Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Top 10 Superstitions

Ok, I'm not going to rush off on some kind of anti religion anti belief thing. This is not for that. I am instead going to look into those little superstitions that I've seen people do when they really want to be lucky, avoid bad luck, or when they want to divine the future.

The future is interesting to us because we really don't know what it is. If you have a method of divining it, then you really have some special powers and hey, why aren't you rich? Because If I had a measurable method of divining the actions of the coming days, you can be sure I would be buying up whatever stock would appreciate the most or picking that lottery number right as the lottery hits it's peak. Of course as any good fortune teller will tell you (myself included) the future doesn't work that way.

The desire for luck or more specifically the happenstance of chance falling in your favor is nearly omnipresent, luck comes in a couple of flavors. Luck that benefits you specifically, and luck that doesn't hurt you when you should get hurt. In one case, the luck you experience is that you aren't in the hospital like escaping a car wreck. In the other, you finally caught a break and there IS a Nigerian dignitary that is waiting to give you a "large sum of currency to be received". Many of my observations originate from playing in casinos. The majority of these people are seemingly sane and otherwise rational individuals. Every game in the casino is ruled by the mathematical laws of probability. If the casino thought for a moment that there was some kind of magic involved with any of the games, they would not employ them. The only time casinos talk about luck is in terms of their patrons. They will often talk about striking it rich or getting lucky or hitting the jackpot. Jackpot by the way, comes from a poker term in a particular kind of poker called Jacks or better where a pair of Jacks are required to win the "jack"-pot. how informative...now where were we...Ahh yes, luck.

10. Step on a crack -

Nobody wants to break their mothers back. I know my mom's back has had some problems and she doesn't need me breaking it. The only reason I mention this old saw is because it was my first remembered introduction to luck/superstition. You mean to tell me that if I step on a crack I'll break my moms back?! this was fascinating to me. how is it that these cracks know who everyone's mother is? And more importantly why doesn't the city do something about it? can't they pour crackless concrete? or better yet make sidewalks out of cobblestones so we don't have to spend our mornings walking to school avoiding chiropractic peril on our moms.

9. Extra-Religion -

This is interesting because it appears that living your beliefs are not quite enough. Nearly every religion has their minimum qualifications for compliance. But the members of these religions will institute their own EXTRA requirements for proper living of a pious lifestyle. Everyone knows that heaven couldn't possibly hold you and then someone like me in it at the same time without some kind of reconciliation. So if God is all forgiving, how can he show that he favors you above me without having some kind of extra credit policy in place? It just stands to reason that every time you help someone or do a good deed that is not some how rewarded immediately, that action will fall into that gigantic bucket of 'EXTRA' blessings at the end of time. You will be showered with this bucket and lauded in front of your peers and well wishers. No there isn't any scriptural references for this because it's made up. And yet i'm sure it's the case. God wouldn't want me to suffer for nothing would he?

8. Wish on a falling star - Everyone knows that if you see a genuine falling star, you are guaranteed one wish. It can be anything of course, but the rules on star wishing are pretty vague to say the least. apparently there is no time limit on granting this wish. So if I wish for say 1 million dollars. The falling star just says 'well, over the course of your life, you will make 1 million dollars sooooo, I guess my work is done here see ya!' Darn, I gotta stop wishing for 1 million dollars

7. Bad things happen in 3's - Why is it that bad things happen in 3's. If you get a flat tire, that's 1. If you then hurt your hand while changing that tire. That's 2. If you find out that your new insurance plan has a 1500$ deductible before anything pays, that's 3. WHEW! Now I can count on no more bad things happening. Until the next one happens and starts a new cycle of 3 bad things happening. I'm waiting for it. Actually it's because by the time I've counted to 3, I've lost interest. 3 seems to be a very mystical number what with the shape of a triangle and all. Pyramid power!!! It's all about the 3.

6. My Lucky X -
This something of some permanence and usually unusual in nature but not always. Talismans are knowns to endow the bearer with strange mystical powers and rare luck. I've had many lucky things. The lucky Rabbits foot is among the most recognizable but I never owned one. I believe the standard rejoinder against the rabbits foot is 'It wasn't lucky for the Rabbit was it?'. True, but we don't think of luck in terms of others. Luck is always relative and specific to each person evaluating it. I have had lucky rocks, lucky kids meal toys, lucky casino chips, lucky dice, lucky credit cards, lucky ID cards. With so many lucky things, you'd think I would be brimming with luck. Well I am. I couldn't be much more lucky really. I'm certain that my lot in life was helped in some small way by all of those items.

