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Making your own luck

Wednesday, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day. This time of year always makes me think of a strange hobby of mine and the lesson it has taught me.

I’ll start with this. If there’s any truth behind the concept of “the luck of the Irish,” then I’ve probably got enough luck to last me a lifetime.

When I was around 7 years old I went to spend the night at a friend’s house. We were playing in the grass in her backyard when I looked down and saw something. We were surrounded by clovers, and right next to my foot was a four-leaf clover.

As a kid, I’d heard rumors about the luck of clovers with four leaves. Excited, I went to go show off my lucky find. After only a few minutes, I looked back down in the grass and found yet another four-leaf clover, then another, then another.

The excitement of finding this almost mythical object became a hobby for me. From then on, I was finding four-leaf clovers left and right. On the playground, friends would argue over who got the next clover I found. At home, the pages of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary became filled with pressed clovers. Everywhere I looked I was finding them, and I was so proud of my unique skill that I often stared at the ground when walking rather than in front of me as I looked for the clovers. Yes, I ran into things many times.

Over the years, I began finding hundreds of four-leaf clovers, then thousands. I became an expert of sorts. I put them in jewelry. I Mod Podged them to my graduation cap. I would pause movies where characters were laying in the grass to point out to family members the four-leaf clover next to somebody’s head.

I (admittedly) bet and won money from those who didn’t believe I could find one in 30 seconds or less.

And it wasn’t just four-leafed clovers that I found over the years. I’ve found clovers with five, six, seven, even 10 leaves before.

I would try to teach others my same trick. I would tell them, “Just look for a square in a sea of triangles,” meaning look for a four-leafed clover in a field of three-leafed ones. For some people, that strategy seems to work. Others have more trouble.

After years and years of being a four-leaf clover hunter, I’ve realized there are three types of people you encounter in this world. There are those like me that can find one instantly, there are those who have found a few in their lifetime, and there are those who say they could never find one. Sometimes those people don’t even believe four-leaf clovers exist until you pluck one from the grass they’re standing upon.

Here’s the thing about four-leaf clovers. They are considered to be lucky and quite rare, and as stated above, many people have declared themselves unable to ever find even one.

“I guess I’m just not that lucky,” they say.

But the truth is that those people who think they can’t find one, that four-leaf clovers don’t even exist, are surrounded by them nearly all the time. They’ve stepped on more four-leaf clovers than they can imagine.

Sometimes that person just doesn’t have great eyesight, but more often than not, they have convinced themselves so thoroughly that something is unattainable that they don’t even bother looking for it anymore.

People do this all the time when it comes to four-leaf clovers, but people also do this with things like hopes, dreams, a big break in a career, even love. People convince themselves that they are just unlucky, that they’ve tried and failed one too many times, that the thing they want is unattainable and maybe doesn’t exist.

I don’t know if four-leaf clovers are lucky, but I do know that they’re not rare. Not remotely. Some people just think they’re rare because they’re not willing to get down in the grass and dirt and search for one.

You’ve got to get a little messy to chase your dreams. You’ve got to make your own luck.

ALEXA MASSEY is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Alexa.Massey@FarmvilleHerald.com.