Air Canada, Coehlo, and page 76​




A strange coincidence occurs on Air Canada flight 710, from Toronto to New York LGA, yesterday, Thursday, October 27, around 11:30 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m. I am coming home after a focus group project on Monday through Wednesday night in Toronto that is for a global brand and uses many projective exercises, emotional probes, archetypal imagery, new concepts, and tasting tests of new products. I am happy with the results, although the project has been challenging and involved some revision of concepts.... and on Thursday morning, am thinking about the analysis. While waiting for AC flight 710 to leave Pearson Airport at gate 161, and having gone through customs quickly, I have some time. I discover that the battery in my MacBook Pro seems to be very weak so I decide to buy a book at the local concession and read on the plane, rather than work.


I purchase the book The Winner Stands Alone, by Paulo Coelho, with its bright red cover and its promise of a mixture of philosphy and thriller. It seems well-written and a fast read. I take it on the plane when the flight is called and immediately start reading. I am seated in 17D.


A woman who looks somewhat like me--blonde, similar age, hair length, appearance, pleasant--takes the window seat, and puts her book--Paulo Coelho's book, The Winner Stands Alone--in the front pocket compartment to read. I notice it because the cover is red and it is the same book I am reading.


We express mild surprise that it is the same book. The passenger--name is DW--says that she really likes Coelho's work; she is a fan; she follows Coelho's blog which she feels is uplifting; she mentions and recommends The Alchemist and The Valkyries. I say that I have only read Coelho's Brida. DW doesn't know it. We talk in passing about my work in market research, my travels, and a few market research anecdotes; she describes her life a little and travels; she is checking out a new idea that may be situated in the Cotswolds near London, England. I used to live in the suburbs of Westport, CT, in a house that was styled as a Cotswold cottage, then moved to mid-town Manhattan last year to be more in the urban action and lifestyle. DW still lives in the English Cotswolds because it feels right and relaxed for her kids and her at this point in life.


The ride to La Guardia is uneventful although ultra-bumpy. Service is curtailed half way through. This allows DW and myself the opportunity to exchange a few more words about the Coehlo book as we both read our Winner Stands Alone.


At one point we notice that we seem to be reading Winner at about the same pace.

As the plane lands, I ask DW what page she is on. We discover we are both on page 76 as we put the books away for the landing.​

I do not see her again, although my parting words to her are to do some market research for her Cotswold idea before leaping into it.


The synchronicity about the Coehlo book and page 76 is direct and strong, yet I am unable to imagine what its meaning can be. On page 76, there is a pathologist's report and some technical details about how a murder is being traced. The story is taking place in Cannes at the film festival....a story about the rich and powerful, but I'm not far enough along to really know what it's all about. DW says that her father is a film maker-producer and she grew up in the presence of filmmaking and festivals. I mention that in my ethnographic work, I often illustrate findings with video clips, a small usage of film for research.


The author Coehlo writes at the beginning as an explanatory introduction, "One...recurrent theme in my books is the importance of paying a price for your dreams. But to what extent can our dreams be manipulated? We have lived in a culture that privileged fame, money, power--and most people were led to believe that these were the real values that they were to pursue. What we don't know is that, behind the scenes, the real manipulators remain anonymous...the most effective power is the one that nobody can notice..."


Is the coincidence the number 76?


Or, something else that eludes me completely at this moment?


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