I have learned the hard way what happens when you fly in the face of bad luck. I once disregarded a gypsy selling lucky heather and within minutes had been run over by a man on a bicycle and smashed a picture frame I had just bought. As it turned out the lucky heather would have been cheap at twice the price but I learned my lesson well. These days, any gypsy crossing my path can pretty much count on me buying their entire selection of wares. Rather that than incur the wrath of Lady Luck.
I don’t like magpies either and a mere glimpse of that jinxed lone one can kill my day stone dead. As soon as I fail to see its mate, despite scouring the skies and every possible hiding place, I know I might as well just go back to bed and forget the rest of the day because no good is going to come of it.
Time is another strange one; I only like to leave the house if the clock hand is on a definite number. I would rather be late than leave the house at 7:16, it has to be 7:15 or 7:20 or my day will be jinxed. In fact, thinking about it I have lots of number and letter quirks; even numbers feel luckier than odd ones and in cinemas if I don’t sit in rows J or H, the chance of the film being a winner diminishes quite significantly.
Dreams are another minefield. I know experts say they are simply a manifestation of our deepest anxieties but they can still put the fear of God into me. After a bad dream, I can walk around for days, sometimes weeks as though with the terrible burden of some albatross around my neck, waiting to see if my dream was somehow a hideous premonition. I have to confess, I have never yet had a premonition but there is always a first time.
Superstitions can seem harmless and, at times, funny but there is something dark about the insidious way they creep into the psyche. It’s that inability to enjoy the good times when I am waiting for my run of luck to end and something calamitous to befall me to somehow balance the books. I am not the only person to be afflicted; in fact my foibles are positively mild when compared to some. I have heard of people who can only wear a certain lucky colour or who suffer from paroxysms at the mere thought of stepping on a crack.
It sounds like madness I know but who am I to judge? Who are any of us, when we all have our own patterns and self-created rules and regulations with which we navigate our way through life? There is no doubt that they, more often than not, make our lives more difficult but they also offer us some semblance of control when, let’s face it, we have none. Surviving on this spinning ball is not easy and so we try and convince ourselves that we are masters of our own destiny. In reality, none of us know what is going to happen from one moment to the next and so, if avoiding cracks on pavements makes someone feel better, then so be it.
If we truly acknowledged the randomness of a life over which we have no control, I’m sure most of us would be locked away in a straitjacket. And so I for one am going to keep on buying my lucky heather and avoiding magpies; it’s the way to stay sane.