Mention Six degrees of separation and many of us will think Kevin Bacon and his claim that he has worked with everyone in Hollywood. The game, Six degrees of Kevin Bacon, is based on the hypothesis that anyone, anywhere, can find a connection with another person through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five links. Few people realise though, that this idea was first proposed back in in 1929 by Hungarian writer, Karinthy Frigyes. In his short story Láncszemek (Chains), one of the characters suggests conducting an experiment in the form of a game to prove that the notion is true. Revitalised by the Kevin Bacon Game, this notion of six degrees of separation has led to other interesting studies such as one in 2008 dealing with artists in residence in Budapest and the Balaton. Another spin-off is the ABC programme The Karinthy Connection.
I was asked recently how I knew someone and as I traced back the connection (which reads something like: Pat knew Paul who knew Peter who married Paula who worked with Patricia who live in the flat downstairs), I stopped to think of the many good friendships I have today that have their origins in random chance. I’m going to dinner tonight with P&B, good friends of mine here in Budapest. I met P because M suggested I might be able to help him out with a project. I met M because K suggested we should have a coffee (we’re both Irish). I met K because E wanted a second opinion on a project. I met E because I happened to sit beside B in a pub one day in Budapest. And I was in Budapest that particular time because of J.
When I think of the myriad tiny, seemingly insignificant things I’ve done, and how they’ve affected my life, it makes me wonder for instance, what, life would be like today had I not made that trip to Budapest. Where would I be now? What would I be doing? Who would I be with? One thing’s for certain, I wouldn’t be going to dinner this evening at P&B’s.
At the end of what’s been a rather hectic week work-wise, one with lots of challenges, opportunities, and appointments, I am grateful that, back in 2007, I took the time to say ‘hello’ to J. Who would have thought that it would lead where it’s led.
[Note: Curious to know the origins of the Grateful series? See Grateful 52]