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06 December 2010 @ 12:50 pm
The whole "knock on wood" thing... I refuse to believe in jinxes  
When I was a kid, I used to think that if I predicted bad things for an outcome, then I'd be "ready" in some way and "anything that happens less than the worst I predicted" puts me ahead of the game, right? Typical of an 8-year old living a terrible childhood, I actually thought this was a good idea. I was CONSTANTLY disappointed by people or situations that let me down. That hurt. So if I predicted they would, and they often did, well, I avoided hurt feelings. Seemed like a solid plan as a kid, and I have no way of knowing how it might have protected me.

But now I'm 42.

About 15 years ago, I started to notice that a lot of my pessimism seemed to be rooted in this philosophy, and it relied on two false assumptions:

1. The "world" or fate in general was a sentient force out to get me
2. Being prepared for a negative outcome was a decent strategy

First off, I have hereby refused to believe that the universe, or the Gods, or fate, or "the world," as it's commonly phrase, is out to get me. My dad said that everyone was out to get me, and he was a mean jerk with no friends. Oh, sure, certain people might be out to get me, and I have had a few rare occasions where I have caught a few assholes, but the whole world? Like the universe is out to get me?

Am I that fucking important?

No. I don't believe I am, and while I have run into a few "negative spirits" in my time, they comprise a vast minority to be almost insignificant if it wasn't for the fact sometimes they are proverbial thorn in one's side. But even if the thorn pricks my foot and make me limp or something, I am not going to sit around and mold my life under this "thorns are everywhere" philosophy anymore. It is a waste of my time, and nobody has ever said, "Gee, Punkie, you're sure clever predicting the worst." No, often they say rude things instead about being a downer. And I'd deserve these rude things.

This is why I stopped believing you'd jinx something simply by wishing or stating good fortune. And a HELL of a lot of people do this.

Me: My dog is healthy for his age.
Person: Oh, don't say that! Knock on wood! AAAUGHH!
Evil Spirits: HA HA HE SAID HIS DOG WAS HEALTHY WE'LL MAKE HIS DOG SICK THAT WILL SHOW HIM!! FUCKING JERK THINKING POSITIVE--Oh, wait, he knocked on wood. Dammit!

If we say bad or negative things, do we do something to make good spirits stop preventing it?

Me: My cat is sick, and I am worried she'll die because I can't avoid vet bills.
Person: Whatever you do, don't kick a stone wall, because then good spirits will cure her.
Me: [stubs toe on curb] Oops.
Good Spirits: NoooOOooo... we'll make the cat well again so he won't have to... oh, poop. He kicked a stone wall. Does a curb count? I guess we can't cure his cat now because we still live in some bad Piers Anthony novel framework.

Forget that. Having met a few evil spirits, I can tell you they won't stop being mean just because you knocked on wood. If you really want to rid yourselves of evil spirits, make a lot of loud and sharp noises like firecrackers, banging spoons on baking sheets, or have lots of children or yappy dogs. Of course, this does interfere with board meetings (this may not be a coincidence).

Second, preparing for a negative outcome may have been a shield of panic and preparation for the random bombs that seemed to drop from the skies in my childhood, but it's a poor philosophy as an adult. It totally warps your mood and makes you more likely to have bad things happen. "Luck favors the prepared," as they say, and the same goes for both good luck or bad. You pretty much make your own luck. Now, I happen to believe in karma. I believe if I do bad things, bad things will come back to me. If I do good things, good things will come back to me. So far, this does seem to work if you don't have the attention span of a gnat.

Here's another issue with predicting the worst:

1. You have a future outcome that has a score from 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst.
2. You think, "if I prepare for 1, I am prepared for anything."
3. Trouble is, preparing for 1 puts you in a bad "1" frame of mind.
4. Good luck and things that may make it a 4 or 8 or even 10 get passed over.
5. Most of the time, something greater than 1 happens. You pretty much forget about it.
6. So your life is constantly in a "1" frame of mind.
7. Then, one day, something WORSE than you predicted happens. A zero!
8. Now your bar has been lowered from 0 to 10, because you want to be ahead of the game.
9. Then, one day, a -1 randomly happens. You lower the bar to -1.
10. Then a -2 happens. And so on.
11. Eventually, your scale goes from 10 to -450 or lower, where 10 seems too far away to be noticeable or attainable anymore.
12. Your whole life becomes miserable because you keep planning for 450 things "worse than zero" and it makes you nuts.

The entire TSA is built on this wrong scale. "What's worse than the worst we can think of?" Well, if you can't think of it, you can't make a reasonable prevention. You just end up sexually molesting airplane passengers until someone makes a bomb using THE POWER OF THEIR MIND and now you have to knock passengers out for each flight with hammers .

Here's an idea: how about predict realistic but good scenarios and be wrong some of the time? That's where I'm headed with this.

Sadly, I had been negative for so long, it's not been easy to steer and entire life's philosophy 180 degrees right away.