Thoughtful Thursday: Luck
January 22, 2009
Thoughtful Thursday plus IComLeavWe? This convergence calls for a celebration, in the form of a new icon. Everything’s more fun with an icon. Clicking the Thoughtful Thursday icon to the left or the one in the sidebar to the right will take you to the Thoughtful Thursday archives — feel free to be retrospectively thoughtful, if the mood strikes you.
A few days ago I showed you some lucky fertility-oriented jade talismans that I bought at a Jade Market. I also mentioned that I don’t actually believe in lucky charms. Which brings us to this week’s Thoughtful Thursday topic: luck.
Sometimes (often, when it comes to fertility), we don’t know why things happen (or don’t happen). If the odds of something are 1 in 4, why you and not the other three people? Statisticians might call this randomness (typically random error, but occasionally another term depending on the statistical context). Physicists might call it chaos. Believers call it Providence, or G-d’s will. The superstitious call it luck.
I believe in randomness (and, as I have illustrated before, I obviously believe in statistics). I believe in chaos. I do not believe in Providence/G-d’s will (which perhaps is a topic for another Thoughtful Thursday, though it’s one of the greatest philosophical/theological questions of all time so maybe not).
And luck? I believe in luck inasmuch as it’s the same thing as randomness and chaos (and when I wish people Good Luck, as I often do when commenting on ALI blogs, what I really mean is “I hope that randomness works in your favor”). But I don’t believe in a luck that we control with rabbits’ feet or avoiding the undersides of ladders. Plenty of people do, I know, including some of you. That’s fine, and I look forward to hearing all about it in your comments. But I don’t. In fact, DH and I frequently mock friends and relatives who exhibit irrational superstitions, just as he mocks me when I throw salt over my shoulder.
dragged brought my husband to that Jade Market, I hadn’t told him of my plans to find specific fertility talismans. As far as he knew, I was just seeking jewelry. When I floated like a butterfly (but didn’t stung like a bee) from stand to stand to stand, asking for very specific designs, he became puzzled. Once I had everything in hand, I explained my purposes. He said, “That’s funny. Normally you aren’t superstitious at all. Normally you are entirely rational.” And I had to explain, “Oh, I don’t believe in them. I just want them.”
I don’t believe that these little carved pieces of jade have any impact on any aspect of my life. But I bought them anyway. I don’t believe in the feng shui that says that we should put one on each nightstand for balance. But I keep them in their designated spots anyway.
Seven years of infertility can turn you into a walking bundle of contradictions. Baby-crazed yet avoid most babies? Check. Can’t stand teenage mothers but hungry for paparazzi photos of Jamie Lynn Spears? Check. Sort of superstitious but not really? Apparently so.
Here’s what I do believe. I believe in the power of placebo. Remember Dumbo and his feather? He could fly because he thought he could, thanks to his magic feather. And so, sometimes if someone believes that something will improve their luck, they might take specific actions that direct their “fate.”
And where does that leave me? I’m already taking the actions that would have the biggest impact on my outcomes, particularly IVF. And still, I hedge my bets — just in case.
As rational as I try to be, I am also open-minded. I’m not so arrogant to think that the Science on which I rely and in which I ultimately believe (even as it has failed me so far in my quest for a baby) has all the answers.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
–Hamlet, Act 1 Scene V
The Mojo Socks do seem to have brought some mojo to Miss Conception, or at least she believes that they have, which is good enough for me. In her case, I entertain the notion that the redemption I sought in giving that gift made the socks different from regular socks you’d just buy at the store. It may well be that the socks had nothing to do with anything, and she would have successfully gotten pregnant with these babies regardless. But something that I know that the socks accomplished was to introduce me to a stranger that I now consider to be one of my best bloggy friends. That qualifies as luck, right?
If I truly believed in luck, I would have run right out after Miss Conception’s BFP and bought a pair of those socks for my IVF #2 (or would new socks not have worked because they wouldn’t be infused with the spirit of all of my demolished pottery?). If I definitely did not believe in luck, I would get rid of the jade talismans, or at the very least put them away. I seem to be somewhere in between — I don’t think it will work, but it can’t hurt to try. Very much the same line of thinking as when I have sex with my husband around ovulation outside of a treatment cycle, or when I drink wheatgrass, or do any of the other dozens of things that I’ve tried — on the off chance that something might actually make enough of a difference to get me where I’m trying to go.
So, what do you think?
Do you believe that lucky charms truly have an impact on the outcomes that you seek? Do you believe that you can change your luck?