Monday, May 23, 2011

Magical Thinking

Magical thinking is causal reasoning that looks for correlation between acts or utterances and certain events. 

My favorite author, Augusten Burroughs, wrote a book called "Magical Thinking," which is a collection of essays.  In my favorite essay, Burroughs talks about a phenomenon called, appropriately, magical thinking.   Upon reading his essay, I believed in soul mates.   Never mind that Burroughs is a gay, former-alcoholic, without formal education in a happily committed partnership with his partner, Dennis Pilsits.  He is, nonetheless, unequivocally the counterpart of my immortal soul.  Here's Why:

I have been practicing magical thinking my entire life.   It's what convinced me as a child that if I wanted something enough, I could alter the molecular compound of the universe in order to get it--hitting a home run, for instance, involved me just wanting to hit it enough--usually this didn't work.  Yet I was undeterred.   As a teen, getting asked to Prom involved visualizing and obsessing about it, and then waiting for the universe to acquiesce to my request.  And weirdly enough, this didn't work out so well either, I still asked my gay best friend last-minute.    So you would think that I would have figured out magical thinking isn't real.  But no, it doesn't have to be rational, that's why its magical.  Instead, I changed my type of magical thinking.   Instead of wanting something and assuming you can will it into reality, now my particular brand of magical thinking has evolved to take the form of refusing to want anything.   So for instance, if I had an amazing first date with someone and I really, really like him and someone asks how the date went, I say, "Ok."   If someone asks how I feel about the guy I say, "I don't know, he seems nice enough,"   because, obviously saying that I like him will ruin the whole thing and the universe will punish me for my greed and pride by making me find out this guy actually is a priest/cross-dresser/philander/Jehovah's witness and then all bets are off.   Magical thinking.   Or, if I feel confident about, say an interview that's today, in less than two hours, and someone asks me, "Do you think you'll get the job,"  I say, "No."  Regardless of how prepared I feel. I don't want to want anything.   It's like the opposite of that song.   The whole way my twisted brand of magical thinking works is that it's when you allow yourself to want something, that's when you don't get it.   So if you actually want something, you convince yourself not to want it, or you at least don't vocalize the actual desire you feel.   Follow?

I'm re-reading what I've written and I think someday they will write psychological textbooks about me.   I am obviously not a well woman.   But I can't help it.   I am the worst kind of narcissist, the kind that thinks anything they do can in anyway influence the outcome of the universe.  I always used to laugh (not out loud in their faces, just in my head) at people who told me they prayed to win at high school sports.   I reasoned, that if God in His infinite wisdom, is turning a deaf ear on starving, popped-out belly, eyes eaten by flies, kids in Africa, he probably doesn't give a flying fuck about whether or not the Wildcats make it to semi-finals.  But am I any better?  My appeals aren't to God, they're to...what?  The molecular compounds in the universe?  Ions and matter and other things that I tuned out while were being described to me in Physics?   It makes no sense.   And just as egotistical as those are who petition God for touchdowns, is me, trying to trick and reverse psychology the universe to bend to my will.   It's every bit as insane as refusing to step on sidewalk cracks.  Except my condition doesn't even have a catchy rhyme.   

So, now that I've graduated from college and am blossoming into a mature adult...I refuse to look at apartments.   Because obviously, when I start doing that, I won't need to get one because I won't get a job and will be living with my parents.    And I won't think about the future, because that will only jinx it.   Yes, I'm twenty-two years old and I still believe in jinxes.   Wholly and completely.   

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