Real Luck

“It's not about being in the right place, nor are favorable conditions enough. You must be there at the right moment; and tonight you are lucky.” said the guide of my Northern Lights tour. She was speaking to a bus of more than fifty passengers at the time, explicitly referring to the Aurora Borealis, but it felt like her words were directed only to me.

At the start of my recent travels, I wrote that I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I was having a great time seeing unique parts of the world; essentially finding myself in the right places with favorable conditions. It was not until Iceland that I understood how crucial it is to find the right moment. Rarely does serendipity present itself in life but when it does, true luck begins.

Now that I am back in the US and my traveling is done for now, I can easily connect the dots of luck from my trip. As if written for Hollywood scripts, often if just one minuscule detail had been altered, I might never have met the perfect strangers; people who popped up in exactly the right moments.
Perfect strangers.

There are so many examples I could provide. They range from meeting people with uncannily common backgrounds/interests to people pursuing similar goals as me. 

One was a Canadian Ph.D. student who is researching the reasons behind long-term volunteerism abroad (with a focus in Africa). I also met an American on the train in Paris who like me lived in West Africa and is entering graduate school for international affairs, something I plan to do.

Would I have met that Canadian if she would not have offered to take my photo when she saw me standing alone? And what if I had taken a different train or decided to walk (as I usually do) on the day I ran into that American?


By far the luckiest series of events was related to my volunteer experience in France. When I began to discover things were not working at my host, I met another traveler who helped me escape.

Our encounter was hinged on so many of those minute details. I met him two days before his scheduled departure date. Prior to the trip I even contacted and was ready to volunteer with his host but decided to go with the other one at the last minute. Otherwise, we would have been volunteering together. Weirder still, both hosts knew each other and lived just 30 minutes apart. All these “perfect moments” combined to make our paths cross.

That is not all. I was accepted to a second host the volunteer recommended to me at a perfect moment too; just before they had a prospective buyer coming to look at their house. If that were not the case, they would not have needed a volunteer and might not have let me come. Instead, I got to have an amazing experience with them, ending my time in France on a positive note.

Maybe all these moments seem perfect in hindsight. Maybe it is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, I choose to believe in the perfect moment. I am in the right place, with favorable conditions; I am lucky.


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