Thursday, September 24, 2009

Unlucky in Self-Love

By Ashley Lister

Just to go off at a tangent here, I’d like to mention that this is my thirteenth post for Oh Get A Grip. This means there are a dozen previous pages of pith, perception (and something else beginning with P) for readers to peruse should they enjoy the writing style of my post today. And I mention this here, at the start of a blog about self-love, to show that, whilst I’m comfortable with most aspects of myself, the one part of my personae that embarrasses me is the fact that I’m superstitious.

Thirteen is a number that gives me the willies (and not in a good way). If a short story I’m writing ends on page 13, I’ll edit and trim until it’s down to twelve pages. If I’m due to begin a project on the thirteenth of the month, I’ll postpone or prepone, just to make sure I’m not inadvertently hexing the prospect of success. On Friday 13th I shut the computer down, don’t talk to anyone, and try to stay in a darkened room for as much of the day as possible.

“How interesting,” I can hear you yawn. But what has this got to do with self-love?

I’m not just superstitious about the number 13. I don’t walk under ladders. I won’t light the third smoke from a single match. This is the thirteenth sentence of my thirteenth blog. I never leave shoes on the table. I do rituals if I spill salt. I don’t walk under black cats.

There are times when I disgust myself with this stupidity. Superstitions are irrational and based on archaic presuppositions. When I ‘knock on wood’ for good luck or to avert misfortune, I know it’s an action that has its precedent in the ancient worship of trees and nature. When I refuse the third light on a match I know it’s a habit that (according to popular rumour) was a practical necessity in the trenches of World War One.

I cross my fingers. I have a horseshoe nailed over the back door of my home. And I’ll wear garments inside out throughout the day if that’s the way I accidentally put them on first thing on a morning. And I mention these things to show how self-love, particularly in my instance, can be blind.

I’m not sure if it’s right to say I love myself. I certainly like myself but I’m not yet sure if it’s love. I’ve only been seeing myself for 44 years so it’s early days in the relationship and I’m not sure I’m ready to make the commitment. Also, the phrase ‘loving myself’ could either sound like an admission of conceit or masturbation and I don’t want to take this post in either of those directions.

I mention these superstitious foibles because I like myself, despite my superstitions. If I met someone who was so superstitious, I’d likely proclaim them as a crackpot and distance myself from them completely. I’d make jokes about them behind their back and I’d probably go out of my way to make their life uncomfortable by scheduling important meetings for each Friday the thirteenth. Maybe I wouldn’t be so mean but it’s almost certain that I would have little time or patience for someone with such irrational beliefs. And yet, I tolerate these personal peccadilloes because I know they’re a part of who I am and I sincerely like the person who I am.

I’m now going to cut this blog short, for fear that, when printed out, it might turn out to be thirteen page lengths in duration. And, even though I know that’s irrational, superstitious and stupid, I kinda love myself for being that way :-)


  1. Delightful essay! (I cracked up at lines like "I’ve only been seeing myself for 44 years so it’s early days in the relationship and I’m not sure I’m ready to make the commitment.")

    So, if you're "unlucky in self-love," then it would follow (according, of course, to superstition) that you're lucky in self-cards. You must rule at solitaire!

    And now I'm even more grateful than before for the fact that you read and praised my story "Three on a Match." Thank you for not letting the figure of speech in the title scare you off! (And I hope you were relieved to find that no matches were actually lit in the course of the story.)

  2. Well, you know, I was looking forward to seeing where you were going to take this topic and you managed to surprise me, sort of. I just knew you'd head for left field, I just didn't realize you'd be wearing your clothes inside out and tossing salt over your shoulder along the way.

    A really fun post Ash, thanks for the giggles.


  3. I secretly suspect that the reason you have not walked under a black cat is because you are not that short. Or else the cat is not that big. If you are that short, or the cat is that big, you have more troubles than your superstitious nature.

    But we love you anyway ;) Now give yourself a nice big hug.

  4. you are simply charming

  5. Entertaining as usual, Ash. I had no idea you were so superstitious, you lovable crackpot! *G*

    ~ Jenna

  6. Jeremy, Jude, Helen, Jicky & Jenna,

    First: I'm sorry for responding so late in the day to this. I've been out for the last fourteen hours either teaching or having a meeting about teaching.

    Second: thank you all for reading & enjoying. I was seriously worried about making my 13th post here and I know how ridiculous that sounds. Your support and responses have made me realise I had nothing to worry about.

    Thank you all for reading & responding.



  7. Hi Ashley!

    I've always wondered where superstition comes from. Having spent a great part of my youth living with Japanese and Koreans, I know those cultures are traditionally obsessed with good and bad luck, and getting one and avoiding the other. In myself I've always thought it came from apart of me that wants to think the universe is subject to what we do and we can control what happens to us. My experience confirms this is only limited at best. It would be interesting to know if you're religious.


  8. Hi Garce,

    I don't really have time to be religious.

    But I do find superstitions fascinating. And, even more fascinating, when you discover why some of these strange rituals have come about, they don't seem to lose any of their uncanny hold.

    Thanks for reading & responding,



  9. Hey, Ash,

    You certainly have every reason to like yourself. You're a very talented and very funny guy.

    Sorry that I'm so late in chiming in. I know what you're talking about regarding teaching and meetings about teaching. I just spent three hours editing a student's term paper...!


  10. Hi Lisabet,

    Three hours editing a single term paper? Ouch!

    Thank you for reading and responding. I'm glad I'm still proving entertaining :-)




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