Monday, October 3, 2011

Written In The Stars

I won't control or restrain things I do not understand.

Independent events:  "In probability theory, to say that two events are independent intuitively means that the occurrence of one event makes it neither more nor less probable that the other occurs."

It is a concept that seems so simple to understand, yet when faced with real world situations, is the hardest to truly grasp.  Organizations in this world have made perhaps trillions of dollars capitalizing on this inherent difficulty of humanity.  Tell a person that Action A leads to Action B, even if there is absolutely no parallel between the two, and you could find yourself very rich one day.   A little charisma goes along way in this world.

Often times we as humans think we are above these groups.  And maybe we truly are not a part of these money making scandals.  But upon further examination, I have to confess I have been just as guilty.  Just because I do not actively participate in any congregation does not mean I am truly above the people who regularly worship these organizations that have existed for thousands of years.  For this was just a different manifestation of the same false belief.  The same belief that by doing one thing, we can influence something events tens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles away.  

It was my lucky royal blue plain t-shirt.  It was the shirt that I thought could conquer all.  And in 2008, it did.  I wore it countless times during the 2008 Playoffs, and each time I did the Phillies won.  And look at what happened in 2008.  Magic.  Fast forward to 2010.  It was the shirt I wore when the Flyers qualified for the playoffs against the New York Rangers via the shootout on the last day of the season.  And look what happened in 2010.  A magical run that saw the Flyers fall just short of the Stanley Cup.  Magic.  Unexpected blissful magic.  This worn down royal blue shirt had the ability to transcend all rational belief and catapult teams I loved to victory.  That alone, was responsible.  Surely.

The warm summer air turned back into a brisk, fall air.  Summer of 2010 turned into Fall 2010.  And everything changed.  Knowing the Phillies needed it to rally in the 2010 NLCS, I wore it during Game 2 of the Series.  And oh, happy day, the Phillies won.  They were back in the series.  They can do this.  The shirt still has magic!

Fast forward to Game 6, once again sensing need, I wore it.  I do not need to remind people what happened.  Fast forward to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I wear it frequently during the Philadelphia Flyers series against the Buffalo Sabres, I find myself wearing it to start the game and taking it off as the Flyers consistently drop goals to start the game.  It was as if the luck was reversed.  Karma?  Luck ran out?  Or simply the product of believing that a meager coincidence actually meant something.  In the Flyers' series against the Boston Bruins, I wear it twice.  Both losses.  The magic had disappeared.  

How feckless I was.  Obsessing over a shirt.  A fucking shirt!  As if a shirt I wore actually had any impact on what happened miles away from me.  As if everyone else's lucky charms were all for naught.  As if only I had power over whether my team won or not.  As if my shirt triumphed prayers to God from fans of other teams.  As if God cared about a game.  As if there is a God.

People have superstitions.  They like to believe they have power over that which they can only hope to control from afar. They like to believe that by doing Independent Event A, they can influence Independent Event B.  Picking a shirt to wear for the day has no influence over whether or not a sports team succeeds miles away.  Standing or sitting in a certain position has no influence over whether or not a sports team succeeds.  But we like to think it does.  For when it works, we feel good, like we did something to help our team win.  That we can control that which we previously thought we could not.  Praying to a Higher Power has no influence over whether or not a sports team succeeds.  Why should a Higher Power, manufactured by yourself, your favorite blog, or someone thousands of years ago care?  Why should the Higher Power, if one such exists, ignore the pleas from Side B who want the exact opposite to happen and only listen to you?  What makes you so special?

The irrational need to control things that with which we cannot control dates back thousands of years.  It is an irrational belief that by doing Completely Unrelated Event A, we control Completely Unrelated Event B.  Think about it.  It is the irrational need to assign a reason to that coincidences which we otherwise cannot explain.  Calling two things mere coincidences is too simple.  It's too easy for the laymen to understand.  There must be a reason.  Just like you can't convince the laymen that the Cardinals were largely lucky in their 5-4 defeat of the Phillies.  There must be a scapegoat.  There must be blame.  There must be something my team did wrong, because we all know there has never been any situation where someone did everything right and yet still ended up getting the short end of the proverbial stick, right?  Right?!?

For some, this entire post was nothing more than a painful re-stating of the obvious.  For others, it may be blasphemy.  But maybe it is neither, for maybe I am wrong.  What if there is answer to the questions we seek, just in places we never thought of looking?  Perhaps the answers to which we week are right in front of us, written in the stars.

Now I realize I'm stronger than I was.

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