The idea for this open thread hit me as I was doing laundry from my last trip. I have certain rituals that I follow every time I'm getting ready to leave town. As I thought about it, they've become a comforting framework - a way to calm myself down, sooth my mind, and make myself feel better about the upcoming trip. In short, these patterns have become superstitions.
One of my biggest must-do's is that I need to be packed the night before any trip. I prefer to only have to shove my toothbrush and any extra needed toiletries in my suitcase, zip it up, and walk out the door. It doesn't matter if my flight leaves at 6am or 9pm, it must be done the night before or I'll be a mess all day. I even go so far as to lay out my travel clothes for the next day that night.
Each and every time, I put out the same outfit - a pair of light colored Calvin Klein jeans, a dark blue Captain America t-shirt, cheap boxers, socks, and slip-on shoes to make the airport line easier. You'd be amazed how many TSA agents mention the t-shirt and treat me nicer when I wear it - or, at least in my head, they seem to be extra friendly.
I always try to get a window seat on the plane. As soon as the plane takes off, I swallow a Xanax and usually sleep for most of the flight. When I exit the plane, I make sure to thank the crew and tell them they did a good job so they'll feel good about themselves and be in a good mood for their next flight. If there's a cute male attendant, I wink at him.
I do all of these things without thinking of them; they've become rote. But do they qualify as "superstitions," really? I don't think that I'm going to have a catastrophic trip if I'm not wearing the right t-shirt or don't flirt with the steward. But on this last trip home, I wore a new t-shirt I'd bought at the convention and, during the baggage scan, I got my carry on pulled out, gone through, and re-scanned. My first thought was "Should have worn Captain America shirt." So I'm obviously skirting the line.
I know that one of the best ways to control bipolar disorder is through repetition and patterns. Go to bed around the same time each night, sleep for the same amount of hours if possible, set up a work routine, etc. The constantly repeating cycle helps prevent extra stress from new situations that can upset the delicate balance bipolar people search for. I'm already a predictable man of patterns, but at what point do comforting rituals move into the realm of superstition?
So what say y'all? Is my travel routine a superstition or not? And what superstitions do you perform most regularly? I'm curious to see what others of you have latched on to as a way to help you make it through the day.
(Four leaf clover graphic via Bigstock)