I taught science for over thirty years. I have learned to separate fact from belief, real from unreal and rational thinking from irrational concepts.
There is a world of superstition out there. It is a danger to society to rely on unproven ideas. This is why many people burned many women (and men) as witches for many centuries. I once dated someone who would lick her finger and make a smudgy X on my windshield every time a black cat would cross the road in front of us. She said it was for good luck. It was lucky for me that I had a tissue to clean the many X’s from my window, following an afternoon drive.
Many people won’t walk under a ladder, or will throw salt over their shoulder if they broke a mirror. Too many people think that something really weird is going to happen on any Friday the 13th. Great movie, but let’s get real! It’s just a date on a calendar.
However, some superstitions are interesting and not totally without merit. I’d whistle every time I passed a cemetery but the problem is, I can’t whistle like I used to do when I was a kid. So I don’t and nothing has happened to me in the meantime. It’s not totally surprising since it is common to fear graveyards. In fact, I rather like them. I find them interesting places to discover local history and contemplate life.
I believe I made my point. Superstitions are a little nutty.
I am ready to admit to my readers that I suffer from the burden of superstition on a daily basis. It’s just one misplaced belief. Only one, but it can ruin my whole day.
I put myself in your hands by telling you this. If any of my former students finds out about this, I could lose my standing in their memory.
You see, I cannot bring myself to mark off a day on the calendar until it’s precisely midnight.
It sounds goofy to you, but I just can’t bring my Sharpie to the wall calendar and proudly make an X until the clock strikes 12:01 am. But that puts me into an altogether new dilemma. Which clock should I trust?
I am well aware that Einstein told us that time is relative. Time, some mystics may say, is an illusion. What time it is, is a human construct. If I lived in a deep cave somewhere in France, time would really have no meaning to me. There would be no diurnal cycle to tell me when the sun rises and sets. But, I don’t live in a cave in France. I live at Rainbow Lake, NY…and that makes me need to know what time it is.
Do I trust my wall clock in the kitchen? Of course not. I have to change it twice a year and I can never be sure exactly where to set the minute hand. The clock on the oven is a possibility, but we have occasional power failures and we have to reset the timer. So, that leaves the cable box.
Now, I do not know where Time Warner (or Verizon) gets their time feed, but is it exact? I have no way of knowing.
I had another idea. Check my iPad time or maybe my iPhone time or even my laptop time, but isn’t that all feed by Verizon? I didn’t know where to turn. Then a really odd thought came to me. Maybe, just maybe, all this time was being fed to me from Amazon? And, all this time, I didn’t know. They sell everything, don’t they?
So, I just have to learn to depend on one clock and take it on faith that it is correct…to the second…before I can approach my wall calendar to make my X.
Sometimes, I wear a wrist watch and a belt watch that hangs from a loop on my jeans. My son, Brian, thinks that is a crazy thing to do. I think he is thinking of an ancient Zen saying: A man who wears two watches never knows what time it is. I see it differently. A man who wears two watches has choices.
But, one choice I don’t have is when the Sharpie traces an X on the calendar. I have to wait until the time is right. But now I have a clear graphic that reminds me of how fast time is flying.
That’s another story…for a different time and another day.