Superstitions. Modern Magic. Tempting Fate.
I’ve been thinking about superstitions because I’m wondering if one of the heroine’s of my 2017 series, Old School, is going to have some superstitions in her life. It made me question if I have any.
At first, I would have given a definite “no”. I once owned (or was owned by) a black cat. I walk under ladders (or more usually widely around them since I’m a klutz and I don’t want to knock anyone off a ladder). I never throw salt over my shoulder or worry about Friday the thirteenth. But then I remembered … I have superstitions about tempting fate.
If I’m talking about things going well, I tend to either say or do “touch wood”. Or I simply won’t talk about something that’s sailing along (like a story I’m writing that is awesome in its characters and plot twists) for fear of “jinxing” it.
So, while I’m okay opening umbrellas inside and breaking a mirror only annoys me because then I have to clean up the mess, I find that I am superstitious. How about you? Do you have any superstitions in your life?
I don’t practice magic, so this isn’t literally about magic, but about how magical thinking is adapting to our computer age. When I talk about algos (the algorithms that rule our life — they’re the things that Facebook uses to decide which posts from our friends we see) I could be talking about magic. I have no idea how they work, but I’m superstitiously convinced that they have to be appeased.
For instance, I won’t type the word -s-pa-m- for fear it summons it! Similarly, I have a gizmo-thingie on this website that scores me on how well I’m writing this post. I suspect the score is a load of rubbish, but I still bow down before it in the hopes of magically writing a post that Google searches then show to everyone!
So any time we’re uncertain, magical thinking rushes in to fill the gap. In a world of chaos and change, we try to impose order.
I don’t believe our destinies are fixed. I think we have the power to change our lives and others’. For me, superstitions are defensive. We’re cowering before Fate, trying to avoid the worst times.
We need to take the fight to Fate.
And this is why I love reading fiction. Fiction tends to be quest stories where characters charge into battle (real or emotional) and us readers run with them. In the safety of fictional universes we experience the power and price of challenging destiny. I hope that every fictional happy-ever-after makes us a little more willing, or confident, that we can seize happiness, too.
— Originally published at authorjennyschwartz.com/blog