The Turn of a Card

Life is a balance of the bold and strong on one side and the quiet and delicate on the other. 

Within one week we had a new member of the family come into this world noisily and triumphantly while just days before a longtime friend of the family quietly passed away much too early. 

You have probably experienced similar situations in life. It magnifies the point that so much of what we call “our life” is left to the roll of the dice and the turn of a card.

I’ve been thinking about this lately and it reminded me of a story that illustrates, in a small way, the role chance plays in our lives.

My grandfather grew up, for the most part, in a small farming community on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Picture a dry, sandy, sunny place, that’s very much not Seattle.

Wenatchee Heights is in the Columbia River basin. Local propaganda says they get 300 days a year of sunshine. (It’s really closer to 200.) It is classified as a desert with only 9 inches of rain fall per year.

In this climate, on this land, my grandfather grew up on an orchard in a house that was roughly one third the size of their small barn. It was chance, in this case the turn of a card, that determined that my grandfather grew up in this particular house. 

A turn of a card that said he would spend his grade school years in the local one-room school house, with a teacher that let him read all the books he wanted. A turn of a card that let him win a scholarship to college. (The first person to ever go in his family.) A turn of a card that gave him the chance to meet my grandmother.

Many more turns of a card later and here I am today. 

I don’t know how or if my life would be any different had the cards been played differently. All I know is that my grandfather’s dad raised his family in that small farmhouse in Wenatchee Heights because he won a card game. 

It’s an incredible dance of chance that got you and I where we are today…the roll of the dice…the turn of a card. This is the quiet and delicate influence chance has on our life. Often overlooked until we stop and ponder its far-reaching effect.

These kinds of musings could easily lead you to throw your hands up and say, “Why bother trying? Chance is too inevitable.  Let the winds of fortune decide my fate.” But you mustn’t do that. Remember, life’s a balance.

On the other side is the bold and strong. Those are the choices you make. So be intentional. Plot a course and sail it. All while being flexible enough to appreciate when life turns a card. 

– Zac Smith, VC