Under the Evil Eye

Under the Evil Eye November 28, 2016
Roman mosaic of the evil eye under attack. Image credit: By WolfgangRieger - John R. Clarke: Ars Erotica. Darmstadt: Primus 2009.
Roman mosaic of the Evil Eye under attack. Image credit: By WolfgangRieger – John R. Clarke: Ars Erotica. Darmstadt: Primus 2009.

The Evil Eye is a widespread superstition, distributed across countless cultures and believed for millennia. Nowadays, few in the West would admit to believing in it. Yet even among die-hard skeptics, the concept lingers on unconsciously.

I’m cursed, jinxed, they say jokingly, but inside they truly feel that way. Nothing ever goes right for me.

Logically, skeptics and atheists realize that the cards can’t truly be stacked against them. They may know that the odds, while distributed 50/50 in a thousand coin flips, can vary wildly in shorter courses. You can get tails ten times in a row, but if you have the stamina to keep it up, the percentage should eventually be evenly split.

Indeed, life is one giant coin flip. Unfortunately, most “unlucky” people never live long enough for the odds to balance out. But for most, the odds waver back and forth between “bad luck” and good.

You may feel cursed, with one bad thing after another happening in a relentless stream of misfortune. Then suddenly something lucky happens and it seems like the curse has been lifted.

Emotionally trying times tend to be imprinted in our brains because natural selection prioritized fraught memories that may hold cautionary lessons for the future. Note to self: don’t reach over an open flame!

Sure, we remember the happy times too, but they often don’t imprint themselves as strongly as the painful ones.

I’m speaking of course of a certain negative mindset. There are plenty of people who suppress bad memories, maintaining a self-deceptive, rosy view of the past. Those are the people who repeatedly get burned.

Actually, I’m sort of a mixed type in this regard. I’m generally an optimist (even unrealistically optimistic at times), but I also tend to focus too much on my difficulties.

For people of a more pessimistic bent, their self-image becomes one of the put-upon, luckless schlemiel. I’m saying this as someone not unfamiliar with this mindset. Indeed, I used to feel this way…until the coin flips started coming up heads.

First, I survived several frequently fatal conditions after I contracted Legionnaires’ disease, with multiple strokes and failing organs. My doctors proclaimed me profoundly brain damaged and told my loved ones to give up hope for my recovery. They spoke of when, not if, I would start going into cardiac arrest.

Yeah, I had every right to feel sorry for myself. My recovery has been extremely difficult. (My current, very painful, recovery from my broken shoulder was indirectly related to that recovery, as well.) Instead, I’ve felt so grateful to be alive–without any cognitive damage–that I feel uncommonly lucky.

Believers would say they are blessed. But they too cannot see the overall, random distribution of good and bad fortune in their lives. They simply attest it to God’s will, that sadistic fucker.

Frankly, I think it’s better to believe in random chance than to think that God is putting the screws to me just to teach me a lesson (or my friends and loved ones). Suck up to me or I’ll do this to you too!

When people make lemonade out of life’s lemons after nearly dying, they attribute that to God saving them for some reason. God saved my life so I can write about atheism?

These are merely different ways to process the hit-or-miss quality of life.

To me, the fact that I’m building a new blogging and nonfiction-writing career inspired by my experiences feels like further “proof” that I’m in fact profoundly fortunate. Yet nothing changed…except my attitude. Maybe everyone who feels cursed should have an experience like mine.

You should be so lucky.

By FocalPoint (assumed, based on copyright claims).

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