Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky for some

I love Friday the thirteenth, but not because I'm anti-superstition. I do understand intellectually that superstition is a primitive impulse but I do seem to be subject to a wide range of superstitious beliefs - or at least practices - despite that. I've always thought of the 13th as a lucky day. I quite often choose to fly on a Friday the 13th because one can get good seats and you know everyone is being extra careful.

When I was younger - as a teenager, a pipe-smoking overcoat-wearing rebel - I would of course deliberately walk under ladders. But the truth is, you have to kind of believe in it to laugh in the face of it, don't you? It would have been best to just not care about the huge weight of trivial caution and counsel that one inherits as part of being a human social being. Of course it takes one a while to be able to tell the difference between sage advice and irrational nonsense, or to make your choice anyway, about which of the advice and nonsense to carry round as your own personal baggage.

I seem to be able to pick up new superstitions or cultural habits quite easily. After living in Korea, I won't blow my nose in public anymore and I get a bit creeped by the number 4 (tall buildings there often don't have a fourth floor). Ever since I lived in Whanganui, I haven't washed teatowels with the rest of the laundry and I won't allow combs or brushes to be put on tables. From my Scottish forebears I've inherited a particular horror of "new shoes on the table".
Superstition and culture are quite closely intertwined aren't they. My parents celebrated every 13th as though it was their own personal anniversary of the day they met, and later chose to marry. So naturally I was raised to like the number 13. Still do, even though today hasn't been crash-hot so far, given there's a blocked drain, a close to overflowing septic tank and an absentee landlord. Grrr.

1 comment:

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Just as I published this post, a text came through letting me know that the drains and tanks will be cleared today after all, and not next Wednesday.

There. See? Luck!

(A little like the "luck" that is attributed to people who narrowly escape death after freak accidents, and end up in hospital with only mild injuries. They are frequently counselled to use their "luck" to buy a Lotto ticket. It always makes me ponder the fact that it would have been far luckier not to have been involved in the freak accident in the first place...)