"Luck affects everything" —Ovid
Pic: Wikimedia Commons
I. All that Glitters is not Gold
"What many people don’t realize is that family wealth can be a curse," Deborah Jacobs writes in Forbes. "It was for me as a member of the family that founded Georgia-Pacific Corporation."
Jacobs goes on to note how she wasted away her "20s, living as a hippie, experimenting with drugs, sex, and rock and roll."
Sure, to most of us born on the outside looking in at those golden cradles of the children born with silver spoons in their mouths, such a golden start to life appears to glitter. Ahhh, but all that glitters is not gold!
"The biggest curse of intergenerational wealth for me and many other people is the illusion that you don't have to do much with your life," Jacobs notes. "You might want to and you might make the effort, but you don’t have the same pressure to earn enough to live on. And that takes away a lot of the incentive to find meaningful work."
Yet Jacobs is by no means the only person to have noted the gift and the curse seemingly attached to being born into wealth.
Drew Barrymore epitomized the notion of a “child star.” Born into the star-studded “Barrymore family of actors,” Barrymore was literally a star at just 11 months (popular dog food commercial).
Not only did Barrymore star in E.T.—the highest-grossing film of the entire decade—but she also found herself showered with gifts and awards.
Ahhh, but there was only one problem for Barrymore:
Everything has a price to be paid, but not always in money. —Kiran
For all the wealth and fame showered upon Barrymore at such a young age, she had to pay an enormous price. After all, Barrymore famously graced the cover of People magazine accompanied by the stunning headline—"Little Girl Lost."
"She started drinking at 9, smoking pot at 10 and using cocaine at 12," read the incredible magazine cover.
In short, from Jacobs to Barrymore . . . Life appears to whisper:
It's better to be born lucky than rich.
II. Obama—Born Lucky, not Rich
Given that Barack Obama holds the distinction of having become the first Black president in history, when Time magazine unveils its "person of the century" in its year-end issue in 2099, in all likelihood Obama will grace the cover.
As for how Obama pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in history, the former president—armed with his trademark humility—merely kept it real like an old pair of dirty sneakers.
“When you think about me being president of the United States, it was quite unlikely,” Obama confessed to a group of young African leaders. “Some of it had to do with just chance. It was luck.”
In case you were wondering why the words "chance" and "luck" seemingly shadowed Obama's every word while back in the Motherland, pardon, in his case the "Fatherland" (Obama Sr.), perhaps Barry—while on stage—not only had "dreams from my father" but also harbored "dreams from my brother," too.
Whereas Lady Luck seemingly smiled on Barack Obama from the outset, she apparently turned her nose up at George Obama, the future president's younger brother.
“You and Barack Obama had the same father,” an interviewer once said to George, “but completely different worlds. How would you compare your world compared to his world?
The interviewer expected a reply long and sour, but George Obama kept it short and sweet:
That’s easy! He’s in the first world. I’m in the third world.
Whereas Barack grew up on the beautiful, sandy beaches of Hawaii, which formed the backdrop of his upbringing, George was born in the slums, reared knee-deep in poverty and left standing ankle-deep in drugs.
Barack had a white, loving mother who would not only earn her Ph.D. in anthropology but also saw to it Obama pursued higher education. That is to say: Harvard graduate → Senator → President.
As for why the race of Barack's mother is pertinent to the discussion, perhaps being of mixed ancestry went a long way towards ensuring Obama would one day make history. ... Perhaps.
In short, whereas Lady Luck smiled brighter than the Honolulu sun on one Obama, she greeted the other Obama by turning into the jealous clouds that blocked his sun.
In Closing: Counting Your Blessings Before Counting Your Money
Given that we mortals get to choose neither our birthdays nor death-days, who’s to say we get to choose how we’ll run life’s race between the starting blocks and the finish line?
For the above reason, when the press attempted to shower Einstein with the title “genius,” he abruptly set them straight:
I claim credit for nothing! Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player. — Albert Einstein
Armed with the above insight, perhaps wisdom dictates counting your blessings before counting your money.
After all, it is better to be born lucky than rich.