20 Nov 2015 | Archive

In parallel with infinity

My name is Renato and I’m a comparer.

Photo; http://stupiddope.com/2011/08/10/yurikamome-high-speed-rail-line-photography-by-appuru-pai/

One of the pleasures in writing is that it allows the writer to highlight commonalities between places, things, ideas and people that appear to have nothing in common.

​I’m a fan of the world and especially the way it spins out parallels and incidents that almost, but not quite repeat each other. There’s something comforting in coincidence.​ This happened​ in a sad way this week when the fathers of two of my wife’s close friends died on the same day. The two men were not connected and neither were their respective daughters, the only link is my wife. The gents’ lives and deaths had nothing in common but somehow they have converged from parallel paths of life into a brief, grief arrowhead in my partner’s thoughts and feelings.

Coincidence and synchronicity are weird concepts, but they take bites out of our daily lives and we all have tales to tell. It seems that the randomness of the universe, if not quite governed by such events is in some way influenced by them and via a chain of ’cause & effect’, influences new happenings that are meaningful to some people some of the time, but mostly meaningless to most of us most of the time. The moments can invoke both tragic and magical feelings. They can create great joy (as in this case of a boy being reunited with his lost cat), scrape the skin of sadness (as above) or subtly elicit a ‘hmm, that’s interesting’ reaction while the person muses on the moment or lets it pass.


It has surely driven some people towards organised religion and sent others off in search for inner and outer meanings. My own reaction has always been to hold onto the moment and try really hard to see what else is being suggested. There’s a moment of truth that lurks momentarily beneath the surface before it dives down to the deep dark leagues to hide forever.

In an evening in March 1983 I was walking along the river side in Salzburg. In this dark late winter a heavy object sped through my peripheral vision and caused me to sharply cower as it careened past my head, raised its chalky feathered neck, flapped four metres of muscle wing and proceeded to crash into a bridge 10 metres in front of me. The vast swan fell, tail first with a thumping splash into the river. I hope it didn’t die, but I think it did.

When I got back to my hotel room and put on my Walkman earphones (young readers, a Walkman is like a 20th century iPod) and returned to listening to the remaining third of Marc Bolan’s song ‘Ride a White Swan‘. This was a coincidence, I had been hearing a song about a swan and forgotten it. Now I found myself straining for the connection and spent the rest of the evening walking around the old town looking for the other half of the Swan’s message. I’m still looking.

​I like minimalism.

I prefer modern art in modern galleries to old art and old galleries.​I like exhibitions where the venue is as interesting as the exhibits. I enjoy modernity with wide white spaces, architectural use of natural light and I like the fact that modernism has the option to use minimal paint ​(or bronze or clay or Plexiglas) ​and allow​s​ the observer to ​fill in the gaps from the over flow of their mind. ​Modernism uses the power of ​​suggestion and it can be more stimulating than lots of detail chucked on the canvas by a classical artist flashing his/her dexterity.

In a similar tone, I like the idea of travelling light. ​Somewhere in the 1990’s, PUMA the sports kit maker, started offering more than running shoes and highly desirable football boots and promoted a capsule kit for the constant tra​veller. The idea was marvellous. A hand luggage sized suitcase housed a dark non-crease suit ( a real one, not a track one), a pair of trainers that were so black they were as good as formal, a couple of shirts (probably blue and white) and as I recall, a grey lightweight packable raincoat. I regret never having bought it because it seemed so simple, neat and complete and the word CAPSULE not only had a cool Starman / Space Oddity vibe but also suggested ‘ This is it, it is all you’ll ever need. You are now self contained’. Yippee.

So ​given all the above, WHY THE HELL AM I SO MESSY?

I love the simple neat tidy approach. BUT I CANNOT MAINTAIN IT

Simplicity suggests such great qualities; planning, forethought and because it narrows down the options it means that is less time to procrastinate and contemplate.

I have recently re-designed my business cards. I go through this ritual each year when my old cards are depleting and I want a fresher identity. I spend hours both online and doodling on paper in writing the same old self descriptions; Lecturer Teacher, Coach, Assessor, Hotel expert…etc.  I have invested hours in creating acronyms e.g. CAT for Coach Assessor and Trainer and then (with my daughter’s assistance) COACH, AUTHOR TRAVEL only to regret having gone to print because the final piece had too much detail and was too confusing, even for me.

In the case of the over-the-top business cards it’s perhaps a case of me trying to define a self identity. If you have just one job, it’s easy for a card to state what you do. But when like me, you have a fixed job and freelance in other things too, your job title (WHAT YOU DO) is less important than WHO YOU ARE. I’d love my calling card to represent a singular idea but as it represents me, and I do several things, I guess that until I become famous and everyone thinks they know who I am, I’ll go on spelling it out. But it could be a long wait.

And while I wait I come to an uncomfortable conclusion; the multiple job titles, the cheeky jibes at classical art, the scribbles, the tens of half started note books and ALL THE STUFF is, annoyingly, me. It is me because beneath the consciousness I know that I have more chance of triggering off pleasing random coincidences than if I succeeded in being thoroughly tidy.

I said above that modern spaces with their cooling beams of whitish light allow the inner imagination to flourish and in some cases this can be true. But it’s when you stand on a middles ages river bank beneath gothic spires, wood beamed building fronts, ancient mountains and Mozart’s music chipping around from a chocolate box shop that you know you’re a little nearer to bringing parallel lines to a point of convergence.