Thursday, 6 March 2008

A Metaphor for Life?

Over the past couple of weeks I have given three talks on the subject of luck and destiny. Actually, I gave much the same talk three times to different audiences under a slightly different title each time. The only person to sit through all three talks was Rachel (sorry Rach!). To be fair, I did make some changes each time, adding bits and dropping other bits as appropriate, so I think even Rachel would agree that the third talk was probably the best of the three.

Anyway, the first and the third talks I had known about for some time. The first was a talk as part of the Invited Speaker Series at the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit (APRU) at Goldsmiths College, University of London. I had been invited to give a talk by Professor Chris French, head of the APRU, who I have known for around 15 years (!) and with whom I came close to studying for a PhD before starting my PhD on the psychology of luck at the University Hertfordshire. The third talk was at Liverpool Hope University, where I have worked for the past eight years or so, and was part of the University's Foundation Hour programme. Foundation Hour is held 1-2pm each Wednesday and is an opportunity for the University's staff and students to come together and listen to an inspiring and uplifting talk (!).

The second talk of the three, however, was a last-minute arrangement. It was for a group called 'Skeptics in the Pub', which meet each month in London in (no surprises here...) a pub. I was asked to stand in for a speaker who was unable to make it, and so I agreed. For some reason, I was really nervous before giving this talk. And I mean really nervous. As it turned out, it seemed to go fine. However, the reason I mention it here is because of an email I received a day or so after the talk from someone who had been there, and who had subsequently taken a look at this blog. He, like me, had only recently started to learn to play the guitar, although he's now been learning for about 4 years. In his words (and I'm hoping he won't mind me including them here):
Congrats on the guitar lessons. I'm 33 and started guitar when I was almost 29. Stick with it - it gets better after a year or so. Eventually there's a shift when you stop feeling like you're playing catch-up to the demands of the tune, and instead suddenly you really feel like you're driving each note. It's the coolest thing.
Not only did these words reassure me that learning the guitar gets easier after a year or so (and I am finding this), but they also made me think of them as a possible metaphor for life... that is, there comes a time where you don't feel as though you're going through life trying to keep up with the pace being dictated to you by others ("playing catch-up to the demands of the tune"), but instead you start feeling as though you're in control of your life ("suddenly you really feel like you're driving each note"). And when that happens, like the man says, it's the coolest thing.

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