26 Jun 2009

rubber ducky, you’re the One

Posted by Teapots Happen

June 5, 2007

I was in downtown Seattle for a conference.

I’d flown in two nights before, and had been having a great time randoming around town, getting into the flow, oogling entropic beauty, and sneaking into tunnels with newfound partners in victimless crime.

~ — ~

The next morning, I woke up around seven and walked to the conference center through the rain, which was the heaviest I’d seen there yet – not a downpour by any means, but not the lightt misting rain from the previous day, either.


view from the hotel window - bay almost visible over the rooftops

Being a Minnesotan, the chill was no problem – but I didn’t really want to have to sit through the afternoon sessions with puddles in my pants.

Crossing over the railroad tracks and Alaskan Way on the “skybridge” (aren’t they all?), I made a note to self and reality that I could use an umbrella – I’d pay attention on my end, and asked that reality provide on its end.

After breakfast, I was going to skip the morning debate – Bid Management is not a part of my job, and I needed to spend some time by the water. Even though it’s next to impossible to find an inch of shoreline in Seattle that isn’t piers or docks or otherwise developed, I was determined to make due with whatever I could find.

Magic, negative ions or evo-psychological programming, there’s simply something about the water that kicks ass, whatever it is. And being from a landlocked homeland, I was starved for the refreshing that only time spent with Big Water can provide.

But first I needed to ditch the laptop I was carrying – a friend of mine was staying at the Edgewater Hotel, right next to the conference, and she’d agreed to hold onto the laptop while I traipsed up the shoreline. We met in the lobby, where I noticed a blue umbrella propped in the corner behind the concierge podium.

No one objected when I befriended it on my way back out, and so my new umbrella and I started walking along the waterline, with downtown Seattle to my right and Puget Sound to my left. Jellyfish bobbed in the waves, unconcernedly straddling the imagined line between a colony of single celled organisms and a multi-cellular organism.

I hadn’t gone far when the rainfall started to slowly taper away – just as the shoreline turned from piers and docks to a rocky shore. I was glad to be able to fold up the umbrella and use it as a walking stick, as I left the running path and clambered down among the stones – which were slippery with a varigated green scum of seaweeds and algae. Finally, I felt like I’d gotten close to the water – no railing or 15 foot drop preventing me from getting near enough to feel the spray.

I moved slowly up the shoreline, looking to see what the waves might have washed ashore for me.


rocks slippery with rocks

rocks slippery with life

As it often seems to do, the ocean began to strip away my normal perspectives, and I found myself idly pondering the umbrella, and how almost as soon as I’d put the mental call out for one, one had appeared. Most me me wasn’t having any of it, though – finding the umbrella was nothing weird, not even really a coincidence – rainy Seattle had to be the umbrella capital of the world, after all.  (or so I’d thought – as natives later informed me, almost no one in Seattle actually uses umbrellas.)

But regardless, something was building in me, or around me, through me – and in spite of myself, I felt the ocean vibe sinking in – a mystical flashback from my experience on the Point Reyes coast, maybe – and I soon found myself pondering our self-generated realities, and the evidence for unaccountable blurring between our minds and our ‘external’ environments.

Which was, itself, was just one step toward blurring of all distinctions – the hallmark mystical experience – the ‘oneness of all things.’

I wasn’t there yet, but I was on the path.

I watched the sky and the waves and thought about rainy day weather – how here, in a different city, by the water, a grey, cloudy & rainy sky was both beautiful and stimulating – yet a grey day at home could create a bad mood that seemed mandated by the sky, an internalized gloom both inevitable and inescapable.

I determined to try to remember this vista and feeling the next time I was feeling flat-lined by a grey day – that euphoria is found where you make it, and beauty where you look for it, and that this is just as true in rainy weather as it is when it’s gorgeous – you can’t change the weather, but you can change your mind. (Hopefully, anyway.)

Suddenly, my wandering thoughts were derailed as I was struck with a powerful compulsion to stop walking, bend over, and examine a particular patch of rocks and debris.

Although I told myself I’d probably subconsciously seen something interesting down there, the intuitive voice I was ‘hearing’ felt familiar from my last visit to the west coast – the one that eventually led me from California to a paradigm knocked off its foundations, in the crawlspace beneath my own house.

I immediately picked up a rounded rock marked by several intersecting rings of various thicknesses – it was pretty cool, I’d keep it – but although I didn’t see anything else noteworthy, I felt rooted there, bent over at the waist, eyeing the ground.

So I picked up a piece of seaweed that interested me – an algal surface surrounding a twin-lobed pocket of trapped air, a living green ballon. This was neat, but it wasn’t what I was looking for, either.

