Luck of the Draw

I was watching a documentary last week about a family living in the Appalachian region of West Virginia: “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia”.

The family is filled with hard drinkers, violent criminals and more than its fair share of drug addicts.

Most are addicted to everything from meth and cocaine to cigarettes and pot. In most cases the family members have more tattoos than teeth.

The term most of us would use to describe the family would almost certainly be, “white trash”. They’re either coal miners, or more often than not, unemployed and collecting disability when they’re far from disabled. 

At one point during the documentary I looked at my wife and said, “you know this could’ve easily been us, right?”

The family, and therefore the conditions, we’re born into is driven purely by chance. We could be born white, black, Hispanic, rich, poor, and we could be born in any part of the world.

For me personally, I was born as a white male in the United States in what would be a stretch to describe as a “middle class” family. Still, as Warren Buffett says, I hit the genetic lottery. 

The people in this documentary, in contrast, started out at an enormous disadvantage. The kids shown in the film were born into poverty and as a result have picked up on all the destructive habits of those around them; the cycle has continued uninterrupted for generations.

There are those, of course, who escape this life and go on to better things. One such family member did exactly that and was highlighted in the documentary. But he’s clearly the exception.

For every person that makes it out, there are 10 more who just accept their fate, and in far too many cases actually embrace it.

They either don’t realize they have options or don’t have the mindset to pursue those options. They have accepted their place at the table. 

There’s probably very little anyone can do to change the life of families like the Whites. But on a more personal level, know that there are always people watching. You may or may not realize it but they’re watching what you do and what you’ve done to get to where you are.

I was one of those who from a very early age watched not only the people around me but those I read about. I paid attention to their habits, their mindset, and the path they took to get to where they are.

Not all of their paths were easy. Many dug themselves out of holes some of us would find hard to imagine.

But they succeeded in spite of these challenges.

I also paid attention to those like the Whites who repeatedly made destructive choices and the impact those choices had on their lives. Sometimes we can learn so much more from those who provide us with the worst examples. 

For me personally, I hope I can provide the same road map for others as so many did for me. This isn’t an arrogant statement or goal at all.

It’s also not me thinking I have more to offer than anybody else. It’s merely the realization that for others, most notably those in the early stages of their careers and are entering “real life”, there are examples everywhere if they just look.

I can admittedly offer more than my fair share of examples, some good and some downright terrible, as i’m sure most of you can.

But I figure if I can be open about not only my successes but my multiple failures, someone else just might be watching and using those examples as a road map to get to where they want to be.


4 thoughts on “Luck of the Draw

  1. Totally agree… that’s one reason I still enjoy blogs over IG… I love to learn from others’experiences for motivation or to confirm my reasons for making choices I’ve made throughout my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I Jen, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment 😊


  2. Hi Rick
    Firstly- great post.
    Secondly – I would love to see the documentary.

    I dont think your goal to help others is arrogant.
    You have a story, so do the Whites.

    One of the reasons I love Autobiographies and biographies so much is that you see how someone interacted with people, dealt with situations, opportunities and challenges during their life, whether that led to success, tragedy or moments of both.

    We hold those stories up like mirrors to our own lives.
    Sometimes they act as lessons – things to avoid, and things to aspire to or to help us.
    Other times we say, you know what, by seeing someone else’s thought process in, we can actually (finally) spell out our own processes clearly.

    Just like i imagine you experienced when you watched the Whites.
    I’m sure it was no accident on the part of the producers.

    Keep up the great work, sir.

    Always appreciated



    1. Thank you Shaun. Agree with your summary completely. So interesting to see how others live and the choices they make, good and bad. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙌


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