Zia Hassan

One Paddle In Water One In The Air

In the last year and a half, I changed careers, became a father, and bought a house with my wife.

Each of these experiences went pretty smoothly. My child is healthy and exceedingly happy. The house is perfect for us right now, and my job is flexible, rewarding, and fun.

Sometimes I wake up and think: _I am so lucky to live this life._And then right after that, I also wonder how it’s possible to be so lucky (beyond the “luck” I have from being privileged in many ways, that is). Surely this type of joy doesn’t come without a cost. Is there some kind tragedy lurking around the corner, and this luckiness is actually deception? Is the other shoe going to fall?

Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve it. It makes me stressed during moments where I should probably feel gratitude and joy.

And then I remember.

I remember all of the communication struggles and the resulting systems that built my marriage. I remember the pain of every misunderstanding in the beginning, the years of trial, error, forgiveness, and heart break. In a long relationship, it’s like having many mini-relationships over time due to how much you change as people.

I remember being dissatisfied for six years at a job that wasn’t right for me. I remember crying trying to decide what to do next. I remember trusting my intuition and going against the grain to become a teacher. And I remember the half year of pain in detaching from my teaching career. Of ending something I dearly loved but couldn’t continue to do in that moment.

I remember wanting to trust that the initial feeling we had about our house was the right one. And how that complete trust in our intuition was what it took to make the leap and put down the money needed to buy property. I remember moving every box by hand, in the middle of the night, by myself because my wife was pregnant.

I remember the work it took to even be in the right place to have a kid.

I remember. It wasn’t luck. It was work. On top of a foundation of privilege.

It’s true that this type of joy doesn’t come without a cost. There were numerous costs.

And of course, it’s life, so it’s not without balance. It’s like joy and tragedy are mirror images; not two captains but two boatmen, rowing the boat with a double-sided paddle from opposite sides. When one paddle is in the water, the other is in the air.

It’s this phenomenon that we refer to as luck. When the paddle is up, it feels like we didn’t ever have to work for it. And when the paddle is in the water, it feels like we will never make it out alive.

But row on, we must.