A couple of nights ago a praying mantis took up residence outside my bedroom window. Though not unknown in our neck of the woods, sightings are infrequent. I went to tell my wife who asked, “Aren’t they good luck?” A quick Google search turned up:
Many cultures also believe that seeing a praying mantis will bring good luck. In Africa, they have been thought to bring good luck to those they land on, and even bring the dead back to life.
I don’t know about reanimation, but it got me thinking. A horse shoe should be hung facing up so the luck doesn’t run out – at least according to an old episode of M*A*S*H. My mantis was upside down – does that indicate luck or the lack of it? Is position even a meaningful distinction to a mantis?
The mantis is immobile until a meal comes within reach and in the blink of any eye grabs and devours it. Google also says that this speed has made the mantis a symbol of martial arts in China. Presumably she stays still during mating, but promptly devours the male afterwards. Lucky for her - - not for him.
Luck is an ineffable thing that just seems to happen, though we often endeavor to make it happen. The Oxford Dictionary offers several definitions:
luck /lək/ noun
· success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions.
· chance considered as a force that causes good or bad things to happen.
· something regarded as bringing about or portending good or bad things.
So, it can be good or bad; it can be an active or a passive agent and sometimes it changes from one to the other depending upon time or circumstance. There’s an expression that “you make your own luck,” which is true - - if you get lucky - - - It’s a very slippery slope.
Does the mantis portend anything for me and my family? Have I been lucky or unlucky until now? Will I become luckier or less lucky? In a sense it’s a matter of faith in oneself and the choices made and to be made. I can’t change the past, but hope my future choices will, at least, be appropriate and if I’m lucky, good ones.