Chance… for me, it’s all about the million dollars I won and ate. Now, before you get skeptical let me say, this is a true story. Perhaps, that whole chance punch line in my life began when I started college? You see, I’ve never ever wanted to do anything but make art. Writing, drawing, sculpting, making up songs – it’s all art to me, and the only thing in my entire life that I’ve ever really wanted to do. Naturally, when I went off to college my parents begged me to get something other than an art degree. “Fine,” they said, “Fine if you want to make art, but get a double major, something to fall back on in case your art career doesn’t work out.” Of course, my twenty-three year old higher reasoning prevailed, and I left college with a wonderful BFA – sculpture was my area of emphasis. But, it turns out that mom and dad were right, there weren’t a lot of jobs out in the world for sculptors. So, by the time I was twenty-five they urged, “Go back to college. Get a teaching degree. You can make art in your spare time, but at least you can have a job that pays some decent money.” Money or not, I didn’t want to make anything but art. Certainly I did not want some job where I might find myself comfortable and end up rationalizing that art could be a hobby. No. No comfort. No good job. At twenty-five I was clear – in the work arena I wanted to be miserable. And miserable I was. For the next ten years my work days began at 4:00am; that’s the hour I started to deliver newspapers. I was punctual and a real newspaper-gal-go-getter. Yep, I climbed up the career ladder of newspaper delivery. First I delivered the local paper, and then went on to deliver the more lucrative New York Times until finally I got a job delivering the luxurious five days a week Wall Street Journal. By eight o’clock in the morning I was at my second job – Dairy Mart. There I sold cigarettes, potato chips, an occasional gallon of milk and oodles of lottery tickets. Standing over that counter I saw many people dig into their money set aside for the light bill to buy losing after losing lottery ticket. It was sad, and except for the occasional whim I never bought a ticket. My Dairy Mart shift ended at 4:00pm in the afternoon, which left me just enough time to grab a quick nap before my third job. I taught adult education sculpture classes four nights a week. Fortunately, I only taught during the week, which left my weekend evenings free to deliver pizzas! OH! Lucky me! For ten minutes here or an hour there I made art. Unfortunately, building sculpture was expensive, so I took to drawing cartoons. Before long I was peddling my first cartoon strip all over Kentucky – without much success. I pitched ten newspaper editors before I sold my first strip. Nevertheless, for years my tenacity did not wane and each morning I would be up delivering papers, fantasizing about the day I would open hundreds of newspapers and see my work. That dream kept me warm outside at 4:00am in the middle of torrential rains or snow storms. Yes, I had five jobs, and as many bosses as my dog had titties – she had ten! For many years I never slept more that four hours a night. As you can imagine, at thirty my resolve to be miserable until I made my fortune in art was waning. I was beginning to see that perhaps my parents had a point after all, because the romance of being a struggling artist was wearing thin. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, still poor with no hope that anything would ever improve. That’s when chance happened. In the middle of my misery, rushing from one job to the next, I stopped off at a grocery store to buy something to eat. I only had fifty cents. So I bought a bag of peanut M&M’s – more nutrition with the peanuts, I thought, and these will stave off my hunger until I can get home and make a sandwich. On the drive I was hungry and the candy was good – until I came to a grey one. How strange? I wondered what was wrong with that grey M&M? Was it moldy? Maybe I shouldn’t eat it? But my tummy rumbled and after a minute of gambling on possible food poisoning – I took a chance, and popped that candy in my mouth just as I turned into the parking lot to teach. The weekend came and luckily we had a beautiful Saturday afternoon, plus I was off from Dairy Mart and I didn’t have to be into work until 5:00pm – to deliver pizzas. In a rare move I decided to clean out my jalopy of a car and give it a wash. I pulled an entire twenty gallon bag of trash out of my clunker; old newspapers, fast food containers, candy wrappers, used teaching supplies, plastic newspaper bags, an old hairbrush, wet socks – twenty gallons worth of junk. That evening I went to deliver pizzas with a delighted sense of well-being since my car was clean for the first time in nearly a year. All was well. Perhaps, I was on the right track in life? Spring in Kentucky is dependably unpredictable and biter cold days soon returned. I remember, it was a Tuesday night and I was snuggled in bed, just getting ready to drop off asleep, when the television perked my ears. An announcer said that one of the mystery M&M’s had been found and that a million dollars was going to be handed out that night on the Johnny Carson show! I watched intently as Mr. Carson asked a delighted couple, “How did you know it was the winner?” Giddy they replied, “Well – when we saw the grey color we suspected it might be a winner. But, just to be sure we opened up the bag all the way and on the inside it said that we had won!” “WHAT?!” I sat up in bed and screamed! Barefoot and pajama clad I rushed outside to my car – praying that perhaps I had missed that ONE bag when I cleaned out my car – that maybe I still had it. No. No bag. No M&M’s. No million dollars. Frankly, I had known about the hunt for the million dollar M&Ms, but it never occurred to me that I would find one. Now, I don’t recall crying about it, although I certainly regretted not getting my million. The next work day came three hours later and at 4:00am, I went off to deliver newspapers. As days passed by I slowly began to be heartened by the mishap. What finally occurred to me was that, since one good thing had appeared, there is always a chance that something else surprisingly good might come my way. BUT, I needed to believe in the chance of good things, so I could recognize them when they happen. Truthfully, that little lesson has bought me more opportunities in life than a million dollars ever could.