My stupid human trick is that I’m amazingly good at finding four-leaf clovers.
If I’m out and about and enjoying the outdoors, I can usually spy a few in my travels each weekend throughout the spring and summer. Once I found 11 in one sitting.
Turns out that while the lucky charms are rare, they’re caused by a genetic mutation in the common three-leaf clover. Each leafy growth is part of a bigger plant, so chances are high that once you find one, if you keep looking, you’re likely to find a few more.
When I was younger I’d will myself into discovering them by telling myself that while the elusive treasures were out of the ordinary, finding one was only as unlikely as coming upon a set of twins shopping at the mall. Then I’d carefully scan the soft green grass, and just like that I’d see four leaves anchored to one stem, fluttering in the breeze.
Please don’t ask me where I came up with that analogy. I was a very weird kid.
I think I have one of those brains that is prewired to pick up on anomalies. That’s what makes me able to proofread copy for a living—things that contradict the normal flow jump right up into my line of vision.
Either that or I’m filled with that fabled old-fashioned Irish luck. Or malarkey.
In any event, there’s a whole line of lucky clovers—wrapped in transparent tape to preserve their good vibes—lining the hutch above my computer at work, giving me inspiration.
I also like to tuck my leafy finds inside the pages of books that I’ve already read. Then, I pass them on to someone else to enjoy so they can turn a page and feel the twinkle of good fortune come tumbling down upon their laps.
I have no idea how I developed this predilection, but I used to love plucking the talismans from the meadow surrounding the softball field when my daughters were in a slump and they and their teammates needed a little boost.
It was fun to see the other players’ eyes get big when they touched the tiny plant to get some mystical mojo. My own daughters’ eyes were mainly rolling at this point, but I’m quite sure that deep down inside they thought their mom was pretty cool.
Then they’d take that jolt of clover confidence to the plate and swing for the fences.
There was no softball for our family this year, as the end of high school and the postponement of the season for my youngest child meant that everyone in this house has aged-out of organized sports, and college athletics just wasn’t in the cards.
I haven’t found any four-leaf clovers yet this spring, and it hasn’t felt like a particularly lucky year.
Nothing has turned out the way we hoped or planned, and all our routines were stripped away by the specter of the virus.
And yet we’re very, very lucky.
No one in this household has gotten sick. And we have everything we need right here. We have food and water and Wi-Fi and a big backyard and a driveway full of cars to take us wherever we need to go if we ever have an itch to break free from these walls.
But all those creature comforts pale in comparison to the fact that we have each other. Don’t get me wrong: Being cooped up under one roof with so much adult and adolescent angst has not exactly been a 24/7 delight. Yet it’s been exactly what we needed.
While I wouldn’t say that I’ve relished all of the dishwashing that has punctuated this 14-week home quarantine, it’s been very nice to cook together and enjoy meals as a family—a habit we got out of years ago when individual schedules began to take over our lives.
Lately, we’ve even been going on group hikes. Although their ears are filled with Air Pods to tune us out on the trail, our girls are actually consenting to be seen in public with my husband and me (from the proper social distance). That new development has been pretty special.
But what has been nicest is all the conversations we’ve had about what is going on outside our doors. It’s so enlightening for me to hear my children’s points of view about the state of the world and how they intend to navigate it.
They are smart and engaged and they have plenty of insights and ideas that make me proud to know them. Having these lively evening discussions with them has been a remarkable gift that I will cherish for a long time.
But for the stay-at-home order, I’m not sure we would have made the time for this kind of thoughtful dialogue.
We’ve made it a priority to enjoy rest and relaxation and some cheeky shenanigans too, because my Irish grandma once gave me a tea towel embroidered with Celtic knots and a reminder that a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.
When we’re so busy running from here to there and we’re distracted by all of the trappings of the modern American existence, it’s easy to forget that little bits of wonder are all around us just waiting to be recognized and celebrated.
Sometimes you just have to slow down, take a breath, and look around to discover how truly lucky you are.
And when you are filled with those feelings, be sure to pass them along.
Because good luck multiplies when you share it.
I swear that’s no blarney.