The Unbearable Pretence of Luck

I woke up one morning with a sudden realisation that my day did not start at half past six as a usual Thursday would. I woke up three hours later, with bed head as usual, but the sun was projecting itself through my curtains as if it was trying to tell me that the world was waking up.

No college. This excited me. Not due to disliking it, or disliking the people, or disdaining the studies, but because the sheer exhaustion dripping off of my body as if I had just been drowned in the ocean and resurrected. The fatigue was a wave of the ocean. In actuality, I still feel it now. Like the snow is falling like a pretty scene – the day off of college – but getting irritated about the snow postponing the walk I wanted to take – the fatigue. A single snowflake could fall and I would tread on it as if it were a spider or the loch-ness monster. Try to defeat the fatigue sprinkling itself on my shoulders.

A particular mood ransomed itself that morning, as I read the beautiful, The Picture of Dorian Gray by the one and only Oscar Wilde. The chapter I read was brutal (I will not specify the events just in case there is anyone who wants to read it, is currently reading but not where I am, or just hasn’t read it). This brutality, in short bursts of librettos in comparison to other chapters, was located in chapter thirteen.

Chapter eleven of the book, to me, seemed slightly pointless. Despite the beautiful words that Wilde used, the tiresome facts that it displayed seemed to have no relevance to the story. Maybe I will find out that it is relevant as I continue to the end. However, if this chapter had not been included, the brutality would have been chapter twelve. If there was an extra chapter inserted into the book as a build up to the bitterness, it would have been chapter fourteen. There must be something significant about this harshness being in chapter thirteen.

Thirteen: a supposedly unlucky number. A number to avoid. If you complete an exam in thirteen minutes, what are the chances of something bad happening to you afterwards? If you shut your eyes for the entire minute of thirteen while on the rowing machine, and you open your eyes before the minute is up, what are the chances of not collapsing into some bad luck after you finish your workout? If you finish chapter thirteen of The Picture of Dorian Gray and leave it there, what are the chances of that chapter being remembered throughout the next seven chapters? Very likely.

There is no logic in luck. There is no logic in the idea that stepping on a crack in the pavement will make you dissolve into a luckless puddle.

Tell me, is there logic in one stepping away from a mirror for two steps and then it falling on the ground, and one thinking, there goes the next seven years of my life; sweeping up pieces of glass and walking around on invisible shards, and stressing about the concept of not knowing where the bad luck is erupting from. Is there logic? Was it your fault that the hook that the mirror was attached to became so loose that it just let go? No. I suspect not, unless it was purposeful. Even if it was purposeful, your luck would not instantaneously condense into a major issue, and the world that you see is only full of people like you who have broken mirrors; people disappearing every second due to their seven years of bad luck coming to an end. You sigh at the thought of your seven years just beginning, as people come and go into the world of bad luck like a firework show before your eyes. And after your seven years, your firework would erupt.

The thirteenth chapter was brutal. It is illogical to think that leaving the book after reading thirteen chapters was unlucky. I do not believe in luck, like the breaking of a mirror giving you seven years of entrapment of bad luck, or having a lucky number, or four leaf clovers, but I cannot deny that the idea floats through my body like a wave of insolence, irritating my organs.

If I broke a mirror, I would be angry. I would be forever concerned that I did not pick up every piece of glass and I would stand on it one day and the shard shoot through my foot and right through my body. If the number thirteen came up, for example if I had to cook something for thirteen minutes, I would always cook it for fourteen just in case something had happened. In fact, I don’t think I would even eat it if it had to be cooked for thirteen minutes; I would disregard it as if it was a slab of meat already chewed up by a lion and spat back out onto my plate.

As a child I would always search the grass for a clover with four leaves. The extra leaf supposedly being a symbol of the luck that was induced in the world. But, it is quite clear by never finding a four leaf clover, and even if I had, the world would be no different. Nothing would change. The mirror would still break, and the food would still cook, and the four leaf clover would eventually become a three leaf clover, then a two, then a one, then a none. That isn’t the cycle of losing luck. If there is no luck to begin with, one cannot be planted into bad luck.

Luck does not exist. But the feeling of luck or the wishing of luck does. If you tell an actor to break a leg, they do not actually break their leg; if so, if the act of saying this was true they would break their leg every time. If every time someone was standing by a mirror, and you said to them, break a mirror!, the mirror would not break because of a wishing of luck. The mirror would break out of deliberate means, or accidental, but not a fate or destiny that would automatically send you to a institution for the clinically challenged wretches.

It does not happen that way. And for Dorian Gray, the idealism that Basil Hallward adored so greatly, the brutality was just a sentiment, not a burst of bad luck, but I wish you, Dorian Gray, all the luck for your future endeavours for the next seven chapters of the book.

But now in finishing the book, THIRTEEN days later, I know what has happened.

Rest in Peace, Oscar Wilde. 30.11.1900

-ALWright

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