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psQuill

Harrumph I say!

Posted on 2006.04.27 at 01:28
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Lucky Man - Emerson Lake & Palmer
When I look into my bathroom mirror in the morning, there are several things I’d like to see smiling back at me. I suppose the short list would have to include the following:

1) An artist (this will always be a day-to-day proposition)
2) A scientist
3) That hot chick from the El this morning stepping out of the shower behind me

Yes, I’m well aware that any one of those items is pretty much made impossible by the other two, but if you can’t dream into your bathroom mirror, where can you dream, my friends?

Let’s talk about the scientist part for a moment. I’ve been a science geek all my life. I even worked at a science museum for the better part of a year (I was Doctor Zap, I’ll have you know!). I’ve regularly bought or subscribed to such arid journals as Scientific American, Skeptic, Skeptical Inquirer, Sky & Telescope, and Free Inquiry. Then again, I also used to subscribe to Inside Wrestling and Howard the Duck, so perhaps we shouldn’t scrutinize my reading habits too closely.

But for all of my embracing of science and rational principles, I find that there are still some strong currents of superstition and irrationality running through my normal operating modes. That was brought to mind this afternoon when I attended the support staff luncheon in honor of Administrative Professionals Day/Week. For the second year in a row, prizes were given out to a lucky few. Last year, I was the happy winner of a free subscription to the magazine of my choice. This year, I won dinner for two at the restaurant of my choice for up to $80 (I’m already having uncontrollable McCormick & Schmick’s fantasies).

So what does that have to do with superstition and irrationality? Well, I have to say that today was only the latest example of Stuff I’ve Won In My Life. I’ve won a disproportionate amount of stuff over the years, from concert tickets to record albums to printers to a 20-pound turkey on the one night of my life I went to a church bingo. Now I’m well aware of those ancient concepts that a) you make your own luck, and b) statistically, there must be a few people like me in the general population. But after doing this enough times over enough years, I am forced to conclude the following: I’m lucky. Because I’m not a theoretical statistic; I’m a real person. And as we drew our chances on winning a prize this afternoon, as the coworker next to me was bemoaning her sad state of affairs, that she “never wins anything,” I was sitting there completely ready to get up and claim my prize. The chances today were distributed in the form of fortune cookies. Most contained regular fortunes, but some contained slips that told you you’d won. When the cookie bin was presented and it was time for me to choose one, I looked in. And I have to tell you the truth about what I saw. One cookie seemed to literally glow before my eyes; yes I really mean it, so that’s the one I took. And while I was pleased as punch to be a winner, I was completely unsurprised.

As I re-read the preceding, it seems a little ridiculous, but that’s what I saw. And if I’m going to be really honest, I have to report this as well: I love winning. I have a competitive streak, oh yes I do, though I try mightily to keep it marshaled and focused and in its place. And I try to be selective about what it is I actually try to win, because I’ve learned the hard way that getting what I want is not always a good thing. I’ve sought and attained a few things that made me very unhappy, so I try to bring some level of objective analysis to the objects of my desire. But at certain times, I can become ferociously competitive. I don’t suppose this is the most becoming trait one might possess, so I try to keep it demurely shielded from public view most of the time. But when it blossoms, I can exhibit a level of determination and tenaciousness that frankly surprises me. So I wonder if perhaps that isn’t somehow at the heart of this thing I’m calling luck. Perhaps my luck is simply the ultimate outward sign that an exceptional competitive intensity is lurking beneath my bumpy surface. I don’t know.

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