Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Own Kind of Miracle

The "Flammarion Woodcut"

On rare days I’ve had trouble coming up with a subject for FLIGHTS OF PEGASUS, but now I’m having trouble deciding which of several ideas I want to pursue. To create continuity I’ve decided to give an account of the most improbable thing that has happened to me . . . other than just being here.

When I was living in Pompano Beach, Florida, I quickly became aware of a bright glow in the western sky at night. As soon as I learned that the light emanated from the Pompano Park Harness Track my own track was determined. I’d already manifested an interest in gambling, propelled not by the ambition to win large amounts of money, but rather by the belief I could discover a system that would make me world famous (and incidentally win large amounts of money).

It’s interesting that I sailed into life with an innate faith that there was a “key” to unlock the mysteries of everything if only I could find it. I never considered that the inner workings of the universe might be impenetrable. I assumed that if I gathered enough data and did enough research on any subject – whether horse racing, casino gambling, the stock market, psychic phenomena, the workings of the universe -- I would find the key and be able to explain and predict outcomes.

And so I became a regular at Pompano Park in the evenings, laden with a notebook and racing records, looking for patterns. For some reason I wasn’t as drawn to handicapping and the recent condition of horses (probably the only sources of a “system” that might actually win over time) as I was to the mystique of patterns, but I looked at everything for a possible answer. I spent more time poring over racing records and manipulating numbers (before the days of computers) than I did at the track. After hundreds of hours I had discovered one mysterious thing, but not the key to winning: Any system that seems foolproof when applied to all previous races will fail as soon as one actually uses it for betting. That was a more interesting discovery than anything else I learned about wagering systems, and I’m not the first person to mention it.

At any rate, weeks went by and I was no further ahead financially than I had been on the first day. Once I really thought I had found the answer when I began talking with a man who followed the harness races around the country in the company of his mother. He told me to pay attention only to the changing odds on the electric board up until the starting bell. Did a horse’s odds start high or low compared to the morning line? Was there a “drastic drop” at some point? And so forth. The idea was that the races were mostly fixed – probably true – and the betting of those in the know would give clues as to which horse was the planned winner. Well, that provided me with entertainment for many hours and many sheets of paper, with the usual so-so results after an initial appearance of success.

By the latter part of the season, when I went to the track I was burdened not only with a very heavy notebook but with very negative emotions. One night – a turning point in my life – I was sitting behind three women who obviously had never been to the races before. As I lost money on every race using my scientific research systems, they were winning frequently. What was their method?

I leaned forward and listened closely before each race.

“Here’s a horse named Lady Jane. I have an Aunt Jane and I’d die if that horse won and I didn’t bet on it.”

“Look here: The first two numbers of my social security number.”

“My dog was named ‘Flash’. Look at this!”

As I saw them win with such a “system” I began to hear that silent voice in my consciousness that I’ve learned always to heed: “Throw away the papers,” it said again and again. “Throw away the papers and bet what comes into your head.”

It wasn’t easy to do, but I climbed a few grandstand stairs and dropped my entire collection of paperwork, including the night’s racing programme, into a trash can. I turned, feeling unburdened, and suddenly the number “9” came into my head like a bubble popping on the surface of black water. I went to a window, bought a ticket on 9 to win, place, or show, and went back to my seat. Yes, to my amazement, 9 pulled ahead in the straightaway and finished first by a length.

I felt dizzy, but not so dizzy that I didn’t notice the number “11” popping to the surface of my consciousness. I bet on 11 and it won the next race. After losing for days, I went on to bet correctly on six consecutive races. At that point I was feeling very tired, drained, and I realized that I was beginning to have doubts, to grope for the next number instead of just having it presented to me, and I went home.

To me, nothing less than a miracle had happened. But was it a one-time coincidence? No, it wasn’t. For ten days I returned to the track every night it was open and won almost every race I bet on, at least 8 out of 10. If I’d had more money, and had the confidence to risk a lot of it, I would have improved my bank balance tremendously, but my “reasoning mind”, that analytical monkey cage, regarded what was happening as impossible and so I remained in the cautious experimental stage.

There were three things I particularly noticed:

1. There was a definite feeling that distinguished a “real” number, a real precognition, from a merely imagined number. It was the sensation of a mild electrical shock at the very instant the number popped into consciousness. Without that sensation, I was just fishing.

2. The first impression was always the genuine one, even though it might pass so quickly as to be almost imperceptible. Any further impression was just a guess.

3. The winning number of the next race came to me most often at the moment the number of the winner of the present race was first flashed onto the electric board amid cheers and groans – mostly groans except when the favorite won.

I’m going to continue this in another post, but I’ll conclude for now by telling you that during the same period I went to the Jai Alai fronton on a few afternoons and had the same success, using nothing more than each number that floated up into my mind. I won no less than 5 out of 6. At both Jai Alai and the race track I never lost a bet when I really felt the electric “pop” as a number came to me. The few losers were due either to my not being “given” a number but betting anyway, or to my mentally searching for a number.

To be continued.


  1. This definitely resonates with me: not in gambling but other spheres of life. I'll mention a few examples.

    (2) I have worked as a computer programmer and professional tester, so the ability to detect "bugs" has been important. I discovered I would tend to know when or where something was wrong, if I did not try too hard. I am also able to "wrestle" with a computer and win, by sheer imposition of my will on it, if it won't boot up. Not always, but I instantly know when it is beyond the power of my will.

    (3) When I lose something important I am usually too frantic to wait calmly for inspiration as to its current whereabouts. However, I always know instantly if it is gone forever or retrievable. I once had a favourite fountain pen, obtained from one of my children in the first place and with its lid a bit chewed. As a writer I am fetishistic about pens. I went to live in Jamaica without it, still grieving for the loss. Then I returned and got my old car back, often delving into all the recesses of the seats in case it was there somewhere. Then one day one of my children said "I think I may have found your pen, in the back of a drawer." It was a twin of the lost pen, but not the same one because its lid was less chewed. At least it has stopped my searches for the original one. (thinks: did they buy a new one for me and chew it a bit to resemble the old one?)

    (3) There was a third example but I have forgotten it now. But I have to confess that these days I run my life completely on these little whisperings and nudges. Correction: not completely. Every time I don't, I realise that I should have trusted the hunch.

  2. Yves, thanks for supplying those fascinating examples.

  3. the quiet mind draws down the moon.....or somesuch.

    certainly the frantic scratchings of the vast sea of humanity isn`t the way to do it.......

    "easy does it" as the AA people used to say.