I’m not superstitious! Knock on wood…

Smack in the middle of my workday today, I was booted out by the cable men, ordained by the mighty landlord to come and install my non-existent cable. So, I decided to make an early break for the gym and returned about an hour and a half later to find them perched outside the entrance. The problem was, they’d parked their ladder smack in front of the doorway. Well, instead of walking underneath it – as would have been the obvious and most direct path – I chose to crawl sideways between one side of the ladder and the brick wall with which I shared a much too intimate few seconds. The point is, for the first time, it dawned on me, I may, in fact, be a little superstitious.

Now I say that I’m superstitious, but in fact, I pick and choose which words to live by. Selection is based on no logic I can identify, merely a random chosen few beliefs that have stuck with me for as long as I remember. I suppose we’re predisposed to believe in superstitions we were brought up with. For example, I am adamant about never, ever, putting new shoes on the table. This is thanks to my mom who, repeatedly, after returning from shopping trips into the city, would screech at me should my new purchases (in the form of footwear) come anyway near a counter top. I never quite understood the black cat one though, about not crossing it’s path. The way I figure, some cat has walked this path at some point in time, and thus trying to avoid the path of this particular one, will not change the end outcome in any way.

My most memorable encounter with a superstition that wasn’t my own was definitely the time I tried to organize a surprise birthday party for my husband during our time living in Munich. As a Canadian living abroad, I was ticked pink at the prospect of coordinating something as grandiose as a surprise party when I’d only met a handful of his friends more than once and still didn’t speak the language. Needless to say, my bubble was swiftly burst when more than one of his friends made comments about my organizing a birthday party for him before his actual birthday. I thought they were kidding, at first, but as it turns out Germans are quite superstitious about celebrating birthdays before they actually happen. I played the stubborn Canuck and insisted on continuing on as planned. Thankfully the party was a great success and my husband, well… he’s still here (knock on wood).

And there it is again – the famous knocking on some famous wood (or touching wood in some countries).How the saying ever came to be – some argue it has to do with the ancient worshiping of trees while others argue it had to do with the wooden cross – I’m not quite sure; but however it began, it has certainly endured the test of time, working it’s way into the vocabulary of generations throughout the English speaking world. While I’m not a religious soul in the least, I like to think of the belief in superstition as a connection to the spiritual, or perhaps simply a tie to the traditional, a way of sharing in a common fear of the unknown, unpredictable and uncertain that began centuries ago and will continue until man can control the future. This being said,  I think the best way to approach superstition is to take what exists and play with it. For example, Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th is historically a day where everything is said to go astray but, since my birthday falls on the 13th (which happens to be a Friday every now and then), I consider the day to be particularly lucky! A symbol of all things good. Well, in any case, I don’t consider the day to be unlucky, that’s for sure.

My view on superstition? It’s good as long as you have fun with it. If however, you find yourself spinning in circles and doing everything in threes, you’re better off to trust the logic of science which is bound to tell us that a bird in the house cannot mean death and that four leaf clovers hold no actual power. For now however, I will still search through the clovers every time I sit down in a field, just in case.

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