I believe people are hardwired inside to look for patterns in life. I also think people who spend a lot of time nurturing their creativity tend to be especially good at this. Producing good writing, or good art, or music, or even doing things like software design or engineering…you have to take advantage of patterns. Beats and timing. Composition and color. Goal, motivation, conflict, and why people act the way they do. It’s all about being aware of patterns.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Every once in a while, I will see something. Or read, or hear, or whatever. A number, or a word, or a place, a concept. Nothing in of itself profound or noteworthy, and usually not even something I’d ordinarily think about. And my mind takes no notice of it…until I start to see it again, and again, in unexpected places, from unrelated sources. And once I’ve noticed it, naturally I start seeing it more.
Maybe it means nothing. Maybe it means something important, like a sign or a warning. Or maybe it didn’t mean anything until I noticed it, and now it’s up to me to decide what to do with it.
I have a collection of these. It feels like I’m collecting pieces of a puzzle, and that once I have them all laid out, they’ll all fall together and make some sort of sense.
Specifically, this is an age. Dropped as a little tidbit in a Sanderson book. The age Reinette from Doctor Who was when the clockwork droids wanted her. The age the main songwriter of Nightwish was when I started noticing this. 37. I also see it rather frequently as just a number.
Of all the random places in the world, why here? I don’t know. So many Doctor Who actors are Scottish. My mother happened to visit here. The guys in the Minecraft videos my son watches on YouTube have Scottish accents. The movie Brave. Tuomas’ Scrooge album. The Scottish independence vote. A gal at our church who still has the accent.
Actually, it’s more complicated than that. Specifically, that feeling that wells up inside when you’ve been lost, and suddenly you’re standing on the precipice of something and you’re feeling like the only direction left is up and out. That things are about to change for the better. It’s a Time Lord with all of time and space at his fingertips dropping into your backyard, holding out a hand and saying, “Come with me.” It’s Gandalf stopping by your house and offering to take you on an adventure. It’s finding out Gallifrey might still be out there. It’s basically this song:
And then there’s what I’ve collected specifically from the Doctor. Each incarnation of the Doctor has a lesson…either something I learned from him, or something he learns over the course of a particular regeneration.
Nine’s was Run. Ten’s was Don’t Blink. And Eleven’s was Remember.
Run, because life never slows down. Run to things before they flare and fade. Run to the next adventure, run to the person you are becoming. Don’t blink, because life is fast and you don’t want to miss it. Don’t blink, because the next time you wake up, Shallam could be gone and Pentharian could be dead. Don’t blink, because now there will never be a Mrs. Doubtfire 2. And never forget where and who you’ve been. Not one day, not one line, don’t you dare. Remember. Because your memory is fine, and the past really is like that. Remember.
This is all tangled up in that overarching concept of Hope. Maybe it’s the practical bits.
And then there’s the one that’s been cropping up over the last few months: a general reinforcement of my own agnosticism.
My favorite show stars a time-traveling alien who, given everything he’s seen and done, really couldn’t be anything other than agnostic in his views. All the wonder in the universe and he doesn’t feel the need to try and explain it, or contain it, or conquer it. He just wants to see it. And despite how awful humanity can be, he manages to show individual people just how brilliant, and important, they really are.
Nightwish has just released an album that basically celebrates life and evolution and the earth. And it’s not the hopeless, imaginative, childlike, majestic sort of yearning that’s permeated every other album they’ve put out, either…this one is different. This one has a maturity and a gravitas that’s new, for them. I listen to Endless Forms Most Beautiful and for the first time, I feel like the music is me. This is exactly where I am. Whatever it was that the last seven albums have been chasing, they’ve caught it. And I feel like I’ve finally caught up, like I’ve finally learned to mentally run with the music instead of running after it.
It makes me want to be worthy of it, and simultaneously makes me feel like I already am.
And ironically, EFMB is probably the most openly atheistic album I own. It feels like the universe reassuring me that religion doesn’t have a monopoly on beauty, and on meaning, and on significance. “There is grandeur in this view of life…” For someone in my particular circumstance, where I am constantly surrounded by theists who, well-meaning or not, cannot imagine anything or anyone or any belief in this world having meaning without a Creator…it’s nice to be reminded that not everyone feels that way.
37, Scotland, Hope (run, don’t blink, and remember), and the reassurance that I’m agnostic because that really is what I believe…not just because I can’t make up my mind.
I have no idea how all these things fit together, or whether they ever will. As I said, maybe that will be up to me in the end.