Théophile Steinlen's 1896 poster advertising a tour to other cities ("coming soon") of Le Chat Noir's troupe of cabaret entertainers
"Evil might even appreciate my diligence whenever I remember to keep it at bay."

I consider myself minor-stitious rather than superstitious. This designation means that I maintain more awareness than belief. I certainly do notice when a black cat crosses my path, remain scrupulous about not walking beneath open ladders, and appreciate parking karma when it visits me, but I do not go into hiding at the drop of a black cat, open ladder, or when forced to park a quarter mile away from my destination. I believe it healthy for a modern such as myself to retain a taste for lore from the past, not to the point of foraging for newt eyes or keeping a caldron simmering, but to show respect for my ancient elders. I feel confident believing that a few of my direct ancestors believed in witches, for they were Puritans, and Puritans believed such things. I feel confident that a few of my more firmly held beliefs will have been shown up as mere superstitions four hundred years hence, for that's just something futures seem destined to do to our practices, particularly the more sacred ones. I acknowledge my primitive sides, even though they might presently mostly hide from my sight.

Many of my 'stitions stem from my relationship with synchronicity, that sometimes sense that destiny's discovered me by means of the apparently happy accident.
Happening upon an old friend on the street when we're both independently visiting a distant city seems like pure synchronicity, as if The Gods themselves had conspired for us to meet there for some mysterious reason. Stars sometimes seem to align perfectly, as if bidden. When I find myself the first in line or the very last one allowed in, I quite naturally believe myself forgiven all past trespasses and sins, and an authentic sensation of salvation passes through me. When I'm suddenly lucky after a long cold streak. When the rain comes just as I'm putting the mower away. Almost every day, some little something seems to positively impress me, and I make up benign little stories to more fully appreciate these experiences. Superstitions, some say.

Some seem to live largely mythical lives. I understand that these stories amount to clever lies, where either their PR machine or mine decides to present some better than best sides of some otherwise imperfectly human guy, but I buy into them anyway. My sense of association, that I'm on the same side as The Good Guy, buys me more than a temporary high. It lends a certain style to my life, too, even when I deeply suspect the underlying truth. I know that their shit stinks, too, however sweet of a deal they seem to be passing through. We're all human, only human and also extraordinarily so, each apt to accentuate our positive sides more than our more ordinary rather negative ones. Elevation goes just as easily as it comes, and who's ready to run away from a taste of positive press coverage as long as the need for it doesn't become some kind of habit. Nobody loves any habitual braggart.

I mentally toss a pinch of spilled salt over one shoulder whenever I spill the stuff. I observe a few dietary rules I know for a fact amount to bullshit. I will not under any condition enter a Walmart, and avoid shopping with Amazon, usually, and also secretly despise Microsoft in all its incarnations ever since I read Judge Pennfield Jackson's uncompetitive practices ruling. These behaviors might seem like so much 'stition, super or more minor, but they represent instances of me practicing honor, my personal moral code, since I strongly object to what those businesses represent. To avoid being seen as supporting their philosophies, I quite consciously shun them as vehemently as any Pilgrim ever shunned any witch. I consider this wise practice, reinforcing deeply held convictions. I don't want to believe any different, however 'stitious I might seem.

This early within our damned pandemic, I find it impossible to distinguish 'stition from emerging wisdom. Every recommended action carries an unbelievable tinge. Each seems to depend upon me applying my belief and not my skepticism, for each might only be proven wise if I find myself at least trying to help prove it so. None of those practices could ever prove any negative. Not wearing a mask, for whatever reason, won't ever serve as reason for not wearing a mask, a condition that I might call tautological reasoning. Same story with social distancing. It cannot qualify as even a half-asses superstition unless freely and fully engaged in. The mandates, then, serve no greater or lesser purpose than any enforceable law might, since they only work if diligently engaged in without pretending compliance. Would that these new rules were recognized as 'Stitions, then, for we all might pre-consciously and religiously observe them, and at least feel better whenever we observe them. There's something enormously satisfying about repelling evil by tossing a pinch of salt over my shoulder. Evil might even appreciate my diligence whenever I remember to keep it at bay.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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