Two Degrees of Separation
Paris takes six degrees of separation and turns it into two or even less.
“Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of ‘a friend of a friend’ statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and popularized by a 1990 play written by John Guare.” (Wikipedia.org)
If you consider that the city of Paris is a connecting point, then it’s no wonder that the entire ‘universe’ (or at least this one) seems to connect within one or two degrees from Paris, particularly when considering the American community. Almost a single day does not pass that coincidences of this nature occur, yet Sunday it happened MANY times.
* As I was typing an email to a friend who does not live full time in Paris (Australian) to arrange for a lunch date this week while she’s here…as I was sitting at Café Charlot at my usual table…in she walked! I didn’t need to send the email, of course!
* While I was emailing my sisters about all the wonderful condolence letters we have received, I realized that I was sitting in the very same spot alongside the very same friend drinking the same drink at the very same moment exactly three weeks later as when I got the news of my mother’s passing. (Déja Vu,”** although this was LITERALLY “déja vu.”)
* At the same moment that my daughter was texting me about this wonderful client of hers, I received an email from the very same person, who inquired about renting my apartment in Nice and a few moments later a ‘deal’ was struck!
All of this happened in the space of about 30 minutes. Multiply that by 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the likelihood of six degrees of separation reducing to two compounds.
The theory of separation is not far afield from “Synchronicity,” a phrase coined by psychiatrist Carl Jung, “which holds that events are ‘meaningful coincidences’ if they occur with no apparent causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.” (Wikipedia.org)
Of course, Paris alone makes many of the coincidences ‘causal,’ rather than ‘acausal,’ but that’s where the six degrees, or in this case, two degrees, of separation come in and make an impact.
The people who ‘slide’ in and out of Paris are all connected by the transportation system, if nothing else. Most all of us have flown in and out of the city via Charles de Gaulle Airport, thereby connecting all of us via this one major hub, if by nothing else. How many times have you surprisingly seen a friend or acquaintance board your same flight? This may not be acausal, but it could be meaningful, as was the case at Café Charlot when my lunch date friend was in front of me while I was typing out an email to her.
Synchronistic situations happen to me so often that for a while I was keeping a record of them in a diary until it became too time consuming. With each situation, I realized I must be in the right place at the right time for so many ‘planets to have aligned’ at once. No doubt, the path I’m on is the one that was meant to be followed.
The American community in Paris quite large — estimated to be in the many dozens of thousands (no one really knows), but everyone seems to know everyone within as little as two degrees of separation. The concentric circles are always turning, changing and overlapping to the point that it can feel more like a tiny fish bowl than a city of millions.
It’s what’s so nice about it, too. When you live in Paris as an Expat, you are never anonymous and never alone. There is an extended family that binds you together and binds you to Paris. If you want to leave your native home in an effort to ‘get lost’ here, don’t even try — it isn’t possible. Somewhere, sometime, you will ‘bump into’ that old acquaintance from home and realize that you’re really only two degrees apart.
** Note: “Déjà vu”: meaning from French “literally ‘already seen,’ is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has been experienced in the past, which is often not the case. (Wikipedia.org)
A la prochaine,
The Adrian Leeds Group
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