Passive Karma’s Gonna Get You

Do you ever think that luck can literally run out?

Portrait of my past few days:

  • Lost my iPhone
  • Got dumped.
  • My new receiver, approximately two days outside the return window, died and left me without the comfort of depressing movies and TV.

But I can’t complain, can I? The last few months my cup hath overfloweth with luck. I got through the final bit of my PhD without a hitch and landed a sweet job at the same time, all the while accomplishing assorted things on the side. The luck supply was sure to run out.

It’s like passive karma. If good things happen to come your way for a while, fate’s gotta balance that out with some chance misery.

I talk as if fate is supernatural, but it need not be. Maybe fate is just statistics. Let’s say you flip a coin 10 times and it comes up heads all 10 times. Chances are, if you flip it another 10 times, it’ll come up closer to 5 heads. This regression to the mean occurs after any unusual run; you can’t escape returning to the baseline.

Now let’s assume that the baseline of life is 50% crappy (because let’s face it, life just isn’t sunshine and rainbows. We’re not designed that way). Any time you’re running at 90% good stuff for a month, chances are that the next month is gonna have about 40%1 more crap coming your way than the month before.

Most emo math lesson ever.

The upside is that if you’re running at 10% good, chances are things will look up. Having only 10% good for your entire life is just so statistically improbable that hope is only rational.

This is assuming all is left to chance. If you’re consciously doing things to make your own life crappy, that’s all you.

On that note, looking back, getting drunk and leaving my phone in a cab isn’t exactly a chance occurrence. And relationships? Well, those are all the conscious and unconscious decisions of two people, so while their workings may be mysterious, I wouldn’t call them random.

That fucking receiver though…working one moment, not working the next. Faulty technology is all coin-flip.

1 44.4% actually, but I’d confuse people if I wrote that.





11 responses to “Passive Karma’s Gonna Get You”

  1. kimforgetta Avatar

    I feel like that sometimes too. Like, it's not my lucky time. But then, wouldn't that be the somewhat like the “best of all possible worlds argument? We have to have the bad to have the good. Maybe you'll find your phone and your soul mate tomorrow!


  2. Phronk Avatar

    True, maybe the bad makes the good gooder.
    And maybe I'll find my soul mate when my soul mate finds my phone for me!


  3. EVILFLU Avatar

    Well crap…I just lost my big long comment :[ it basically said “Sounds like you've got a bit of my luck. Cheer up friend…yatta yatta….it can only get better…yatta yatta…or something”


  4. Cal Avatar

    “This regression to the mean occurs after any unusual run; you can't escape returning to the baseline.”

    Is this how you talked to your girlfriend? Yeah, bad luck and chance is the only way to explain why you got dumped.


  5. Dan Avatar

    1. It's not a receiver, it's a digital box. You are with Rogers, not Bell. They can be fixed so don't write it off until you speak with a Rogers field tech. You know one actually, so don't go all emo too soon.
    2. I tried to send you a text today to ask if you'd found your phone yet. Yes, I did almost hit send…..
    3. Happiness is relative. Just keep lowering the bar so the next time something shitty happens it won't seem so bad. Got hit by a car? Cool, it's a good bar story!!! Dumped by a girlfriend? Well thank god, I've been wondering if I should be dating men anyways!!!!! Fired? Great, time to start working out again!!!
    See, all sorts of opportunity for positivity (it's a real word..)
    4. To quote NPH:'When I get sad, I stop being sad and start being awesome instead. True story.'
    5. Do it.


  6. Erin Avatar

    Yep, absolutely. When an entire year passes by without someone dying, I start to get MIGHTY nervous. I'm coming up on one year with no deaths in April so something really fucked up is just around the corner, I'm pretty sure.


  7. Hey Lady! Avatar

    Isn't it Billy Zane in “Titanic” that says “A real man makes his own luck”? I think that's what that book “The Secret” is about.

    I think Dan has the right idea, it's all about perspective. I don't think there's such a thing as “luck”.


  8. Phronk Avatar

    EvilFlu: It sounds like it was a very nice comment. Thank you. 🙂

    Cal: Hey, nerdiness is in these days. Chicks dig it.

    Dan: No, it's a receiver. As in an AV receiver. Not the Rogers box.

    And your text could've worked if I got my number back, so THAT part of your comment wasn't so dumb. Oh, and I think the last text I ever sent on my long lost phone was calling you a retard. So, feel special.

    Erin: I'm very sorry for your inevitable upcoming loss. I'm still at less than a year without a major death, so at least I have that going for me. (?)

    Hey Lady! Ah yes, Billy Zane is wise. True stuff…and I don't believe in luck in the supernatural sense either. But chance does play a role in everything, and some times chance is better to you than others. What we make of it does matter more though.


  9. Forest City Fashionista Avatar

    I'm not a big believer in the concept of “luck”, however, I do believe in Karma. So who did you screw over last month? If it makes you feel any better, I found out this week I'm being evicted from the cheap apartment I've lived in for 20 years so my landlord can rip it apart and then charge twice as much for it. I'd take an inexpensive, great apartment close to downtown over a relationship any day…


  10. Tatiana Avatar

    We should all be somewhat statistically average, but I do know people that have pretty crappy lives as far as luck goes. Sounds like you're having a normal downswing, nothing to worry about. Phones and girlfriends are totally overrated anyhow.


  11. littlest roro. Avatar

    I don't know if I'd follow the advice of Billy Zane.
    Where the hell is he?


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