I'm not superstitious...

...well, maybe just a little. But that's an occupational hazard. Writers, indeed anyone considered "artistic" or "creative," can be a superstitious lot. There are phrases you can't say, phrases you must say, complicated rituals to complete before work can begin. I expect this superstition from fellow writers and artists; after all, our industries are unpredictable, and these superstitions help us feel that we're doing a little something extra to ensure our good luck. But lately I've noticed rampant superstition among my friends and acquaintances. Upon noticing that these people have significantly better fortune than I do, I wondered if they might be on to something. And wasn't it my journalistic duty to conduct an objective investigation of their beliefs? For the most part, the superstitions centered around a couple of principles:

1. Be careful what you wish for.
I have one friend, "Amelia," who refuses to express even the slightest desire that something occur. Not only will it occur, she says, but it will be all wrong and get you into all sorts of trouble. As an example, Amelia had this old car, a real clunker. One day she became so infuriated with it that she wished it could just disappear. And it did disappear -- the very next day. Stolen while she was in the auto parts store, and found the day after that, at the bottom of a lake, stripped.

2. Don't say that - you'll jinx it!
Another friend, "Henry," believes our words possess great power. If you talk about something you hope will happen, like a job offer, it won't. The same theory is true for what you don't want to happen, Henry insists. If you're afraid of some impending doom -- like a demotion -- tell everyone you know, everyone who will listen, about your fear. The more you talk about it, the less likely it is to occur.

3. Don't press your luck!
This may be the most powerful of the three. Have you noticed that in the movies, when someone says "How bad could it be?" or "It can't get any worse," things inevitably spiral downward? In fact, I'm a little nervous at having written those phrases. But as I said before, I'm not superstitious. I think these are just self-fulfilling prophecies, and if people stopped believing in them, they would have no power. And that's why I am not at all affected by these silly superstitions.

Knock on wood.

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