“If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”

On Thanksgiving Day, I broke a mirror.

The mirror was in our storage shed/workshop, a structure that was replaced in 2017 after an electrical fire. Many of the materials stored in that shed until the fire were discarded, leaving room for the shed to function also as a dance studio for my daughters. Their mirror was tall and narrow, the kind of mirror people often attach inside a bedroom door or bathroom door so they can see how their clothing looks from head to toe. Needless to say, the mirror was also helpful for their dance practices.

I was preparing to cook the Thanksgiving turkey. I always cook the turkey outdoors over charcoal, leaving the oven in the kitchen free for bread, muffins, vegetable casseroles, pies, or whatever else the other cooks have on the menu. Rather than using starter fluid, I ignite the coals with an electric coil. Since I locate the grill a safe distance from any other structure, I need a long electrical cord to work the starter coil. On Thanksgiving, I was leaning over the mirror to plug the extension cord into the outlet when I bumped the mirror and it fell forward, shattering on the shed/dance studio floor.

I am not superstitious. Borrowing a joke from baseball manager Joe Madden, I’m not even “just a little stitious.” I agree with the adage, “It’s bad luck to be superstitious.” We have a black cat in our household; it crosses my path several times a day without bringing me bad luck. Friday the thirteenth is just another day on the calendar. I don’t bother to knock on wood after saying that things have been going well so far. Breaking a mirror is an inconvenience, and replacing the mirror is an expense, but I’m not worried about seven years of bad luck. (Although I did gash one of my fingers picking up the pieces of the broken mirror, a wound that had to be bandaged for the next five days.)

If there were any truth to the superstition that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck, I would like to declare the bad luck retroactive to the breaking of this mirror. I would like to cancel the bad luck of the last three thousand days, extending back to the start of the Mayan Apocalypse in October 2012. In particular, I would like to cancel the shed fire, the various automotive troubles the family has faced, and a few other disappointments along the way. Failing a cancellation of the past, I would like the broken mirror to signal an end to seven years of bad luck. No more quarantines, no more rigged elections (or accusations of the same), no more dark nights of the soul.

Life is too complex to blame bad luck on black cats or broken mirrors. In spite of the darkness, a number of good things have happened in the past seven years. My children have received college diplomas and have started jobs. Our family debts—pretty serious at the start of the Mayan Apocalypse—have been paid. I’ve written and published a few books. Yes, things could be better, but they could also be a lot worse.

On Thanksgiving Day, I broke a mirror. The pieces have been hauled away with the family trash, and a new mirror has been purchased and put in the shed. The turkey was eaten and enjoyed. My finger has healed. Christmas decorations have gone up, Christmas gifts have been bought (but not yet wrapped), and Christmas cookies are being baked. Our annual Christmas party at work has been replaced with a gift card—for an introvert like me, that’s a win. We won’t be traveling this Christmas season to spend time with family—a mixed blessing, since I’d like to see these people, but also a massive reprieve from stress and tension. The end of the year is coming. I hate to put too much pressure on New Year’s Day and the change of calendars, but closing the book on 2020 may provide a boost of morale. Life goes on, the good with the bad. What more is there to say? J.