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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 5-13-22 – Friday the 13th

The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.” ― Cormac McCarthy

Every year has a Friday the 13th, according to this wiki link, some years have only one. 2022, is a year in which we have only one, today. By some accounts, the unlucky nature of the number "13" originated with a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party in Valhalla. The trickster god Loki, who was not invited, arrived as the 13th guest, and arranged for Höðr to shoot Balder with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died, and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day." This major event in Norse mythology caused the number 13 to be considered unlucky. In Christianity, it is thought to have something to do with the last supper and there being 12 apostles.

There are people who will not leave their house today as they are that superstitious. The late Dr. Donald Dossey coined a term for those afraid of the number and the day, the word is Triskaidekaphobia. If one starts to look for unlucky things on that day, one will find unlucky things on that day. Just poking around history, a fire onboard the Apollo 13 mission on April 13th, 1970 damaged wires and potentially creating conditions in which the spacecraft could not return Astronaut and Commander James A. Lovell Jr., Command Module Pilot John "Jack" L. Swigert Jr and Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise Jr to earth. It took a lot of engineers working together and a bit of good luck to reconfigure key systems for the removal of carbon dioxide and some navigation adjustments to get the capsule back. According to this article written on the 20th anniversary of the flight in 1990, Commander Lovell said of the mission “Survive we did, but it was close. Our mission was a failure, but I like to think it was a successful failure.” They did so by working with what they had to change the course of their fate. It could have ended grimly, it did not largely because they decided to try for a better outcome.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. The cruise ship Costa Concordia partially sank off the Italian coast on Friday, January 13, 2012 after running aground, killing 32. Yet, the ancient Chinese regarded the number 13 as lucky. The ancient Egyptians also thought 13 brought both good and bad luck. I found more than a few articles on the internet talking about positive things that happened on Friday the 13th. All of them were similar to this one talking about the first equal employment act being signed and the Olsen twins being born. I am not suggesting that all of these Friday the 13th events are of equal import.

I recently finished a book in which about 2,500 holocaust survivors considered Friday, April 13th 1945 as quite literally the most fortunate day of their lives. They were liberated by US expeditionary forces who came upon the train just one hour before Nazi leaders had ordered it taken to the center of a bridge and the bridge blown, sending all aboard to their death. The book, written by a Hudson Falls New York High School history teacher by the name of Matthew Rozell is being made into a movie, the trailer is here. There are also accounts of the event here. There was even a reunion of a few of the survivors and the soldiers who saved them in 2007. It was anything but an unlucky day for these families saved by American soldiers who stumbled on the train in the final days of the war and decided to save those lives.

As I have noted in prior writings, one of the things I have learned about life is that days you may count as among your worst may have the seeds for the very best of days that spring forth out of the rough patch. That is certainly my experience in life. You will not find me hiding in bed today or avoiding meetings out of superstition. Come what may, it is my day to make the most out of what I can control out of it, which is as Charles R. Swindoll once said “the only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.” I have rough days, today may or may not be one of those, but as every day is a new day, I reject portends of doom based on superstition.

I am not a superstitious person. I can’t recall any terribly bad or incredibly lucky things that happened to me on a Friday the 13th. We know that factually speaking, every Friday the 13th is followed by Saturday the 14th. If you have anything particularly positive that happened to you on a Friday the 13th, please share it hear and spread the positive news and push back against superstition. There is enough in this world to get dragged down by if we so chose, lets pull superstition out of the mix. When I stop and reflect, it is a good day when I can get out of bed and face what may come my way, present day included and that I am grateful for.

What are you grateful for today?

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