! Correlation is by definition looking in the rear view mirror! It can not, will not, should not, and absolutely must not, be used to produce a deterministic next. There is no such a logic. Therefore, luck can only be explained and theorized, but not (yet) known beforehand.

    But I got curious. So often we say good luck with a sincere heart; we believe in religion and pray for miracles; we, everyone of us, get lucky sometimes. It's a wonderful feeling. Are we powerless in mastering our own destiny in this sense? Can we influence its trajectory through something like hard work, training, discipline, faith, diet, high spirit, good looking, fortune? After all, there are just so many things we don't like about our current existence — the result of a series of bad lucks, and we all wish to change our luck, to graze the grass on the other hill because they look greener. We constantly fight this desire for a better luck through painfully self-reminder that we should be happy with what we already have, and we label all those thoughts of wanting a change as desire, greed, immuture, , which all convey a negative feeling that put us to shame. But if the urge of having a better luck isn't part of us, why doesn't it just go away? why did it come up even? This is strange, isn't it?

    So if luck is a summary of all the past, I think the computer model is actually pretty simple. We have a function, result = f(var1, var2, var3......), and if only we could count in all the variables, and have enough samples to test this function. So far we can't have all the variables yet, because it feels everything is related — didn't turn right at a cross 10 years ago, well, it eventually leads to me being still alive, today! How far fetched it seems! but then, how true it is!

    Life itself is an accumulated decisions, and the funny thing is that we think some carry more weight than others, but the reality is that they are all the same! No one has a crystal ball, and no one can turn back the clock, so decision is a one way street. Therefore, what you choose today makes no difference whatsoever because there is no reference! You make a decision, then you move on. Whatever comes out of life, is the result=f(decision 1, decision 2, .... decison N). Since we don't have a book writing down for each decision we made and linking them to what came out it after, we already lost track of this record, which in turn makes analysis impossible. So when people say luck, it is really nothing but a cherry-picked set of variables one decides to use to support his/her statement, nothing more than that!

    Therefore, luck, is really in the domain of subjective emotion than objective reality. The irony, however, lies when someone believes his success is not due to luck, but some deterministic methodology that can be replicated and re-iterated. That's pure BS. Just say you are lucky and move on — saying "oh I was just lucky" is a polite way to acknowledge the ignorance, which is the only truth. Seriously, can you write me this list of variables that are sufficient to generate the same result!? If you can not, you are just, lucky. Just don't fool yourself (and many audience, unfortunately) that you have a recipe. You can have a theory, however, and it's up to others to try that if they will. But selling your design of success is a lie.

    There you have it. Luck, only exists in the past. It's a representation of subjectively picked variables to establish a correlation between the past and a result. So in this sense, you can always feel lucky, and be lucky, if you want to.

    — by Feng Xia


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