Holding your breath
As a kid, I was a bit superstitious. All of us were. When we drove over railroad tracks, we would lift our feet up off the floor boards and put both hands on the roof of the car…even if we were driving. To get to high school, we had to cross train tracks each way. When we drove over bridges, we held our breath until we reached solid ground on the other side. We held our breath driving by cemeteries. We spotted VW bugs like four leaf clovers. We searched for “paddidles” – cars missing one headlight. In my youth, Florida still inspected cars and 2 working headlights were required. A broken headlight was rare. Again, spotting one was good luck. We would double cross fingers when we made promises. Our entire neighborhood had sidewalks so we learned to walk so as not to step on the cracks. That was, until we got to the age when we stepped on them on purpose: a concrete voodoo doll for our mothers. Cruel but true.
Now, I try to think what replaces the childhood superstitions? Do we grow out of them? Or do they mature into omens and portents, blessings and gifts from above? We have a tendency to make simple things bigger or more elaborate than they truly are in adulthood. We embellish so as to make a simple thing seem bigger, better or grander. Embellishment implies being “grown up”. But, they are just superstitions. If I get a speeding ticket, does it predict future problems? Does bad news always come in threes? And, when do I find myself holding my breath? What is my adulthood equivalent of the bridge? Hold your breathe until you get to the other side…..as if it makes you lighter. Now, it is like camouflage. Hold you breath and maybe the “bad guy” won’t notice you. Stand still and maybe he’ll walk right by you and pick on someone else. Tread lightly and maybe you can get through the scary part whole (or nearly intact).
I see it now for what it is…..FEAR. I want to stomp through the forest. I want to say BOO to the bogeyman. I want to sing while I drive over the bridges, bouncing up and down in my seat….tempting the bridge to fall down. NO FEAR. And I want to breathe. I want to break mirrors, drop eggs, spill salt and not blink once that it might come back around and “get me”.
Childhood superstitions were silly and mostly fun….innocent. Adult superstitions simply feeds the Beast and fear is a murky, wicked thing. If I am going to get picked off, I would rather it be while I twirl like a gypsy and sing off key. I do not want to cower in the shadows and try to go unnoticed….missing out on MY life for fear someone might steal me from it. Whatever time I have may already be determined, but HOW I live it is my choice. Fear shall not be a welcomed guest.