On being ... a good luck charm

By Ingrid Sapona

I’m a bit superstitious -- but in a positive way. In other words, I’m not inclined to think bad things will happen as a result of some random event (like seven years bad luck if you break a mirror). Instead, my brand of superstition is based on the idea that certain things can bring good luck.

A prime example of my positive superstitiousness (to coin a phrase) is my belief that I’m a parking good luck charm. I was reminded of it again just the other evening when a friend and I were headed to a bar we’d never been to before. We had a pretty good idea where it was on this popular, busy street, but we weren’t certain of the exact location.

Just after my friend pointed out the place, I spotted an easy-to-pull-into parking space directly across the street from the front door. It was a very cold evening, so we were especially grateful to have found such a close spot. As I pulled into it, my friend mumbled something about my being lucky. I couldn’t help myself -- I blurted out, “Well, I’m a parking good luck charm”. She didn’t say anything in response, but I’m pretty sure she shot me a “whatever” look.

I first began thinking of myself as a parking good luck charm in my 20s. This one friend and I used to go out at all hours and no matter where we went, we always ended up finding great parking. At some point he commented on the fact that whenever he was with me, he never had a problem finding parking. (Apparently he didn’t have such good fortune normally.)

Then I started noticing that I seem to find primo parking spots even when I’m driving and have someone with me. Eventually I concluded it was happening far too regularly to be a fluke, so since then, if I’m in a car with someone and we’re looking for parking, I confidently announce I’m sure we’ll find a spot because I’m a parking good luck charm.

When I say that, those who don’t know me too well usually react with a pretty cynical, “Yeah, well, I hope you’re right”. Often, just as they finish muttering that, I point out an open space and little more is said about the matter. And then there’s the reaction I get from inveterate disbelievers. One guy I went out with, for example, always used to mock me by saying, “Oh that’s right – a parking good luck charm -- not a bridge fairy.” (His comment was a reference to the Canada/U.S. border crossings at Niagara Falls. Depending on the economic and political climate, the wait to get through Customs on the bridges can be from minutes to hours.)

I’ve thought about why I seem endowed with this luck when it comes to parking. The answer, of course, simple: being a parking good luck charm is nothing more than being confident you’ll find a space and then focusing your attention on your surroundings as soon as you arrive where you’re looking to park. Really, you could call it “parking conscious”. You’d be surprised at how many people aren’t parking conscious.

My belief in my parking luck is very much like a good luck ritual that worked for me in law school. Right before I left for an exam I always played Kenny Loggins’ “This is It”. The title refers to the fact that the present moment is the time for action. I felt that if I left the house singing it, I’d do ok. Looking back, it seems clear the luck I ascribed to the song came from the fact that singing the phrase -- This is It! -- helped me focus on the reality that the moment of the exam was the time for action -- the time to call forth all I’d learned and crammed into my little brain! I guess you could say the song helped make me “exam conscious”.

The great thing about good luck charms is they help you feel lucky and that boosts your confidence, which is bound to make whatever it is you’re up to go more smoothly. The best thing about being a parking good luck charm isn’t that you find great parking -- that’s just an added bonus. The real benefit is that if you feel you’ve been lucky with parking, you end up in a more positive frame of mind, which can help carry you through whatever you’re doing next.

Regardless of whether you believe there’s any such thing as a good luck charm, I hope these examples convince you that you can create your own luck with a positive attitude and by focusing your awareness on the immediate task at hand. So, next time you’re in search of parking, try being your own parking good luck charm -- all it takes is belief and focus. Go on -- give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll bet you end up in some pretty sweet spots.

© 2009 Ingrid Sapona


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