The nature of patterns

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I’d kind of like to be though, because it does sound kind of fun, being able to believe in all those connections, those wild connections between politicians and weather and dates and history and cat food brands…or something like that. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Much as I’d like it to be otherwise, I kind of just believe that JFK was shot by a mad bloke, not that I was there.

But – and here’s the thing – I do believe in patterns. It’s a left-handed thing, apparently, although I’m sure there are a lot of right-handed people out there who notice the same things I do, and a lot of right-handed conspiracy theorists. But there you go, left-handed people tend to notice patterns a lot – and that in itself is a pattern. Oh. I read about that one long before I noticed it though.

I LOVED reading the comments on Friday’s post about birth stories and personalities. I’m so pleased and excited that it’s not just me, that other parents can notice similar connections. Not that any of it means anything really, but it’s fun, and funny, and makes the universe a more interesting place to be. Have any of you who are married or in long-term relationships noticed another pattern too – that morning people marry night people? That people who fold their toilet paper marry people who scrunch? That people who bite into their Easter Eggs marry people who prefer to break them? There’s a pattern here too, folks – we’ve tested this theory a few times and it’s seems pretty…oh, I was going to say “universal” until I realized that you could hardly call toilet paper or Easter Eggs that. But you know what I mean.

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but I do believe in a God in Heaven who’s really not limited by our understanding, and sometimes I wonder if God is left-handed too, or if some of these patterns I see around me are actually God’s doing. I’ve learned, as I’ve got older, that if I’m feeling lonely and isolated and depressed there’s a high chance that my friends are feeling it too, like some kind of seasonal flu (and have you ever noticed the times that you’re feeling lonely and isolated that you just presume everyone else is happy and you don’t want to bother them? Oh, is that just me). If I’m feeling stretched to the end of my capabilities then yes, quite often I find that my closest buddies are feeling the same thing in their own lives or their own little corners of the world, as if a stretching rain has come, or a lonely sunshine, and we all feel it, together.

2012 Calendar

I’ve found that 2012 has been a stretching, dramatic, pivotal year for a lot of people. It’s been a good year for me, in the way that, say, an amputation of a gangrenous leg is good – even without an anaesthetic. I’m smiling, although my gritted teeth are aching a little by now. Some years are like that – I haven’t had one this memorable for a while. 1993 was one too, a memorable, gangrenous-leg kind of year.

And…here’s the weirdest of the patterns I’ve ever noticed, the remarkable thing that makes me stop and wonder about the nature of God and the universe: the people I know that have had big, earth-shattering leg-amputating years this year, in 2012, also seem to have had enormous, gangrenous-leg experiences in 1993.

I don’t read anything into that. I can’t, because I will be wrong. My brain just isn’t big enough to think that much outside of the box to come up with anything that’s not just silly. I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

But I believe.

How about you? Have you had an enormous and memorable 2012? Have you ever noticed patterns like this in the lives of people around you? Do you like conspiracy theories too?

Happy birthday baby!

The birthday girl

This precious bunny turns nine today. My firstborn. Can’t believe how grown up she is now, and how sweet. I went into labour early. Two weeks early, to be exact, which isn’t mean to happen with first babies – everybody knows that. My other half knew that, which is why he booked so many appointments leading up to her due date, “so I could get them out of the way before the baby came”. I called him early on a Friday afternoon to tell him my waters had broken, and by the time I got into his work two hours later he was still on the phone trying to reschedule people. Turns out that bubby had stage fright though, and didn’t show up until last thing that Sunday, and that was with an awful lot of help.

That’s typical of her, that is. Always ahead of where she needs to be, but does the last-minute panic and doubts herself, and needs loads of coaxing.

My second-born’s birth experience was completely different. He was a (ooooouuuuch) posterior delivery. That’s typical of him, too: right on time, but has a knack for making things much more complicated than they need to be.

And the third was straightforward. Just like him.

Have you ever noticed a pattern between birth and personality? Hmmmm. Have you ever noticed that I can read something deep and meaningful into just about anything?

Two minutes thirty four: a fictional meditation on consuming time.

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Two minutes thirty four

 

 

Brittany Taylor

Melbourne, Australia

GMT + 10

Local time Tuesday 3:53pm

 

…except Mrs Fitzpatrick is always nicer to Penny than she is to me. It’s because Penny has perfect pigtails and is…does this pencil need sharpening? Legs crossed…uncrossed…

oh, it’s Tuesday…Mum said I could watch that new show after school if I get my homework finished on time, with that girl detective on it…that circle becomes a swirl becomes a flower with leaves that weave in through the margin…

When I’m eleven me and Penny are going to start our own detective agency, and then we’ll get so famous that Justin Bieber will come to us when his money gets stolen and the police can’t find it…legs crossed…

Except Justin will like me better than Penny because…

what is seven times nine, I can’t remember…colour in that flower …why will he like me better?

is that meant to be a six?…oh eleven is so ages away…wish I could just click my fingers and bam! It’s the future!…because then I’ll have much longer hair than her…

If Mum won’t let me be a detective I’ll be a ballerina…

 

Precious Mgabana

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

GMT + 3

Local time Tuesday 7:53am

 

…yelling because I can see his mouth move in big, slow streaks across his face but there is so much noise…get that boy off my peppers… chicken squawks in my ear hope it sells soon, some tasty fried chicken is good for market day…yes that is my eggfruit, grows in my garden, very good, I give good price…

            aaaiiiieee…these whitefolk they hold their noses and wrap their faces…come, taste my bungo fruit, it is good, yes?…

            …the mouths are moving again…Mzumbe’s boy has his bongo today…wears his American cap the wrong way on his head thinks he looks so important…

