The philosophical concept of Fortune’s Wheel – (not to be confused with the Nicky Campbell-hosted ITV gameshow “Wheel of Fortune”) – was a huge deal if you were medieval.
It was a way of thinking that explained away that thing where sometimes your whole life is green-lit – every email goes “Yes!” “Would you like to…?” or “Here, have a £1,000.” and sometimes everything is no, sorry. Sorry, no. Apologies. I’m sorry to have to tell you that… Or, quite often, absolutely no response at all. Like you don’t exist.
Because the thing is that sometimes you are at the top of Fortune’s Wheel and sometimes you are at the bottom. Medieval and ancient minds envisaged it as a literal wheel where you were either at the top, going down, at the bottom, or going up. There are some hilarious illustrations available online, such as the one below:
I am talking about this only because it is at times a useful concept to bear in mind to explain why everything is going so badly at any given time. Or, why everything is going well.
The modern way is to “make things happen” – we are all American now, we all make our own luck. Don’t we? Don’t we just Snapchat and Tweet and LinkedIn our way to certain success? How about reaching out to some influencers to collaborate on a digital app that will break the fourth wall of the taxi/fast food delivery? (It’s called Uberoo and it’s a taxi service that is also a mobile kitchen so you can eat a yumbun while being driven to your creative space. There’s WiFi so you can Instagram the shit out of your experience.)
If all fails why don’t you just sit in a corner with a copy of The Secret and cosmic order yourself some fulfilment and happiness, you non-inspired, lazy, non-modern douchebag?
But the thing is that sometimes even when you are trying to make your own luck, it doesn’t work. You’re shuddering with bad energy; you’re at the bottom of Fortune’s Wheel. You’re toxic.
This is where I am now. I seem to have a Teflon coating for anything positive. Every email is no, sorry. Or there is just deafening silence. (This is not some tacit admission that I voted Leave, by the way.)
I have reached the point where I feel like I’m in a Superhero movie, at the moment where the superhero looks about him with wide, horrified eyes as the reality of his new superpowers dawns (he has just blown up the TV by merely thinking about it, or flicked the fridge out of the window). The difference is that I am looking about me, wide-eyed and horrified at my new – temporary – power of turning everything to absolute shit.
I’m not sitting about feeling sorry for myself though. Well, not much. Because that’s the thing about Fortune’s Wheel – it comes back around eventually. The thing to do is to sit it out and wait and not despair. To fall to despair was a great thought crime in the middle ages, as it played havoc with social cohesion.
Consider the artist Clara Drummond, who submitted a portrait of the same person three times to the BP Portrait Award, which if you don’t know is like the Crufts or the Oscars of portrait painting. She submitted a portrait of the same sitter twice to the awards and was shown in the awards exhibition (this in itself is a great honour) but didn’t win. But she didn’t throw everything in the bin and stamp off to work in a shop – a thing I am sorely tempted to do – she just submitted a different portrait of the same person a third time, and this time she triumphed.
It’s an uplifting modern example of Fortune’s Wheel. Well, that’s how I see it anyway.
Me? I am doing the only sensible thing and have started reading emails from behind a cushion. I’ve also stopping sending any unsolicited emails at all and am doing a lot of elaborate catering. At the moment I am making a salmon en croute for eight people and and three-tiered birthday cake. It’s the only rational reaction!
How about you? Where are you on Fortune’s Wheel right now?