Mark White

Fortune

They say some among us have seen many lives — the “old souls.” These have lived so many times before that wisdom comes to them effortlessly. Empathy is an instinct living in their very bones, after having lived with so many people of so many ages in the course of dying and being reborn again. Others say that if some soul has an easy life, it's because they've seen such hardships in past lives that they were destined to get a cosmic break at some point.

I don't know if I believe that last point. But I've been incredibly fortunate in my life. I don't have a million dollars or any major marking of success by our society's standards, but I have what I need, I can understand others, and I haven't faced major adversity in life.

Sometimes when you look back on your life you see events that seem to fit into a perfect path that has led you to this very moment. You see meeting someone years ago that you still know well today, and how that meeting makes your life better now. You see a major initial decision that opened the opportunity to make others, which all finally led to a recent, incredible opportunity that is so far removed from the initial decision you just never could've anticipated it.

When I think about fortune, I think about these decisions and chance encounters. But it naturally leads me to remember the small part I've played, which was being open to these unanticipated events. Whether I've lived 100 times before or not, serendipity has only been enabled by my unending willingness to indulge in it.

This is why I don't believe the universe is keeping track and cutting me some slack in this go-around. I've still seen unfortunate events in my life. I've lost people, lost myself, lost my grounding, been injured bodily or hurt emotionally. But I'm alive, and in life's unending changes there is one constant: as long as I'm alive, I have the chance to encounter new fortune. This knowledge makes it possible to take the bad events with the good; maybe my true innate fortune is so readily understanding this.

This morning I woke thinking of love — the kind I've seen in the past, the kind I'd like to see in the future. I thought about how effortlessly I can give it, and how the first few women I got really close to in life were so incredibly passionate and caring — both for me and for themselves. I didn't have the wisdom to recognize the gravity of that at age 17, but another lifetime with the world has shown me how important that is. I realize now they've played a major role in making me a more compassionate lover. Meeting them, especially so early in life, was incredibly fortunate.