On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig made his "Luckiest Man Alive" speech. As most of you know he had to leave baseball due to what is now known as Lou Gehrig's disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Not much was known about ALS at the time. In his speech to the Yankee fans in the stadium he told them he had a bad break but went on to tell them that he was still the luckiest man alive. He attributed that not to his plethora of major league records but to his fellow players and his fans.
The other day I was fishing with a buddy on Lake Julia. It was a gorgeous day with just a little wind, sunshine, and the fish were biting. I said to him, "Mark, I am a very lucky man." Mark said, "No, you have been greatly blessed."
Each of us is equally blessed when you take time to think about it. If you had to list eight reasons why you are the luckiest person on earth, what would you say? Maybe I can help you.
First, there is no one else quite like you. You are truly unique. You have been given some gifts that make you what you are. It may be a smile, the way you dress, the way you talk, the way you conduct your business, the way you make friends, the way you carry yourself or 100 other things that make you, you. Stop and think about the gifts you have. You have as many as anyone else. So, what are your special gifts?
Second, there is someone out there who loves you more than you will ever realize. It could be a special friend, a spouse, a son or daughter, grandfather or grandmother, aunt or uncle or cousin. There is someone who loves you. This makes you very lucky and very blessed. Of course, if you are a religious/spiritual person, you know the Creator loves you beyond your ability to comprehend the extent of his love. So, who loves you?
Third, you have undergone many hardships in your life. You could have lost a son or daughter, maybe your spouse passed away, you may have been fired from your job or had to deal with a drug problem. You may not have much money and cannot buy the things you need. In spite of these hardships and trials, you are here today to greet the morning sunshine, to take a walk in the park or visit with a friend or make a phone call or eat a dish of ice cream. You are here today. You are living. You are resilient. Today is a new day. What will you do today that helps you realize the fact that you can relish this day?
Fourth, you have a purpose in life. You might not have realized this but you do. If you were not here, our world would not be as good. You are of value to the human race. You may be the head of a company, a teacher, a parent, a clergy, a student, a patient in a care center. Everyone has a purpose for being here. Consider yourself lucky if you know what this purpose is and if this purpose adds meaning to your life. If you don’t know what your purpose is, consider all of the people who care about you. Every day you are on this earth, makes them happy. You live for yourself and for them. Maybe, just maybe the sole purpose for your being is to make the ones around you happy. Don’t you feel lucky that you can do this?
Fifth, you have unique and interesting stories to share. Each of them has a message. Whether you are young or old, we all have stories to tell and we have learned something from them that help us become who we are. What stories can you tell?
Sixth, aren’t we lucky that we can learn something new every day? Think of what you can learn today. Think of what you can learn in this hour or in the next few minutes. You can pick up a newspaper, listen to TV, work on the computer, listen to a conversation, read a book or just think about things. What new thing can you learn today that you didn’t know before? Life is about learning and growing and using the brain the Creator gave us. We are truly lucky to have it.
Seventh, you are alive. Consider how many years you have lived. Multiply this by 365. For me, it’s 28,470 days. Now take those days and multiply them by 24. For me, this equals 683,280 hours. Now take these hours and multiply by 60 seconds. I have lived for 40,996,800 seconds. I recently wrote a column about a “second” and told you how much you can do in a second. You can say "thank you" to someone. You can turn off the TV and your computer. You can call someone on your iPhone. You can make a decision. How many of these 40 million seconds have I wasted? The point is, I am alive and well and will live many more seconds. I am pretty lucky and so are you.
In our down times it is hard to believe we, you and I, are the luckiest people on earth. I have given you seven reasons why, but there is one more. Lou Gehrig’s nickname was the "Iron Horse" because of his durability. Yes, but he had ALS. Yes, but he still considered himself the luckiest man on earth. Each of us can do the same. The only thing that stops us is ourselves. So, to one "Iron Horse" from another, let’s keep on enjoying being the luckiest person on earth.
Note: I recently attended a dedication ceremony for the passing of Dr. Alice Lindgren, internationally acclaimed biology professor at BSU. I was lucky to know her as were her students and associates. I have a very strong feeling that when Alice walked and talked among us, she would have considered herself the luckiest person in the world.
Riddle: What can be measured but has no length, width or thickness? Answer: The temperature. We can’t measure how lucky we are but we sure can feel it and we sure can show it.
The eighth reason why each of us is so lucky is because we get to see our kids and grandkids graduate from high school. Now, that’s reason enough to consider ourselves the luckiest person on earth.
John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.