Maybe it’s my Irish heritage, but I’m always on the lookout for ‘signs’. Good signs that I’m on the right track with something. Signs that things will work out. Positive vibes. Serendipitous coincidences…
Last Monday, I needed some. My colleague, composer Sally Whitwell and I were taking our first, tentative steps out of the DropBox with our musical based on my teen novel, Unrequited: Girl meets boy band. It was being featured at a music-theatre event in Sydney, called Broadway Unplugged. Oh. My. Goodness. Nerve-wracking!
Signs came thick and fast. We had difficulty with a ticketing issue and an unsettling conversation with a member of staff. Returning the car, we found a $106 parking ticket for facing the wrong way to the curb. We got lost on the way out of of the City. The highway McDonald’s had shut up shop minutes before we rolled into its car park after midnight on the way home, hoping for an injection of caffeine…
Could it all mean that we’re on the wrong track?
Well, it could have, if we’d chosen to focus on that stuff. Instead, we noticed other signs.
The lead character in the story, Kat, sings in the chorus of the Sydney University Theatre Company’s production of the Legally Blonde musical, held at the Seymour Centre. Driving past the Seymour Centre, we noticed the Sydney University Theatre Company is actually, right now, staging Legally Blonde.
Sally recounted the story of walking past the same theatre, only to see a young woman run out of it in tears, followed by someone else calling after her, yelling, “Kat! Kat!”
I was stopped directly outside the door of the theatre where our show would be featured, by a little old lady with a walking stick, who wanted to admire my umbrella. It’s only then that I noticed she was wearing a One Direction t-shirt (the band that inspired the book when my daughter wasn’t a fan of reading, but was a fan of Harry Styles).
We tend to zero in on anything that supports our current obsession. The more we look for ‘signs’, the more we’ll see.
We had obstacles that day. Plenty of them. But the goal was brighter, and searching for evidence to back that up was more productive than sinking into a funk.
It reminded me of the time my three best school friends turned forty, and went away together for a long weekend. I took a copy of Pam Grout’s book, ‘E Squared’, which contained a series of fun experiments designed to prove that this stuff works. One of the experiments demanded you count how many purple feathers you see in a 24-hour period.
Purple feathers? Who’d ever seen one in their entire lives, let alone more than one? Pfft!
Not two hours later, during a fireside viewing of The Importance of Being Earnest on DVD, out swished Dame Judi Dench, resplendent in an elaborate purple outfit, heavily accessorised with a hat exploding with purple feathers!
What’s more, the next morning, we wandered the craft markets in a local village. Shop after shop contained purple-feather-themed wares… dream-catchers, mobiles, scarves, hats, paintings… where the expectation had been to see not one purple feather, the reality was there were hundreds!
There are signs everywhere. Even if bad stuff happens, when we’re looking for the good signs, we’ll see them.