Wednesday, 7 October 2009


An email arrives from Mum with a photograph of Tasmanian apple blossoms that she picked by the roadside. Mum says she always carries a pair of secateurs. To my mind that is tantamount to going out armed with intent to commit burglary but Mum doesn’t see it that way at all. “I’ll give you and Nick some secateurs too when you come to visit,” she says.

In Mum’s email there is also a link to an interview with a man called Arnold Mindell. She is keen that I show it to Flossie and Meg. This is what happens. One gets ill and then one’s friends and family all hook up and start going off together on all sorts of wild, esoteric tangents.

Anyway, Arnold Mindell is a proponent of something called Process-Oriented Psychology that my mum is rather keen on. She says that one of his techniques is to ask us to notice anything in nature that attracts or ‘flirts with’ us and then follow where it takes us. As a person who spent much of her childhood with her head stuck under cars trying to talk to cats, I can grasp the concept.

Most of the interview goes right past me. I find the language opaque. But a few things jump out. At one point Arnold Mindell says: “...the unpredictable, the event that only happens once, is itself very meaningful.”

I have noticed that a great deal of extraordinary and unexpected things happen all the time. I have also noticed that there is a high level of synchronicity at work in these unusual occurrences. Here’s one that I hope I never forget. It happened a couple of years ago. It was a drizzly, damp day, much like today. I was feeling miserable and overwhelmed by the pressures of my life. As I sat in my car in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Ladbroke Grove I did not think to myself “how lucky I am to have a nice warm car to be sitting in on a mizzly day like today.” No, my thought process went something like this: “Why do I have to work and pay the bills and get the car taxed and do everything all on my own? It’s too hard. I’m so lonely. It’s not fair!” As the windscreen wipers schlumphed back and forth a small tear of self-pity rolled down my cheek. I looked up with bleak eyes into the queue of tail lights stretching down the hill. In front of my car was a white Transit van. I focused on the number plate. It read: HI I IUV U. A moment later the van indicated right and was gone. I burst out laughing.

Arnold Mindell goes on to talk about illness. He says: “ soon as someone gets sick, they fight the illness, rather than trying to find the meaning or purpose behind it.” Then: “’s almost never illness, but some intense process trying to happen.” It seems to me that he has hit a nail on the head there. I’m not sure how to explain this but I strongly have the feeling that cancer is not something to be endured but rather it is something to be done. I feel that is some kind of ‘superhighway’ from one part of my life to another. I’m not sure that it has a “meaning” as he says but I am convinced that it has a “purpose”. By that I mean that I don’t think it is necessary to spend time and brain cells trying to analyse everything and figure out if it has some sort of coded message for us. Rather, it seems to me that all these occurrences, whether they appear momentous or inconsequential, may be like signposts showing one which way to go next.

Maybe life is a bit like following a breadcrumb trail through a forest? Which breadcrumbs we choose to follow determine which paths we end up on.

Does that make any sense to you?

I’m just dozing off on the couch after reading the interview with Arnold Mindell. And then an unexpected thing happens. The phone rings. Well maybe that’s not so unusual. But it’s Marianne on the other end of it. Marianne was a close friend of my cousin Gaby. Marianne nursed Gaby and was with her when she died. “Marianne, are you in America?” I ask. “No, I’m in London for a few days,” she replies. It will soon be the anniversary of Gaby’s death. As Gaby was dying, it was too hard for the family to accept what was happening. Our denial made it difficult for Gab to fully experience the end of her own life. Gaby really needed a friend like Marianne who was outside the family. Gaby felt she could talk to Mariane about anything without feeling the need to protect her from the hard reality of it. I’ve wanted to thank Marianne for being with Gaby at the end but Marianne went back to America. Now I can do that in person.

My conclusion? Just about anything can happen at any time and invariably does. So be prepared.


follower said...


canalily said...