A while ago, on a Saturday morning, I visited the Oxfam bookshop and walked out with three books: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Manage your day-to-day by 99U and Quiet by Susan Cain. I read them all by the end of the weekend.
As is often the way with such trips, you cannot presume you will find what you want, but you do sometimes find what you need. I wonder if the Oxfam bookshop, or the library, is a kind of subconscious lucky dip: you take a punt and may end up with a prize. But in this case the prize is often something you have been looking for anyway.
Having started with The Happiness Project, and being inspired by the notion of making those things we do every day have deeper meaning and beauty, I moved onto the 99U publication which is more work-focused and practically minded. Inside I found a chapter on the importance of routine and frequency, written by Gretchen Rubin. It was pleasing to find her here, continuing to promote her ideas that we are the things we do most often, and as such, we should make the most of them. Hers was a brief voice amongst many, but the familiarity and the connection to the book I’d already read meant that I enjoyed the other chapters more; they felt relevant to me by association. The last book, Quiet, was one that I had been meaning to read for a while, having been on a workshop with Pete Mosley for introverts and quiet people, and having discussed at length with my partner (who is himself an introvert) the experiences of people who find social situations draining. Flicking through the review blurb pages at the front I was surprised, and yet not at all, to find Gretchen Rubin again.
Three books and three appearances of the same author. Mentioning this to my partner, later, he supposed that it’s not that much of a coincidence if Gretchen has become an authority on the subject of happiness in the everyday, especially as her book covers areas of life from relationships, family dynamics and friends to money, health, work and hobbies: her work is applicable to almost every area of study. I had just found myself tapping into a network that is already established, and is current, without having any prior knowledge of it existing.
And this is ‘the interconnectedness of things’. Which is a fun game I like to play with the universe, where I notice the links and find the connections between things. Sometimes it’s obvious, like the Gretchen occurrences, and other times it’s subtle, like when you watch a movie and then find within it references to something else you’ve just read or seen or done, or you notice the same actor pops up in all the things you watch. The game only works if you are open to noticing these things, if you are happy for your mind to wander and to pick up scraps and fragments on the way.
There are times when the game seems to stop, when the universe doesn’t seem to offer you any moments of serendipity, and these are often accompanied by those times when I find myself flat, lacking in energy, a bit low. The game only works when both of us are fully invested, the universe and me. And when we are, wondrous and magical things seem to happen, things which pertain completely and utterly to me. That, too, is the joy of the game; the universe offers things which seem to resonate only for me - it feels like a private and personal dialogue.
I am sure the universe is playing this game with countless others, all the time, and I believe that it’s also waiting, ready, for those who have yet to discover the game exists, who did not know that they could be part of it. Those people who only need to be open and willing, observant and non-judging, for the interconnectedness of things to become apparent.