Then I glanced to my right, back toward the walking path and, beyond that, Seattle’s skyline. There was a bright yellow something in a crack, a couple of feet beneath a boulder, only visible due to my low angle. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked an awful lot like a rubber ducky. Hmmm – hadn’t Mandy (my girlfriend) told me about how as  a little girl she used to take baths with several rubber duckies at a time?

I’d just decided that I would retrieve it to bring back for her as a gift from Seattle, when doubt crept in. My memory is a hole, and I can’t usually trust it. Was this something I made up, or worse, was it actually some other girl that had a thing for rubber duckies?

Just as this question crossed my mind, my cellphone started to vibrate in my pocket.

In the mental state I was in, I was instantly convinced that it had to be Mandy, calling just at the moment I was wondering about her. When I saw that it was, I laughed aloud, and the sense of some kind of moment building grew stronger.

“Do you like rubber duckies?”, I asked, by way of greeting.

My memory hadn’t misled me – she’d had a collection of them as a girl. I told her how good the timing was, her calling me just then – she told me that she was at work, when she’d been hit by a sudden urge to call me – even though she’d figured I was in a conference session.

As I picked my way toward the ducky crack, I told her about the serendipitous umbrella and my thoughts about the rain and grey skies.

By the time I’d caught her up, I’d started groping in the crack, trying to pull out the duck. However, I could just barely get my fingers on the base, and when I tried to pull it out there was no room for both the duck and my fingers on it. So I propped the cellphone to my head with one shoulder, and used a rock to knock out a brick that was part of the problem.

“OK, I think I’ve got it now,” I said, and reached in.

I wish I could have seen my face when I pulled it out and discovered that the smiling duck was, itself, holding an umbrella.


Rainy Day Duckie

Rainy Day Ducky and friends

Mandy actually didn’t believe me at first, as I laughed and babbled – I’d already thought her calling when she had was weird, to then to find this smiling duck – marked on the bottom as a “Rainy Day Duck” – while on the phone with her talking about having fun in spite of rainy weather and of umbrellas – was enough to convince me again, at least for that moment that yes, the universe was all one thing, and you bet it was alive, and of course it was talking to itself, all around and through us.

When I decided to use the umbrella as a specimen bag – an over-the-shoulder hobo-style carryall for the rocks and driftwood and detritus I was rapidly accumulating – I noticed for the first time that the umbrella had a logo on it  – a swirling, wavey logo with the all-too-apt “Seattle Waterfront.”

(the umbrella handle had broken off from the weight of the rocks, so I gutted it to take the fabric home)


None of the coincidences – the found umbrella, the intuition that led me to see the duck, the phone call just then, the rainy day duck with umbrella, the apt umbrella logo – were a big deal on their own. Some of them are barely coincidences. And even strung together into one long chain as they were as I experienced them, I know they aren’t objectively amazing – especially to a skeptical mind.

So I’m not surprised or offended if none of this means shit to you, gentle reader – but to me, it was a confirmation, a blessing, a ‘what’s up’ from the omniverse.

In that moment, caught up as I was in such thoughts of synchronicity and intuition and reality-creation, high on life, the water, and everything – it was as though I’d peeked beneath the skirts of reality just the tiniest bit – and I’d really liked what I saw there.

“Thanks, Seattle,” I muttered aloud through a huge grin. Then I felt like I should turn to face the water – and so I did – adding, “thanks, ocean.” (Yeah, it’s only a bay but whatever.)

But this was still too narrow, I realized – I should be thanking reality itself, all of it, the big om, the unified shebang.

So I did. “Thanks, reality!” and then added – “I appreciate it.” This struck me as somehow important, so I repeated it aloud, truly feeling deep appreciation for my life and times. The “it” I was appreciating was Everything – and the chance I’d been given to exist as me.

At that exact moment, waves started crashing into the rocky shoreline, loud and hard.

After a few moments these abated – in my entire time walking along the shore, before and afterward, this phenomenon was not repeated. I had to laugh out loud – it was just too much.

Teapots or not, I simply couldn’t let myself believe that the crashing waves were really the universe saying “you’re welcome,” and so the mystical moment crested, and broke, and slowly began to fade away … but never completely.

~ — ~


I spent about an hour more on the shore, sometimes roaming, sometimes sitting … and constantly collecting rocks, which I have always had a thing for. Quickly, the large coffee cup I’d been using for a specimen bag was filled to bursting, so I transformed the umbrella into a carryall by loading it up with rocks and driftwood, then closing the strap tight. Held over the shoulder like a hobo’s hankerchiefed belongings, it worked out great.


Seattle rocks, seaweed, driftwood, shells, rusty Underground iron, and a chunk of barnacled & eroded brick with mortar.

