Doing my part to try to trick the world into giving me a perfect day.
Superstitions start small and innocent. A bad day or a good day reminds you of that thing you did – or didn’t do – that morning before life crumpled or bloomed. So you’ll do or not do that something the next morning and the next and the next, and suddenly a new protocol in your waking routine imprints for life.
I fall asleep with the radio on NPR. It’s low and peaceful and distracts my drowsing thoughts from torturous places. But upon waking up, the superstitions begin. I can’t get out of bed on a discouraging word. My finger goes to the on-off switch waiting for the Morning Edition anchor to say “…test scores showed improvement” or “…as a last hope.”
Fast! Fast! Fast! Switch off the radio before the next word!
But world news is not good, hardly ever. “…in response to the Syrian genocide” or “…before she finally succumbed.”
Some days begin with my finger on the radio for 15 minutes.
That 12 year-old superstition started after jumping out of bed on “…legally not torture.” Somehow, I remembered that as the orthopedist x-rayed my ankle.
Years before that, musing on the beauty of the peace sign, I drew one in the steamed glass surrounding my shower and unexpectedly made out with an actress that night.
Okay, that connection’s sketchy but why skimp on a superstition requiring two seconds, easily bought back in waiting-for-the-conditioner time? I figured, a few more solid superstitions and I was on the way to starting a new religion.
Of course, the slippery slope – not unlike feeling you’ll have a bad day purely because you used an expression like “slippery slope” – is taking your superstitions too seriously. It’s important to dismiss thoughts like, “Nine people just got murdered in a church…did I draw my peace sign today?” Life in general is so hard to take seriously and so easy to take too seriously.
But I press on with the morning rituals, even the futilely sad ones like setting my watch ahead five minutes. Rather than arising from a particular event, this superstition hatched from a rejected philosophy. In the 80s, so many wise/moronic people advised us to “live in the now” it started feeling repressive. The fear of losing “now” took on mammoth shamefulness. “I did nothing with that moment. Nor that moment. Nor this moment right now…”
No, no, no. Counting wasted moments of my life was not going to be my new superstition. I could see the OCD borderline and wasn’t going to cross it, so I comprised: “Live in the soon.” Five minutes seemed a reasonable soon, a loose grace period allowing for the insane hope of keeping a step ahead of the world and maybe even gaining ground on life’s never-ending game of catch up.
The key word there is hope. I twist and feint and connive my way through the mornings of my tiny universe hoping for a perfect day. Reality – another superstition – doesn’t enter into the equation.