A few days ago, we experienced Friday the 13th. This reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend:
“Do you have triskaidekaphobia?” asked True. “Or maybe you have friggatriskaidekaphobia?” She likes saying long words at the speed of light. (She also says “acetaminophen” so fast that my brain turns the last few syllables coming out of her mouth into “Muhbluhblah.”)
“Do I have what?”
“Paraskevidekatriaphobia. The fear of ‘Friday the 13th’.” True, who used to write for Air Force newspapers back in the day, once wrote an article about Friday the 13th.
I shook my head. “Nope… the number 13 is lucky for me.”
I’m as superstitious as they come. When I was 13, I picked up a 25 cent “Omens” booklet from the rack at the grocery store checkout stand. It scarred me for life.
Some of the words of wisdom from this little book: “If you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive.” That’s not advice to be taken lightly by someone with arachnophobia.
And here’s one: “See a pin, pick it up, and all the day have good luck. See a pin, let it lay, bad luck all the day.” (The bad luck being that you get a pin stuck up your foot.)
It’s considered unlucky for lovers to be photographed together. Based on how many marriages end in divorce, this has some merit: think of all those wedding photos!
And this: “White spots on the nails foretell wealth. It’s also said they signify lies.” Well, duh. How do you think the person got the wealth?
But back to triskaidekaphobia. The superstitions to avoid bad luck are ones I follow faithfully. I don’t walk under ladders. I throw spilled salt over my left shoulder. I say “rabbit” every first day of the month when I wake up.
However, my relationship with the number 13 is quite the opposite. I don’t avoid it. I celebrate it. For me, 13 brings me good luck.
Here’s an example. I’ve been a Rolling Stones fan all my life – since I was 13. In 2006, I went to my 13th Rolling Stones concert, which was in Las Vegas. When the band came onstage, Mick Jagger announced, “This is the13th time we have played in Las Vegas.”
Later, I realized my hotel room at the Tropicana was on the 13th floor (labeled the 14th, but I wasn’t fooled by that old trick). My flight out of Vegas was on Nov. 13, and it was smooth and non-stressful.
That entire Vegas trip to see my favorite band, shared with two of my best friends Beverly and True, was magical – and it was wrapped up in memory paper patterned with the number 13.
Sometimes, one person’s triskaidekaphobia is another’s triskaidekaphilia (say that fast 13 times).
That thing that most people fear? It might be just the thing that rocks your world. Your fascination with the Black Death or Jack the Ripper or vampires, might be the very thing that sets you apart from the crowd and brings you luck.
As the brilliant psychologist Dr. Carl Jung once wrote, “To confront a person with his Shadow is to show him his own light.”
Don’t be afraid of the differences within you that make you strong, even if they’re a bit scary.
Even if it’s the number 13.