Seattle rocks, seaweed, driftwood, shells, rusty Underground iron, and a chunk of barnacled & eroded brick with mortar.

Some seagulls reminded me that my mom – who was currently undergoing radiation treatment for aggressive cancer – also loves big water. I called her from the shore and made plans to bring her to Lake Superior that summer.

(She didn’t remember to remind me that when I was little we’d had a dishtowel embroidered with a umbrella-wielding duckling – but later, when I did a google search for “rainy day duckie” and the first result was a replica of the towel from my childhood, I remembered it immediately – and yeah, I bought it.)

Soon enough, it was time to head back toward the conference – I wanted to meet up with my friend, grab some lunch, and get back to the hotel to drop off my umbrella full of rocks before the afternoon sessions began.



back toward the SMX conference

back toward the SMX conference


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12 Responses to “rubber ducky, you’re the One”

  1. Interesting – this was just the next one chronologically – I love the parallels between this story and “the Secrets of Synchronicity” … all were “chain synchronicities” and involved me noticing a notable event (“wise wise wise wise,” the spotlight sunbeam, the crashing waves) just as/after I’d came to some conclusion about reality that I wanted to try to hold onto (not letting negative abstractions override the present moment, or rigid rationalism override experience & intuition), and all felt very tied into the condition that many refer to as “being in the Flow.”



  2. To judging to on problem considered in a theme. For an author not so all badly in life. Creative approaches are incident to the happy people.



  3. Nikolai – I had a hard time understanding that comment until I read it in a thick Russian accent. Well, actually – even then I still wasn’t sure if it meant anything, or was just SEO spam for your .ru plastic window site …

    Having dug into your online presence I lean toward the latter … I’ll leave your comment, minus the hyperlink.



  4. beautiful.


    jessica nicole davis

  5. The duck with the umbrella resonated with your prior comment that people in Seattle rarely use umbrellas–they don’t need them, just like a duck really doesn’t need one.



  6. As always, your experiences are astonishing. The rubber ducky in yr photo is, in fact, a duplicate of a rubber ducky that was, for some unknown reason, on the edge of the tub in a place we stayed in Oregon.


    Trish MacGregor

  7. What a beautiful set of happenings to occur and to have such significance.



  8. I’m beginning to think of synchronicities as ‘tweets’ or winks or reminders from God/the Universe/Reality/Infinite Mind and find myself giving thanks a lot.



  9. I never believe in coincidence, how little it is I always think it as a destiny or fate; but these are heavy words.
    Your comment reminds me how my Dad can say my unbelieving on coincidence in a sweeter way:

    “Coincidence is a bonus from God”



  10. […] minor coincidence to be sure, but fresh on the heels of the recent Rubber ducky “chain synchronicity,” I was paying attention […]

  11. Oh this is too cool. You’re not going to believe this.
    I have these sorts of synchronicities all the time. I call them winks from the universe, and finding this site is one of them!

    Yesterday I began reading “Moby Duck” which is about the 1990 Yellow Rubber Duck Spill (and other plastic fauna: a red beaver, a green frog, and a blue turtle).
    Sadly none of the ducks in that spill had umbrellas! Over lunch I told my husband about the subject of that book (we have lots and I mean lots of shared soulmate synch’s together like you describe). That day, we talked about the Rubber Duck spill, Pacific gyres, and Mother Earth. No more than 1/2 an hour later I was in the grocery store, when what do I find on the corner of the corn crib just waiting for me, but a yelllow rubber duck!!! And this one was wearing swim goggles!!! As it was a grocery and possibly for sale or lost by a child I left it there but not until I showed my marvellous and giggling husband.

    I follow my intuition on these things, so just now I typed “Rubber duck Synchronicity” into google and lo and behold….Here I am and there you are!!! The wierd thing is, we used to live on the MN-WI border for 6 years!

    Recently I bought a synchronous fez that kept appearing in one of my dreams, and a luna moth I dreamt of but never saw came to me the following day (a real one) and real ones have followed important decisions in my adult life. In fact I just saw one 2 weeks ago in very unusual but meaningful circumstances.


    Sharon Woods

  12. You never know where rubber ducks will appear!

    Last month, I was carrying that book “Moby Duck” in a bag as my husband and I took a detour to see a small town that had some small reputation and it was cute as cute can be! Near the outskirts, we spotted a town fair, our first fair since visiting the MN State Fair! This one was tiny by comparison with fewer fried things on sticks and plates! 🙂

    The first exhibit? A rubber duck race! Must have been at least 100 yellow rubber moby ducks running down the chute, through the duck-sized rapids! 🙂


    Sharon Woods