Fortune Comes, Fortune Goes
Hear, hear: perceive opportunity, grasp opportunity,
and don’t misjudge opportunity
Why do so many people stagnate in their lives while others, at the same time and from similar backgrounds, find their fortune? Is it their fault that fortune passes them by, that there are no opportunities in their lives? Are the others just “in the right place at the right time,” as the saying goes? Or has it something to do with perceiving and grasping opportunity when it shows itself? The following is written as an informative story for youngsters, almost as a lecture. But it could also be useful for those who struggle or stagnate in their later lives and is based on some years of experience.
Joe, still a young man, spent much of his free time sitting on a bench in the town park and dreaming in a mood of utter melancholy. Life was miserable, life was boring, and there was no way out. Was that all there was to life? Was it worth continuing like that? Joe had been the employee of a large company and had done the same work—over and over—for years. He was so bored and disappointed with life that he did not do good work, and finally, he was let go. He was a little afraid. How could his life continue, how could he support himself in dignity, how could he ever afford to have a family of his own?
As he was sitting in the park one sunny morning, just staring at the ground in front of him, he did not notice a wonderful appearance floating by. She looked like one of the goddesses Botticelli or another of the Italian Renaissance artists could have painted—half angel, half goddess, and almost transparent in her beauty. This was Fortuna, the goddess of good luck.
She looked at Joe and smiled. Then she waved at him with a small bouquet of flowers as if telling him to follow her.
Joe did not notice her, and she floated by, down through the park, until another person noticed her and followed her, to be led to the secret gate of happiness.
A friend of Joe’s observed the scene from a distance. He went over to Joe and asked him why he hadn’t followed Fortuna.
“Oh, I just didn’t see her,” came the answer.
“How could this happen to you?” admonished his friend, or was it Joe’s father? “You must keep your eyes open!”
Several weeks later, after autumn had come, Joe was sitting there again. Nothing had changed in his life. He was as discouraged as ever. But now, he was looking forward and to the right and left, just in case Fortuna came by again.
Little did Joe notice that Fortuna floated by behind the bench he was sitting on, where he could not see her without turning completely around. She even stopped for a moment and waved again with her beautiful flowers, inviting Joe to follow her. But he hadn’t looked around, only forward and right and left. Once again, he did not follow her. And, again, someone else in the park was the lucky one. Later, the newspapers wrote about the big invention that person had announced on that day, how he had started a company with that idea and was on his way to a fulfilled life.
The same friend had observed this second scene with Fortuna. This time, he became almost angry at Joe.
“You cannot just search for Fortuna where you choose. You must look all around, especially where you’ve never looked before. And when you see her—if you ever do again—you must grab her and hold on. Don’t let her disappear again. Hold on to her. Next time, make her lead you to the secret gate of happiness.”
Joe was crushed. He had missed another big chance.
Some time later, he was again sitting on his accustomed park bench. Winter had started, and life had become particularly bleak for Joe. Fortuna, however, showed compassion. For yet a third time, she came by and approached him—this time from the side. She even stopped and tapped him on the shoulder. Joe was electrified. He quickly turned around and, almost instinctively, grasped her so she could not disappear again. Gently she led him until they came to the gate of happiness. She opened it and showed him a part of the park he had never perceived before. There, high on a hill stood a beautiful building.
“This will be yours, if you walk up the hill,” Fortuna said.
Joe did not let his chance go by. He walked up the hill, even though he had to struggle. It took him much longer than he had thought it would. He had all the perseverance to deserve the prize. Finally, he had found his approach to a fulfilled life.
Is this the end of the story? Not quite yet!
The devil had also seen what was going on and how Fortuna selected some lucky winners. He thought to himself, “I can do that, too, and gain my own benefit from that.”
Next day, the devil dressed up like Fortuna. The beautiful veil didn’t quite fit over his horns, and the wide skirt didn’t quite hide his big claw foot. But there he went.
Sure enough, he saw someone sitting on a park bench and dreaming, actually looking quite happy and well situated in life. This was just the right person for the devil. He danced back and forth before that person, showing off some beautiful jewel-decorated boxes.
That person who observed the devil was a bit naïve and, furthermore, overly greedy. Without investigating any further what kind of fellow the devil was and whether those boxes were decorated with real jewels or just fakes, he (or was it a “she”?) grasped for the boxes. The devil did not let go and guided that person to the gate of disappointment. Once there, he pushed the person into his own dismay while the jeweled boxes dissolved into thin air. The devil made the poor fellow surrender all his possessions before he let him go as a ruined man.
What do you make of this?
You may be a student in a big college and not know what profession to pursue in life—or you may be an employee in a big company and not know whether you will ever have a chance to move up.
Years later, you may read that some students at the same university came up with a brilliant idea, started a company, and became very successful. Or you may hear that somebody from the same division of the company had a brilliant business idea, was promoted, and became the president or changed employment and prospered thereafter or changed from being an engineer and, after a couple of years of demanding evening studies, became a successful patent lawyer.
Why did these things happen for them and not for you?
Very few lives ever pass totally without opportunity. You have to look around for opportunities. You have to perceive opportunities; you have to show initiative in grasping an opportunity; and you have to develop perseverance in pursuing an opportunity. Then you will succeed.
Sometimes several opportunities may be open to you at once, and you have to choose. That may be difficult, but whatever you choose, if suitable and if pursued with perseverance, may lead to a fulfilled life. Just go ahead, and don’t just sit there.
However—there is this big however—you must avoid the false opportunities, the temptations presented by the devil, the opportunities you don’t know anything about, and the get-rich-quick stock tips from strangers. You must be knowledgeable. You must show judgment, and not fall for the temptations that will take all you have away from you and leave you ruined. That, too, has happened to many others before you.
Now, get up, learn something useful about the area in which you are interested, and develop your judgment; hone it. Then look for the opportunity, grasp it with initiative, courage, and determination, and persevere until Fortuna fulfills her promise.
If, however, you find out that you have fallen for the devil, know how to get out and start over once more with another and better opportunity. Fortuna is still around and ready if you are.