“Explanations are such cheap poetry” – Stephen King
It’s funny. I don't believe in a religious higher power, I don't think there is a person watching over us. controlling us or judging us. In the past I've said things like “I believe in Science...“I believe in the planet” as if not believing in a God means I can only believe in cold, hard fact; in what can be explained. Actually, I think my beliefs are somewhere in between; straddling the unexplainable and the proven.
This week, as Bart told me the story of a friend who has had an exorcism performed at their house, I realised that I had accepted every word of the story without question. It didn’t even occur to me NOT to believe the story. I believe in Ghosts and I believe in other invisible, intangible forces too.
I believe in Serendipity. Life is peppered with so many connections and coincidences, I feel as thought there must be some kind of cosmic order. it's like there are certain, significant, things; people, places or experiences meant for me. When I’m open to them they draw me in like a magnet. They are powerful and important, they alter the course of my life, they ARE my life.
When I stop trying to control things, I can sense those forces at work; thoughts that pop into my head and won’t go away, the feeling that I’ve always known a person I’ve just met, tiny shells scattered on my bedroom floor. They’re the whisperings and happenings of the Universe that I frequently and easily miss but when I listen to them, when I act on them…that’s when important things happen.
On the day we looked around the house that’s now our home, we also looked around a flat. The house was in a pretty bad state, some of the rooms hadn’t been decorated since the 70’s and there was this aura of decay. It was intimidating. The flat was spacious, airy and beautifully finished. It was close to the sea and close to the train. A young family were living there. It seemed perfect. We made an offer on the flat and we were absolutely sure we wanted it.
Then we got in the car to go home, and I can remember it so clearly, I was looking out of the window and this feeling of acute anxiety came over me. I kept thinking about the house; the pictures of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis hanging on the walls (Some Like it Hot is my favourite film), the ease with which Eli moved from room to room; as if he had always been there. I had this emotional connection with the house and it was almost as if it was talking to me.
I told Bart (who didn’t think I was crazy, who never thinks I’m crazy). It turned out he was also having reservations but for different reasons. And so, the next day we made an offer on the house. A house that became ours despite a number of setbacks that threatened to ruin the whole thing.
In March 2015, a few months later than planned, we moved in. As we began stripping back the layers of dusty cobwebs, ancient wallpaper and ragged curtains we found treasure. Heart shapes in the bannisters that we hadn’t noticed on any of our visits, love letters written in WW2, old newspapers and photographs. The house had a story to tell, it’s like it wanted to be ours.
Back in 2003, I completed two weeks work experience at a little publishing house in East London. At the end of that fortnight I was offered a permanent job with the publisher, an amazing job that would have taken me all over the world but I turned it down because the following week I had been offered work experience at the BBC. I had a very strong feeling that I should take that chance. I didn’t know what, if anything, would come of it but I wasn’t afraid. It was the thing I had to do.
Three weeks later, on a beautifully sunny May day, I walked through the gates of BBC Elstree as an official employee. Standing in the roadway was a tall, skinny guy in a stripy jumper with sunglasses on his head. A friend introduced him and explained that he was a cameraman on our show. He was friendly and funny. I liked him straight away. Reader... I didn’t marry him but 13 years later we have created a beautiful, full, life together and if I hadn't listened to my gut, it might never have happened.
There is magic at work in the fabric of life, there is no distinction between science and magic, between reality and fiction. The most beguiling scientific discoveries are the ones that reveal to us the impossible poetry of our existence, the best fairy tales are founded on truth and sometimes our most successful decisions are often the ones we make on a feeling, an inexplicable gut instinct that drives us towards the thing we most need.