russell higgs

04 Aug 2007 687 views
 
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photoblog image saturday 04082007

saturday 04082007



Two Tales of Chance on a saturday morning:

PAVEMENT 1

Early this morning I exited the Housing Estate where I live, here in East London, and a little way along the pavement I noticed a bunch of keys. I picked them up, but I was unsure of what was the best thing to do with them. So I placed them on the railings nearby and carried on walking.

After a while I've turned into another road and I notice a man walking along with his very energetic young dog leaping up and down alongside him. The dog entertains my attention for the entire length of the road. And then at the end of the road, the man meets with a woman, and just as I'm passing them by I realise that he is saying to her something about "not being able to find them".

Of course I turned and said to him "have you lost some keys?"

Yes he had. And as added confirmation he went on to describe various components that were attached with them, such as a yellow plastic whistle and a bottle opener etc.

I lead him and his frisky little dog all the way back down the road and round the corner to where I'd placed them. And obviously he was very pleased.

But the amazing thing about this is the micro timing of events. If he hadn't met the woman, for instance, then he'd have had nobody to talk out loud to about losing the keys. And the fact that I passed him by just as he was talking about that topic. And the fact that my attention was on him in the first place, because of his dog, rather than me daydreaming as I passed him by and therefore I would have not been listening etc etc. The very fact that this man with his dog turned out to be the person who had lost the keys. The fact that I, in the role of a random passing stranger, actually knew where his keys were. The fact that I'd originated from the other road where he had dropped them in the first place. etc etc

PAVEMENT 2

A few hours later I was in North London when I noticed a spindly little spider walking across the busy pavement. I think they're called Harvestmen. You know, the ones with tiny bodies and really long legs that are thin like strands of hair.

Now I'm always in 2 minds with little critters on the pavement. Sometimes I opt to pick them up and place them out of harm's way. But at other times I tend to heed the advice of the sorcerer Don Juan, advice which I absorbed over 25 years ago, but is one of those things that has always really stayed with me. He said, that it is extremely arrogant of us, to presume that we know what is best, for little critters that might or might not get squished on the path.

And so on this occasion I chose not to be arrogant, not to interfere, but instead I stopped a little way further along the pavement, to discreetly observe the spider's journey.

It's a Saturday morning and it's a high street. So there were a lot of people, none of whom seemed aware of the little spindly spider making its way across their slipstream. Yet not one of them stepped on it either.

I have no idea how aware the spider was of the people or the potential danger of being randomly squished.
From my perspective it was like watching someone crossing a motorway blindfolded.

Until eventually the little fella did reach the relative safety of the curb. And then I carried on my way.....

saturday 04082007



Two Tales of Chance on a saturday morning:

PAVEMENT 1

Early this morning I exited the Housing Estate where I live, here in East London, and a little way along the pavement I noticed a bunch of keys. I picked them up, but I was unsure of what was the best thing to do with them. So I placed them on the railings nearby and carried on walking.

After a while I've turned into another road and I notice a man walking along with his very energetic young dog leaping up and down alongside him. The dog entertains my attention for the entire length of the road. And then at the end of the road, the man meets with a woman, and just as I'm passing them by I realise that he is saying to her something about "not being able to find them".

Of course I turned and said to him "have you lost some keys?"

Yes he had. And as added confirmation he went on to describe various components that were attached with them, such as a yellow plastic whistle and a bottle opener etc.

I lead him and his frisky little dog all the way back down the road and round the corner to where I'd placed them. And obviously he was very pleased.

But the amazing thing about this is the micro timing of events. If he hadn't met the woman, for instance, then he'd have had nobody to talk out loud to about losing the keys. And the fact that I passed him by just as he was talking about that topic. And the fact that my attention was on him in the first place, because of his dog, rather than me daydreaming as I passed him by and therefore I would have not been listening etc etc. The very fact that this man with his dog turned out to be the person who had lost the keys. The fact that I, in the role of a random passing stranger, actually knew where his keys were. The fact that I'd originated from the other road where he had dropped them in the first place. etc etc

PAVEMENT 2

A few hours later I was in North London when I noticed a spindly little spider walking across the busy pavement. I think they're called Harvestmen. You know, the ones with tiny bodies and really long legs that are thin like strands of hair.

Now I'm always in 2 minds with little critters on the pavement. Sometimes I opt to pick them up and place them out of harm's way. But at other times I tend to heed the advice of the sorcerer Don Juan, advice which I absorbed over 25 years ago, but is one of those things that has always really stayed with me. He said, that it is extremely arrogant of us, to presume that we know what is best, for little critters that might or might not get squished on the path.

And so on this occasion I chose not to be arrogant, not to interfere, but instead I stopped a little way further along the pavement, to discreetly observe the spider's journey.

It's a Saturday morning and it's a high street. So there were a lot of people, none of whom seemed aware of the little spindly spider making its way across their slipstream. Yet not one of them stepped on it either.

