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The divine rubber duck hypothesis


My sister thinks Noah (of the Ark) is following her around. And I don't mean this in the literal sense, my sister's not a crazy person, but rather in the symbolic.

Often when you become interested in something, that something then seems to appear in your life with greater frequency than before. This is a cognitive bias, and is often referred to as the Bader-Meinhof phenomenon (science! woo!). The thing isn't actually appearing more often, you're just noticing it where you wouldn't have before because you are more aware of it.

But I wonder how often people take this to be a sign, an affirmation that they are on the right path. How many of our decisions have been influenced by a shift in our awareness being taken for a sign from the universe.

I got waylaid on the street one afternoon a few years ago by a young mormon evangelist. He told me the story of how he came to be secure in his faith, how he had been questioning himself and his beliefs, and so he asked God for a sign. And he decided to himself that if God sent him a sign, then he was on the right road, he would continue his training and go on to try and spread the word throughout the world.

And then he sat and waited. And then, he got a stomach ache. And this stomach ache he took to be his sign, his communication from on high that God is real and that this young man was doing his work. Far be it from me to cast aspursions on the methods of the Almighty, but it seems to me that the young Mormon man had already made up his mind, and in the absence of any other, more divine seeming, signs, he was looking for any tangible moment that he could use to justify his decision to himself and to the world.

And this is my broader point, I think, about why the Bader-Meinhof phenomenon is often so comforting to us. We are looking for some kind of confirmation that what we're doing is right, which, for those of us who don't believe in a higher power, is a difficult thing to find. My sister is interested in the story of the Ark, and so it appears all around her, reaffirming her belief that it is something she should be researching.

For me, currently, it's rubber ducks. Hopefully if you're one of the maybe four people reading this blog, you also follow us on twitter and have seen that we are quite into rubber ducks at the moment. Now, sorry to disappoint you, but An Incident at the Border doesn't technically contain any rubber ducks (our version will, don't you worry). But it was an image we fixated on quite early on in proceedings, and it has been in my mind throughout the whole of production. We're using them in our marketing - watch out for a big rubber duck event this weekend - we are incorporating them into the show, for a little while the poster design was going to be rubber duck based although that didn't pan out. So now they're everywhere, and every time I see one it makes me smile, makes me feel like the world wants me to know that it's not entirely ridiculous to base an entire marketing campaign around a children's bath toy that doesn't actually feature in the play text.

And then I arrived in Dubai, and what should greet me at our host's apartment, but yet another rubber duck! He's wearing a tuxedo, obviously, because like, Dubai is FANCY y'all. But here he is, smiling at me, reminding me of everything that's going on back home and letting me know that rubber ducks are important, somehow.

Maybe that's all nonsense and the rubber ducks are just rubber ducks, and I'm just seeing what I want to see and taking whatever I want from it. But I don't see any problem with that. Just like the Mormon guy choosing to believe that his stomach ache was a direct message from God, I choose to believe that the international appearance of rubber ducks in my life means that my show is going to do well, and that makes me happier about my decisions, and more secure in what I'm doing. And that, as far as I'm concerned, is aaallll goood.

#lauren #imaginarylines #rubberducks #anincidentattheborder

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