            Akili is smiling like her face is carved…what she hold?…where you get that money…aaaiii…they like the good chicken…my girl is clever at market…you go, go find Andwele…

            that girl…she dream of going to university in Johannesburg when she is old enough…like I used to dream when I was her age…I don’t tell her yet that every day is the same in Africa…there is no tomorrow but for next market day…

           

Elaine Paterson

London, England

GMT (0)

Local time Tuesday 4:53am

 

…why watches and me don’t go together. How many have I had in the last few years that stopped working…more hot water…where’s that new shampoo bottle?…

            Jim says he simply can’t drive me in so early…is that enough… lather…rinse…oh God did I call and arrange the taxi last night or did I decide to do it this morning…why did I buy that conditioner it always makes my hair fluffy and today of all days I just don’t have time…lather…comb…I didn’t. I made a cup of chamomile and went to bed…oh HECK…rinse…quick…

            if I miss that plane…water off…oh blast that sticking door slider, why hasn’t Jim fixed that yet…towel…quick…underpants…well I just can’t miss it, that’d be my job gone and then how would we live…hairdryer…lipstick on…shoes on…is that the taxi beeping…no…he doesn’t understand there are still bills to pay and we’ve still got that second mortgage…did I put those documents in my bag already?…

            it’s not like I can simply step into another job at my age, and after all I’ve invested in the company…Jim’s just going to have to miss his morning coffee…

            I mean it’s not as if I enjoy getting up before dawn really, just to go to a conference…but in this day and age we live…

 

Shirley Long

Boston, USA

GMT – 5

Local time Monday 11:53pm

 

…but really it was too late to talk…breathe in…out…

Stephanie said she’s coming in the morning…baby girl, all grown up…

my first grandchild… breathe in…She married a man…

a mathematician. Eric, that’s his name.

He kept talking about the hours we spend, counting down my years in days…breathe out…and minutes

so many. Too many to count any more, I don’t want to know…

Funny…for the young that bank of hours seems so much less precious. Minutes and whole days consumed like saltine crackers, eaten up without thinking…breathe in…

Lord…teach them to number their days wisely…breathe out…

I see it all so much more clearly now that it’s nearly gone. No pain now…no movement…breathe in…

All I have left is these two things, and soon – soon please Lord – time will be gone…breathe out…breathe in…and prayer…oh to see you face to face at last…will be no longer needed…

The pattern of journeys.

When we were younger and only very new Christians, my other half and I used to go to Youth With A Mission meetings with a whole bunch of our friends. We liked them. The music was great, and there were always different people telling interesting stories about interesting things. After a while though a lot of the stories started sounding the same. Patterns started forming.

Youth With A Mission are a…you guessed it…Missions organization. They take…you guessed it…youth…out on…oh yes…Missions trips to various places around the world. The first pattern I noticed was this: that the trip was going to cost the speaker so-and-so thousand dollars, and all the speaker had was $13.70, two McDonald’s vouchers and a sleeping bag, and he needed the money by last Tuesday midnight. The speaker and his family had all prayed and believed and trusted in God, and lo and behold, at 11.58pm there was a knock on the door and a complete stranger with so-and-so thousand, or a sudden car sale, or a spontaneous idea for a cupcake competition, or something. There was always the Something.

The next pattern I noticed was this: the speaker had always had a lifelong aversion to one particular place. Hated Canadians with a passion (allergic to ice hockey?), or had a crazy distrust of Russians, or Japanese fisherman, or something. And that, Canada, Russia, Japan…wherever…was always the place that God had called the speaker to go to.

There was a third pattern too. Now that the speaker had the money (miraculously) and had amazingly dealt with all his previous misgivings about said destination and was now in love with the place and its people, Something Happened when he was over there.

Something big and life-changing. Something that, because he was away from all the trappings of familiarity and routine and all the things he took for granted, God was suddenly able to deal with. So not only is there the financial miracle and the complete change-of-heart, but there’s this lovely heart-warming ending where he’s suddenly reconciled to his father, or understands for the first time some deep place inside him, or has made peace with a deep and awful trauma from years before.

Well there’s the patterns.

Well. And here I am. We’ve had our financial “miracle” already. And I really shouldn’t mention the fact that for many years I was very negative about America…particularly California (ouch. I’m sorry. I said I wouldn’t mention it!). So here we are, right on track for #3.

I know it’s going to happen. I knew two years ago, when I first felt…whatever you’d like to refer to it as…the call of God, perhaps…the nudge to go to the US. I knew it was going to come down to this. I’ve been trying to avoid it…or at least make sure I deal with it ahead of time. But here we are.

Does that suck, I hear you ask? Why, yes it does. Sucks like a Dyson with a dog-vacuuming attachment. My other friend who vacuums her dog (This is my friend Bernie and her husband Steve. She’s the one who vacuumed her dog until the dog ate the attachment. It has no particular relevance to this story, but…she knows why this pic is there. Cheers Bern! Love you babe xxx)

Yes, I’m laughing at myself. And I’m serious, all at the same time. I’m laughing at myself for being so serious. I’m sure it will happen. Although, knowing me, I’m stressing about nothing, and it’ll be more like a splinter removal than giving birth. I’ll still stress about it though. I’m weird like that. And I know that if I was ten years’ younger I’d be even-more-convinced of my rightness, and stressing enormously. I get the feeling from my extremely-wisest friend, too, that if I was ten years older I wouldn’t be worried about it at all. But I’m me. And…I wrote this last night, and when I got up this morning there was an email from the wonderful Wanderer’s blog (I love this woman’s writing), and SHE had a link to this, which kind of confirms both a) I’m right and b) it’s going to be okay. It really is.

So tell me what you think. Have you gone to the other side of the world and come back changed? Or have you gone to the other side of the world and come back UNchanged? What was it like for you?