We naked apes are born into this demon-haunted world like dry sponges dropped in chicken soup
When a ladybug lands on me, or when I find a four leaf clover—it happens—I am perfectly happy to accept the augury of good luck. But nine months ago, when I broke a mirror accidentally and spectacularly, I was unwilling to accept the supposedly implacable seven years of misfortune. I am, in other words, superstitious when superstition appears to be working in my favor, but icily rational when the superstition does not bode well. In fact, since it is my practice to always interpret omens favorably, I instantly transmute the ill-starred event into wonderful tidings for me, creating, as it were, my own personal superstition. The broken mirror, for example, happened during a major transition in my life, a move from one state to another, from a small mountain town to San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. So clearly, my self-image—my reflection—was also in transition, and the broken mirror afforded me the wonderful opportunity to renew my self-image by replacing the mirror. A few months later, I did just that, and by that ritual act I cleared the way for a new, shinier self to emerge. Really, considered properly, it would have been unfortunate had the mirror not broken—golly, I’m sure glad it did.
Oh, I suppose I’m flirting with, you know, the crazy when I restructure cultural conditioning so freely, but what’s the alternative? We naked apes are born into this demon-haunted world like dry sponges dropped in chicken soup; will we nil we, we soak up the mores of our tribe which nearly always include a long list of magical aphorisms that render palatable the inscrutabilities of fortune. Only later, when some of us begin to think for ourselves, do we have the luxury of mediating our relationship to this morass of half truth… taking advantage of the resulting insights is one of the few indisputable advantages of aging.
It would be easy to walk the way of the skeptic and dismiss all superstition as worthless. But why throw the bath water out with the baby? After all, I might want a bath someday and the fact is, harbingers of good fortune always cheer me up; the trick is to find a way to have nothing but good luck, nothing but good omens, and that is a trick I have nearly mastered.
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