Friday, July 17, 2009

Connections - Real Or Imaginary?

You know when you read a book and you feel as if it's going to change your life?

Well that's what I'm doing at the moment. This one is by Edward de Bono, a fellow who is probably best described by someone other than me. In the wikipedia entry he's described as a

"physician, author, inventor and consultant."

I'm sure it's accurate but I think of him as a highly bright person, probably from eating a lot of fish, who teaches and writes about good thinking, creativity and using one's intelligence. He introduced the term "lateral thinking" and also the six thinking hats method which you may have heard of. He didn't invent lateral thinking of course, that was Newton, who also invented gravity.

I like his work and the book I'm methodically working my way through is called "I am right, you are wrong." though I'm unsure if it features the comma that I've thrown in there.

If I were an academic sort of chap I'd speed my way through books like this with the ease of a tri shaw driver weaving his way through Galle Road at about 2.15 in the afternoon. I'm not, though I know it will surprise you, so instead I plough through each of his books with the speed and sense of relaxation only normally seen in white tourists attempting to eat with their fingers for the very first time.

Yes, reading one of his books for me gives me the literary equivalent of food up to my elbow and mess all over the tablecloth. There's no way I can take it all in if there's a TV on in the background, Guns 'n' Roses blasting out or A + K having a fight about who sat there first.

This book demands my total concentration at all times, any mind wandering results in a total lack of comprehension. However, providing I manage it, which often means reading a page several times, I learn. And I learn big time. And I like that. And I must not start sentences with and.

I won't bore you with details of what I've learned but each short section in this book invariably sets of an army of lightbulbs in my head. As I read something there are pinging noises and explosions going on as I feel stuff realigning and huge big chunks of knowledge being deposited in the RD head.

The one thing I want to share with you is about connections, how we approach them, see them and often look for them. It made me think, perhaps you'll do likewise.

I used to have the occasional bad driving day, one of those days when it would seem like all the bad drivers were out on the road, as if there was a meeting of the bad drivers' club and they were all on the way and somehow had erroneously thought my car was the one leading the way.

It would always start with someone pulling out in front of me in the morning. By the end of that day I'd have had about three or four similar incidents and would get home wondering what was in the air that day. Then there'd be about five months until another day would have the same kind of incidents.

Or do you ever find yourself looking at a crowd, perhaps at a match or if you're watching one on TV. When you aren't thinking about it the crowd appears as a totally random mix of differently dressed people. If however, you decide to count the number of people wearing red shirts, they spring out towards you and you begin to see red shirts all over the show. It appears as if almost everyone's wearing the things.

The other day, as I was doing my morning commute, one without the mad drivers around, for some reason I started to think about Paris. In fact, as I write about this I've realised it was because I was talking with Ozcuz the previous night about Barack Obama and how I'd seen him in Paris. I drove into work and merrily day dreamed of the joys of Paris, the delights of the French experience and the rest of it.

Fast forward by an hour and I was sitting at my desk staring at a friend's pictures on Facebook, pictures she had uploaded of, yes you've guessed it, Paris. She'd only uploaded them the previous night and I felt as if Paris and me were going through a connected phase, which is probably how the boyfriend felt when him and Ms Hilton were making THAT video.

All these kind of things happen to all of us and we all think that there's a connection going on, that there's something in the air, or that the universe is speaking to us. It may well be the case.

Or, as de Bono theorises, it may be our mind playing tricks on us. He tells us, well he told me and the other people who've read the book and I'm telling you, that the mind actively seeks connections, that it has a need to join things up and find patterns, even when they don't actually exist.

So if I start the day with an idiot pulling out in front of me, my mind becomes attuned to more of these incidents through the rest of the day, whereas on other days I'm occupied with my usual mind tremors and ruminations.

If we look at a large crowd but decide to pick out the people wearing red shirts then our mind gets into that gear and the red shirted people jump out at us.

If, by coincidence in fact, I have a passing thought about Paris and the look at some photographs of the city a little while later then my mind seeks out a connection and concludes that there is one, probably making it all the more likely that the next time I see a Renault I'll figure that Paris is calling me and I should jump on the next plane there.

When you think about it that is what happens isn't it?

It's not that these connection really exist, it's just that our minds, for whatever reason, look for them and find them.

Next time you catch yourself thinking you're receiving messages telling you a place is calling you, that everyone's in a bad mood or all the cars are blue today, take a step back and question if it's your mind making connections that don't exist. It seems to be for me.

Just thought I'd share that with you.

Good weekend all.



Anonymous said...

Dude please make your posts between 100 -150 words so we don't get bored half way through. Blog is a quick kit kat break. I am afraid we get bored when its a long one. Thanks

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

anon - no

Sigma said...

LOL - that answer was short enough!

Anonymous said...

And who uses the word "dude" anymore, what a knob end.

Anonymous said...

RD, here is a question.

why does the writer of Go TO Sri Lanka write exactly the same way as you ?

Same sentence construction and the same limited vocabulary .. hmmm
Is your female female side finally escaping ?

or is it more sinister .. like a ahem soft marketing pitch ??

very interesting. shall watch how this one unfolds.

Ian Selvarajah said...

Love that you've got some trolls here now...are they regulars? :)

I'm guessing you've read about synchronicity right? While I do agree that humans tend to try to find patterns even when they're not there, I like to believe in the power of the mind. I always think back to that Einstein quote:

"There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle"

Nice post, cheers!

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Hey Ian, long time no see.

Yes, the trolls are fairly regular, this trolling thing seems all the rage these days you know!

I'm a firm believer in the power of the mind too. This book I'm reading is turning a lot of my opinions on their head, in a very good way.