Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

My Wedding And The Seductive Lure Of Magical Thinking

Lessons can be learned from almost any experience.  Lessons about reason and logical thinking are no different.   I got married yesterday (pictures here) and while the ceremony was beautiful and was deverything I wished it could be, the events of the day or so leading up to it was anything but.

Things did not go well starting from the day before the wedding.  Both my wife and I went shopping and bill paying separately.  Well, turns out that by the time we were done and got back together, a check of the bank accounts showed that we might no have enough to pay for the reception at the restaurant.  It took returning some stuff and cashing a check with my bank’s line of credit to make sure that we had enough.  

The next problem came the morning of the wedding.  We went to the florists to pickup the floral circlet for her hair so she could take it to the hair dressers.  We got to the florists and instead of the circlet with sweetheart roses, the clerk handed her some loose roses.  No circlet.  To top it off, her bouquet, which was supposed to include red roses, star tiger lilies, and lilly grass. looked like something that a child might have thrown together.  She had specifically picked out a design from a catalogue two days before, except replacing orchids with star tiger lilies.    To be blunt, it was a piece of crap.  We canceled our order and left with her in tears.  Fortunately, went to the local supermarket with a florist and found the perfect bouquet and other flowers we needed

The next almost disaster was about half an hour before we were to leave for the wedding.  Our rings and the marriage license were locked in a fire proof box.  The key for the box was on her keyring, which, despite us and our kids looking, we could not find.  Disaster was adverted after five minutes with a hammer and screwdriver busted open the box.

Finally, we arrive at the restaurant where the ceremony and reception was being held.  We had eight vases for the place settings in a bag, which I handed to my soon-to-be-wife.  Unfortunately, she didn’t have a good hold of the bad and it dropped onto the parking lot, breaking six of the vases.  The good thing?  We didn’t have as many people show up so that we were able to place one vase per table with the flowers.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with magical thinking or supernatural belief.  It was very tempting, even for me, to want to attribute the streak of bad things that happened to some kind of mystical force, be it fate, luck, the evil eye, God, satan, or leprechauns.  The reality is that these events were just a random series of adverse events the effects which were amplified by the significance of the day and the associated stress.  

We both fought the impulse to attribute the bad things that happened to some kind of cosmic fate or karma and that actually made it easier to deal with.  A superstitious person might have allowed their superstitious beliefs to convince them that because things had started off so badly, that meant that their marriage was somehow cursed.  Even if they didn’t take it to that extreme, the thought that they were the victims of bad luck could easily have made it harder for them to enjoy that special day, as they waited for, as it were, the other shoe to drop.

We knew that there really wasn’t any rhyme or reason to these upsetting events.  This knowledge made it much easier for us to put them out of our minds and enjoy our wedding.  

In hindsight it was obvious to us that just as many, actually more, good things happen than bad.  Way more, in fact.  If we had allowed ourselves to believe in the delusion of bad luck, or karma, or whatever you like to call it, we might still be lamenting these events, or at least allowing them to taint our memories of the day,

Things happen.  And as our parents always told us, the reason is, “Just because.”

May 27, 2012 - Posted by | Skepticism |

2 Comments »

  1. *chuckling* I would guess that in the moment of those things happening, general nerves and anticipation heighten the emotions as those things are happening. R’s & my wedding day, and the days leading up to it, I was in total and complete denial about my own level of anxiety. It wasn’t until after the ceremony was over and we were just taking pictures and being silly that I felt the nerves slide away. There were a few things that happened the day prior and day of our wedding that -as you said- if we allowed ourselves to think they were anything other than basic human silliness, they would have tainted an otherwise wonderful day. And terrifically, because of that very perspective, we’re able to look back on those very events and laugh at them….because they were funny. Only, they didn’t *seem* funny when they were happening…LOL!

    Comment by prosey | May 28, 2012 | Reply

  2. congrats!!!!

    Comment by kerry | June 3, 2012 | Reply


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