I am setting out today to write about messages.
The ones that come out of nowhere, that point you in a certain direction, answer a question or reassure.
I have downloaded the above photo three separate times. It continues to post sideways.
I took it – a skim of ice over a puddle in a leaf-strewn path – this morning on my walk. In my mind, and then in my camera, the lines run horizontally, like waves. Calm. Serene. Soft waves contrasting with the hard yet fragile ice. Genius, really. In my mind anyway.
Here, sideways, the serenity is gone. In it’s place, there is some kind of wild, unnatural shimmy happening.
A message? I wonder.
I am reading You are Not so Smart by David McRaney. The subtitle includes the phrase, “and 46 other ways you’re deluding yourself”.
One chapter is about “the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy”, which is the tendency to ignore random chance when the results seem meaningful or when we want a random event to have a meaningful cause.
Remember all the parallels drawn between Lincoln and Kennedy after the assassination? Mr. McRaney reminds us:
- both were presidents of the United States elected one hundred years apart
- both were shot and killed by assassins who were known by three names with fifteen letters total
- Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln
- both were killed on a Friday while sitting next to their wives, Lincoln in the Ford Theater, Kennedy in a Lincoln made by Ford
- both were succeeded by a man named Johnson, born one hundred years apart
Not according to this author. After citing many even more wondrous and spooky examples, he explains it all away. “Imagine a cowboy shooting at a barn,” he says, “over time, the side of the barn becomes riddled with holes…” If the cowboy studies the patterns and then paints a bulls-eye over the area where there is the greatest concentration of bullet-holes, it will look like he’s a pretty good marksman. That’s what we are doing, he says, when we pluck similarities from history, ignoring the differences.
Another chapter deals with Apophenia, which is the misconception that some coincidences are so miraculous, they must have meaning.
Not so, according to this author.
“Coincidences are a routine part of life, even the seemingly miraculous ones. Any meaning applied to them comes from your mind.”
I may have to set this book aside.
Chapter after chapter, David McRaney seems intent on taking the fun out of life.
I’m not one to bet my life savings based on the alignment of the stars, but I get a lift from a good horoscope reading.
I love synchronicity!
I am heartened by the occasional miracle.
I firmly believe we should pay attention for signs from the universe.
I watch for arrows to point me in the right direction.
I look at every fortune cookie as a chance for new awareness.
Once, in the middle of a particularly sad and lonely winter, I received a card in the mail. It was from Amnesty International, asking for a donation. That’s not important, though I’m sure they do great work.
The card said, “Do not be discouraged. You are not forgotten.”
It was exactly what I needed to hear!
I love Richard Bach’s book, Illusions, and the idea of a handbook that would, when opened randomly, always give you the correct guidance at the exact right time.
This morning, tidying up before a little trip, I moved a box of cereal from its usual spot, in order to wipe down the counter. When I went to retrieve it, the message came clear. Next to the little ceramic votive holder that says “Treasure Each Day” was the Cheerios box, reminding me to “Smile.”
I may not be so smart, Mr. McRaney, but I know a good message when I see one!