5. Don't tempt fate...or...Never say 7 at the craps table
- I only became aware of this little gem when I was playing craps for the first time and said 'anything but a 7'. When I uttered these words it was as though I had said something to question the fidelity of every persons mother at the table. People were saying 'take down my bets' and removing themselves from the table. I then proceeded to roll a 7 thereby making anecdotal experience a fact (something that casino's also like). I guess that the cosmos doesn't know when you DON'T want something. Don't be an dolt and give the cosmos any ideas on how to make your life more miserable. There is a corollary to this bit of superstition. That's saying out loud what you do want in a way that sounds like you don't want it. This is because you think the Universe is an idiot and can't tell what you really want and probably doesn't understand irony. I've found this behavior comes up with people that really believe themselves to be unlucky.

4. An Itchy Palm means you will get money soon -
This one is more of a fortune teller than a lucky thing, but who doesn't want to know they are getting money? And better yet, they get advanced warning! Thank goodness. Without advanced warning, who knows what I would have done with my precipitous windfall? I may have just blown it on something that was a little bit more expensive than I could afford thus increasing my used credit and lowering my credit score. What? I couldn't qualify for the loan to buy my house? BAD LUCK. I guess I'll have to move to somewhere a little less posh.

3. Good Karma - 'What would you do with the money if you won it?' reply 'Well I'd give most of it to Charity....'. Yeah. of course you would. The Gods of luck listen to this prayer with deaf ears. I'm sure they have been fooled before by the 'look at the good I will do' ruse. NEVER AGAIN. And yet people still try it. They espouse all of the things they would do with windfall money to help those around them so naturally the Cosmos will think it fitting to give this person a large bonus because it will go to a good cause. After all the only thing better than a good person that will give all their winnings to charity is a benevolent supreme being smart enough to recognize my good intent. If I won a lottery I would probably sell my house and live on a cruise ship the rest of my life getting larger and larger on wonderful cruise food until my arteries had hardened to the point that it acutally sunk the ship. God himself could not sink this ship indeed. Actually, If I had near infinite wealth, the only way you would know about it is that I would suddenly be writing a lot more blogs because I would have a LOT more free time on my hands. And of course my cool car and several homes and the person I would hire to impersonate me in case jealous people wanted to assassinate me for being so gosh darn lucky. If I do anything good with the money, it would be clearly coincidental. God knows this. That's why I'm not winning.

2. Never Walk under a ladder -
This is one I heard very soon after hearing about breaking my moms back. Breaking a mirror was 7 years of bad luck is in there along with the black cat that crosses my path. Un-Lucky Number 13. These are the good old symbols of back luck that seem to always come out at Halloween (except the ladder one I guess...Boo! I'm a ladder!). They seem to have originated from genuine superstitions, but still they all seem kind of silly. And yet to this day the 13th floor does not appear on some elevators leaving you to wonder if they just painted a 14 on the 13th floor or did they make the floor and skip it altogether. Breaking a mirror is 7 years bad luck because mirrors are made of glass and it seems like it will be about 7 years before you get all the shards cleaned up. Walking under a ladder isn't unlucky, it's stupid. One false move and all of the sudden you have the guy on top of the ladder coming down on top of your head. Sheesh. I'm not sure about the black cat. I guess you have to believe in witchcraft for that one to hold any water. I like cats. they are easy to take care of and the keep mice away.

1. Don't Jinx it!!! - This is the most common form of luck drawing that I've ever seen it is very similar to the Don't tempt fate bit above. It happens EVERYWHERE and with very normal people. This is the opposite of wishing someone good luck and many times can be counter to that form of luck. This involves nobody recognizing that the cosmos has shined upon you and you got away with something that normally you shouldn't have. If the cosmos hears that it has been unfairly giving you good fortune, it will surely stop. For example, in Tennis, this is often used as a mental strategy to get someone off of their serve. during the court change, you mention. "Wow, it doesn't seem like you've missed a serve". They are breaking the rule of don't Jinx it. They are saying out loud the thing that is happening that is giving you fortune. Then you start thinking about it and you start serving more poorly because you are paying attention to it. Some people have modified this piece of luck such that they are able to whisper what they want to keep happening. This is very risky behavior because even though the Universe is old, it doesn't mean it's hard of hearing.

As always! Thanks for reading. If you have any ideas for top 10's I would love to hear em!