Two weeks ago I was talking about the birth of ideas. Strangely enough, in a perfect example of how some of my ideas form, I was working on a post about motivation and another idea popped into my head. It went something like this:
- I wrote that I hoped there would be “more ideas to come” and I knocked on wood.
- That made me think of superstitions.
- That made me think of Friday the 13th, which happens to be the day on which I turned 13.
- That made me think of my birthday in general, which falls on the 13th of March every year.
- Which reminded me that my brother-in-law died on my 35th birthday, which was also a Friday the 13th.
- At the time of his death I was living in Ottawa and for some reason I wasn’t participating in the City of Ottawa Bonspiel (I had played the two previous years).
- This year I am curling in that event and I fly out the day after my birthday.
- That made me think of the tournament schedule, which in curling parlance is referred to as a “draw”.
- That made me think of the phrase “the luck of the draw”.
- That made me think of superstitions again.
- And that’s why I’m on this oil rig.1
This all happened in a fraction of a second, which speaks to the immense processing power of the human mind (and to the fact that I should probably still be in therapy).
I grew up playing baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter. I would guess that hockey players probably having more superstitious tendencies than everyone else in the world combined. Add onto that turning 13 on Friday the 13th and what you end up with is one seriously superstitious kid (it doesn’t hurt that I’m
slightly obsessive compulsive). My skates always went on right foot first, then left, then I tied the left, then I tied the right. I removed the little shiny sticker at the base of my stick (on the shaft just before the heel – back when sticks were actually made of wood) and replaced it with a strip on black hockey tape. Don’t even get me started on the laundry schedule for certain items during a winning or points streak (neither of which occurred too frequently).
Those are just a few personal examples – there are literally millions of others that people are carrying around with them every day. Most seem to be centred around sports, but they definitely exist for writers as well. I know people that write with their lucky pens, or in specific patterns in specific notebooks, under a favourite tree, or even facing a specific direction (East). Some will chalk it up to being a “creature of habit” and others insist it’s simply a matter of comfort.
I’m superstitious to the point where you’d think that I think it actually matters, and you’d be more right than you are wrong. You can’t have one of the greatest days of your childhood (Friday, March 13, 1987) and twenty-two years later have the worst day of your life (Friday, March 13, 2009) and not think that there’s something bigger going on – that there’s not some sort of connection, or some mystical force of the cosmos working to balance everything out.
Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the Universe”, and as a matter of fact he didn’t believe in God – at least not as the Mover of All Things. He felt that everything was governed by a grand unified formula in which all matter, and its behaviour, was connected (indeed, even Einstein saw some of the merits of modern Quantum theory). Well, it turns out Einstein was right about more than a few things in his lifetime and I’m left to wonder if maybe what we see as superstitions he would see as just ordered variables of a grand equation.
I’m also left to wonder if there was something more behind his desire to not wear socks.
P.S. Apologies to bartender Brianna at ski lessons. Had I just sat in the same place as before maybe she would have won on her Tim Horton’s Roll Up The Rim cup today.
This is an inside joke from a long time ago. Back in 1993 a bunch of us were watching TV in a dorm room at the University of Waterloo and the guy whose room we were in happened to be a bit of a channel surfer. We were all talking and not paying much attention and he hopped to a channel where there was this funny looking British dude in the middle of the ocean and he said, “And that’s why I’m on this oil rig!” Well if we all didn’t think that was the funniest thing we’ve ever heard. After that, any time someone said something even remotely out of context someone else would say, “And that’s why I’m on this oil rig!”. Fast forward to 1996 and I’m living in an apartment with a fellow physics student. He was obsessed with the show Connections. In summary, it was a show where this guy would take an everyday something like a garden hose and he would walk you though a fabulous series of “connections” starting with the first discovery or invention that kicked off the whole chain of events. It’s an amazing show if you have any interest at all in why we end up with some of the things we have today. Anyway, one day we’re eating lunch and watching this show and wouldn’t you know it, the host jumps to a new “connection” and he standing on a platform in the middle of the ocean and says, “And that’s why I’m on this oil rig!”. I just about choked on my sandwich I was laughing so hard.