In honor of St Patricks day, I’m going to quickly touch on the four leaf clover.
I remember when I was a kid in Central Park one day, I was in some field and I kept finding all these four leaf clovers, one ofter another. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. And maybe I was. Or maybe I was just in some kind of genetically modified, messed up patch of New York land. Who knows? But at that moment, I knew I was very, very lucky.
Since then, I’ve gone through phases where I’ve been mildly superstitious. I needed to keep my good luck at maximum and my bad luck at bay, so I followed certain patterns and procedures. I knocked on wood- or lacking sufficient wood, I’d knock on my head (which was of course a fine substitute). And I went around ladders instead of under them. Also, when salt spilled on a table, I threw it over my left shoulder… although this was partially because I thought it was fun to throw salt around.
Then a friend of mine said to me one day, while opening up her umbrella indoors, “I don’t believe in superstitions. I think they’re a way to control people.”
That statement changed my life. I suddenly saw her point. At once superstitions felt extremely controlling and fear-inducing. They seemed to fall in the same vein as the depressing nightly news. Superstitions said to me, “lots of bad things are going on in the world that are beyond your control and you should fear them.” These kinds of superstitions make people feel weak.
Dear god, a black cat just crossed my path- this day’s gonna suck! Oh no, someone said “Macbeth” in my theater- they’ve just ruined my show!
Neither of those thoughts are very useful.
On the other hand, some superstitions actually seem to have started out as a way to be useful: the ladder superstition possibly began as a way to keep people out of potentially dangerous situations- perhaps a paint bucket on top of a ladder could fall onto your head below. Breaking a mirror will leave lots of sharp glass everywhere, so lets scare people into being very careful around mirrors… Umbrellas opened indoors will knock things down, so we’ll say it’s unlucky to open one. Salt spilled on the table needs to be thrown onto the floor and then the table will be nice and clean again…or something like that.
Now that I’m thirty, I’m way less superstitious. I’m actually anti-superstitious to the point of occasionally aggravating people. I won’t use the “scottish play’ pseudonym in theaters. I sometimes open my umbrellas before I leave restaurants. I get excited on Friday the 13th- it’s typically a great day for me (although maybe that’s a superstition too- albeit a reverse one).
Are you superstitious now that you’re in your thirties? Maybe more than you used to be? Or perhaps less so? And most importantly- have you found your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow yet? You know it’s waiting for you.