E Squared Experiment #2 part 1- Purple Cars

Oct 23

Missed my blog about experiment #1? Find it here.
This second experiment is related to the Reticular Activation System (RAS), which is a fancy description for the part of your physiology that ensures that you find what you’re looking for.
You know the scenario: you buy a new motor in what you think is a unique shade of burnished orange, then every other car you see is that very colour. We experience large and small examples of this phenomenon on a daily basis but barely notice it. So this experiment increases our awareness of the innate power we have to bring what we want in our lives simply by giving our attention to it. The possibility of sheer coincidence is reduced by splitting the 48 hour period of the exercise into two cycles of 24 hours with a different focus each day.

So, day one and I opt to see purple cars (on the basis that I haven’t seen many cars that colour over a considerable lifetime and, with apologies to purple car owners everywhere, couldn’t imagine anyone actively going out and choosing to pay good money for one). Just to make the challenge a little more difficult, I chose to spend the better part of the day walking in largely rural areas and parks where, oddly enough, you don’t tend to see many cars at all, let alone purple ones. Consequently I didn’t start the day with much expectation but there were hints I might be wrong.
Getting dressed, I opened the black knicker draw where I keep, you’ve got it, black knickers. Only black ones. Ever. But today, lying across the top smirking ‘look at me’ was a pair of purple pants. I didn’t even know I owned a pair (and I’d like to invite you at this point to forget that you know this much personal information about me). Just coincidence I thought, then my eye was caught by a fabric book-rest I use every day and never actually see: purple. And what’s that on the bookshelf? The Feminine Fix-It Handbook – at least thirty years old, still unread and still ……purple! OK. Time to admit that my RAS is functioning for at least half of today’s intention: I’m finding a whole lot of purple in my life I never consciously knew was there. On it went: the first pair of socks I laid my hands on had a mauve stripe; I opened my T-shirt drawer and was confronted by a lilac and white striped top I’d forgotten I owned. Walking companion, Dawn, arrived in a purple jacket I’d never seen before. Good, but only half good enough.

Off we set, me jabbering on about purple cars and on such high alert I was seeing purple where midnight blue was a more accurate description had the light not caught the bodywork just so. But I was firm with myself and didn’t count any of the nearly but not quite purples that passed us on the way to the Denes, knowing that with each rejection I was reducing the odds of proving today’s hypothesis or, wearing my motivational cheerleader’s hat, one more car closer to the realisation of my outcome. Take your pick.
Half an hour later, leaving the Denes and heading for the Railway Museum, I saw my first definitely, unarguably, unequivocally purple car parked directly in my line of vision.

Great! But only my first and, given that the aim of the experiment is to count how many purple cars I see, I figure that one lonely example really isn’t good enough. However, since I’m now heading into Rockwell Nature Reserve, I’m really not sure how I’m going to come across any more … but I’m keeping an open mind. Halfway through the reserve we decide to take a quick detour through a cut to the house of a friend we know will be happy to facilitate a comfort break. It’s a cut I’ve used many times before but never before have I noticed the rich metallic gleam of a deep purple car peeping out from behind the trees on the drive of the house opposite!

By the end of the day I had seen six purple cars including one glimpsed through the bushes on the footpath behind the old football stadium – one of only five cars parked there.

Not the actual car – thanks Google Images!

And that, I think, is definitely good enough for today – though I think tomorrow’s challenge is going to be MUCH harder.


  1. Hey thanks, Heather!!

    I love this story!!

  2. Joey Hunt /

    Thank You! I “found” your blog & this article because of Pam Grout


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