Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I am doing well, knock on wood

People knock on wood without really thinking about it, to reverse a jinx brought on by having the hubris to state or expect something good.

"I'm doing well," I might say. "Knock on wood."

A study of college students reported in The New York Times showed that although knocking on wood does not of course influence the course of events, it does reverse the worry that accompanies a possible jinx.

"Across cultures, superstitions intended to reverse bad luck, like throwing salt or spitting, often share a common ingredient. In one way or another, they involve an avoidant action, one that exerts force away from oneself, as if pushing something away," wrote one of the researchers, Jane L. Risen.
"This pushing action turns out to be important, because people’s beliefs are often influenced by bodily feelings and movements. Because people generally push bad things away, we suggest that they may have built up an association between pushing actions and avoiding harm or danger. This led us to speculate that when people knock on wood, or throw salt, or spit, the ritual may help calm the mind, because such avoidant actions lead people to simulate the feelings, thoughts and sensations they experience when they avoid something bad."

I found this interesting because when talking about my good health, I will knock in the air if there isn't any wood around.

This comes to mind because I am just about three months (plus one week) from the five-year anniversary of my transplant. I am superstitious enough that I cannot even use the "c" word that is not cancer. I can say that Dr. DeAngelo's words when I was diagnosed are imprinted in my mind: "After two years, you can break out the Champagne, but only after five years can you say that you are cured."

You get the idea.

I can say with almost total certainty that tomorrow I will get these pesky stitches out of my lip.

Knock on wood.

1 comment:

Nelle said...

I know that feeling so well. Have actually thought about carrying a small piece of wood in my purse. In desperation I knock on my head sometimes.