I have no idea how aware the spider was of the people or the potential danger of being randomly squished.
From my perspective it was like watching someone crossing a motorway blindfolded.

Until eventually the little fella did reach the relative safety of the curb. And then I carried on my way.....

comments (4)

  • jon
  • 4 Aug 2007, 21:36
Strange but true - although I have had a similar experience at Legoland of all places. The first ride of the day we found some keys in a ride and handed them in. At the end of the day we were elsewhere in the (huge amusement) park when I overheard a couple talking about their sudden discovery of the lost keys. I told them I had found some and then they recognised seeing "our lovely family" at the Firestation ride earlier - exactly where I'd picked them up!

Pavement 2 reminds me of when I tried to help a blind man across Tottenham Court Road in heavy traffic - only to receive a real bollocking for interfering!!! Ah well...
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 5 Aug 2007, 14:03
In praise of prose:
Lovely stories, Russell!

A minor comment:

Chance has nothing to do with "micro timing of events" so don't be too amazed.
Chance is chance.
To call it "micro timing" is to imply that some higher being [aka gawd] exists and is setting this all up.
So, my boy, just do penance in the form of 3 listerine [original flavour] mouth washes and we will all forgive that little lapse in your self-professed atheism.

From your excellent description, I think I can claim your "harvestmen" are called "daddy long legs" in some other parts of the world.

This morning I photographed a honeybee drowning in the swimming pool. It never crossed my mind that perhaps I should put away the camera and mount a rescue mission.
Am I therefore a callous prick?
Will I be doomed for all time to shovelling shiite in hell?
or
Am I to be proclaimed a champion for the theory of evolution?
russell higgs: my use of the words "micro timing of events" refers to the sequence of events as they actually happened. and that is the wonder of chance. if things had happened a moment sooner or a moment later he might not ever of got his keys back.

plus..... in order for me to "Lapse" (as you say) it would require me to have some pre-atheist component to my past life for me to "Lapse" back into. But I WASN"T EVEN BAPTISED AS A BABY. There is no pre-atheist version of me. I have never belonged to a religion.

re daddy long legs.... yeah I think of them as that name too, but daddy long legs are also crane fly, so I sidestepped that name.
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 5 Aug 2007, 15:08
Hi Russell
"lapse"
1. error: a momentary fault or failure in behavior or morality.
2. gap in continuity: a break in the continuity.

"Lapse" does not have to imply regression.

I am referring to yesterday's vehemence regarding organised religion and the gawd concept.

What I am saying is your professed amazement at the "micro timing...." suggests to this reader that your have opened the door to possibility of existence of the "Grand Puppeteer" aka "gawd".

I have no belief in, or need of, a "higher being".
russell higgs: yes, but what the words suggested to you as the reader, has nothing to do with my reality.

plus the word "Lapse" does have a common regressive association when it's contextualised, as here, with the topic of religion. ("Lapsed Catholic" etc etc)

my dictionary says "Lapse..... an abandonment of religious faith"

However, in my narrative account of yesterday morning's chance events, I was never referring to any "grand puppeteering". and I have no habit of lapsing into such things either.

my purpose was always and only to highlight just how wild and beautiful Chance and Chaos and Randomness can be etc
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 6 Aug 2007, 00:35
Hi Russell.
Your explanation "my purpose was always and only to highlight just how wild and beautiful Chance and Chaos and Randomness can be" is good stuff to me; in your example it has manifested itself as an apparent "micro timing of events". Now, that's cool!

One small comment:
Your "what the words suggested to you as the reader, has nothing to do with my reality." appears to be correct, given your new explanation of the purpose of the original words.

However, it is a bit of an odd thing to say about a conversation that you started.

It brings to mind the countless number of times I have seen it reported that politicians say something, then blame "mis-reporting" or "stupid public" or something like that when their view is criticised or becomes embarassing to them. It's a bit dis-honest, or at least arrogant, to denigrate the listener/reader for not understanding the unrevealed intent behind the words.

I think the art of communication is something about creating a common ground for the speaker's "reality" and the listener's understanding of the message delivered from within that reality. Otherwise you just have a jumble of abstract doodlings that may or may not have meaning....marks like a pigeon might make if it stepped in wet paint and then left tracks all over the footpath. I don't know your "reality"...only you can know that...so have to make do with my interpretation of your doodlings if I want to participate in a conversation; the only alternative is to withdraw from the conversation.
russell higgs: it's a case of asking you to pause before you denigrate me, the writer, with any accusations of doing something that I'm not doing (and your jokingly proposing a Listerine penance on top of it all). Your unjustified accusation tends to create a narrative diversion on the page. Your contextual inclusion of the word "Lapse" could leave another reader with the impression that I formerly had some kind of religious upbringing, which I did not.

Surely your first course of action is to simply ask if your misinterpretation is in fact what I intended.

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