The following short passage comes from Live by Night by Dennis Lehane, a book I'm reading on vacation. Lehane is author of a dozen novels, including Mystic River, all set around the Boston area.
The time here is the 1920s. The son, Joe, is a small-time crook who has been beaten to within an inch of his life by a couple of gangsters. He's now being transferred to jail from the hospital, and his father comes for a visit . . .
"People don't fix each other, Joseph. And they never become anything but what they've always been."
Joe said, "I don't believe that."
"Don't? Or won't?" His father closed his eyes. "Every breath, son, is luck." He opened his eyes and they were pink in the corners "Achievement? Depends on luck -- to be born in the right place at the right time and be of the right color. To live long enough to be in the right place at the right time to make one's fortune. Yes, yes, hard work and talent make up the difference. They are crucial, and you know I'd never ague different. But the foundation of all lives is luck. Good or bad. Luck is life and life is luck. Don't waste yours. It's leaking from the moment it lands in your hands."
Joe's jaw clenched, but all he said was, "You make your luck, Dad."
"Sometimes," his father said. "But other times it makes you."