Today I was able to catch up with an old acquaintance of mine who I haven’t spoken with for several years (yay, Facebook); and he was telling me how excited he was for an upcoming interview. Things have been tough since he left New York a few years ago, and he had been forced to take laborious jobs in construction (he’s a PhD), and had been homeless twice. I was flabbergasted. I know him to be a brilliant, educated and well-spoken person, fluent in several languages and hard working. How could something like that happen?

It made me think how tenuous everyone’s situation is; how a series of unfortunate events (not the Lemony Snicket kind) at just the right time and hitting in just the right places can change everything. There are so many stories…the lottery winner who lost everything, a teenage dare that led to a family’s demise, a sex trafficking victim fighting back and losing her freedom…the list can go on and on. Similarly, it can turn back around just as quickly.

My friend and I talked some more, and I was genuinely relieved to hear that things have started to slowly turn around for him. Toward the end of our conversation, he said “I hope that your life is as wonderful as I see on those pictures you post from time to time.”

“It is,” I replied, “I’ve been so lucky.”

Lucky that I married a wonderful man. Lucky that I have two beautiful, healthy children. Lucky that we have a strong support group of friends and family. Lucky that we have nutritious food, a safe home and warm clothes. Lucky that we have good jobs. Lucky that I can pursue my passion. Lucky that we have the opportunities we have through education and hard work.

Be thankful for where you are today, but keep thinking about tomorrow–life can change in an instant, and nothing is guaranteed. If you want to make a change but are afraid to rock the boat–grab that life jacket and start moving. All you need is a little bit of luck.

Emily Behnke

Formerly a high level professional in a scientific organization, Ms. Behnke now owns and operates an organization and design company focused on living well in small spaces.