I have a university education. I have a reasonable grasp of statistics, probability, causality, and reality. I’m a little ashamed to admit that despite all this, I am a remarkably superstitious person.
Don’t be thinking I’m one of those strange creepy folks who doesn’t change undies and refuses to shave during the playoff season. I always smell lovely and my legs are only furry when it’s winter and I need the warmth. I just like to participate in silly little rituals that are supposed to being me good luck, despite knowing better.
I don’t buy into bad luck omens. Black cats are adorable and as good for petting as any other kitty, and spilled salt is just a mess on the counter and a sad waste of seasoning power. But I don’t dare laugh in the face of possible good luck and miss out on anything fun by ignoring lucky charms or mocking good-luck rites.
I pick up pennies. I poke at the lawn and count leaves on clovers. I have a beckoning cat figurine in the kitchen to bring us prosperity. More importantly than all these, I make wishes. So many wishes. I eagerly use birthday candles, coins in fountains, and wishbones as vehicles to get my wishes out in the world where they have a chance at coming true. There’s also the game of touching something blue when all the numbers on the clock are the same (with bonus extra wish strength when it’s 11:11), and wishing under a train bridge while a train is whizzing by overhead. A folded chip, a stray eyelash, a white fluffy dandelion – wish, wish, wish!
|Lucky Cat looking for a high-five
Somewhere along the way, I became very particular about my wishes, wording them very carefully to avoid a Monkey’s Paw situation where the wish comes true with a horrible twist. Sure, I’ll be a millionaire after the accident settlement, but I’ll be a vegetable and never get a chance to swim in my new money bin. To avoid any sneaky loopholes like that, my wishes end up sounding like the fine print in contest rules, so I need to have them thought out and ready ahead of time, or I may panic and flub my chance when a wish opportunity arrives.
Of course, there’s not really any such thing as luck, good or bad. I know that the world rolls on thanks to chemistry and physics and biology, and tossing a penny down a well isn’t going to affect the course of my life in a tangible way. It’s worth doing, though, because it gives me hope. As long as I’m wishing, it means I have something to wish for
. If I ever reach a point when I can’t even think up a wish for the morning star, it will mean I’m too depressed to even hope for better, and that will be a dark day. Playing the little wishing games, looking for four-leaf clovers; good-luck rites give me the feeling that maybe if I hope enough and collect enough good in my life, then I’ll have a little bit of control over the uncontrollable. Because in the end, all I can control is myself and my attitude. Looking for the lucky things is like looking for the good in the world, and that has to be a good philosophy.
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