The other day I decided to go for a swim around noon. I'd only got about half a mile when a van which was indicating to make a right turn was overtaken by a motorbike which the van driver didn't see. The bike and van collided and the biker was swept into the turn and trapped under the bike between the van and the verge.
I was no more than 50 yards away and saw it all. I stopped immediately and picked up my mobile to phone 999. As I did this a cyclist coming from the other direction also stopped and came over. He said that he would make the call and put his arm around me as I was shaking so much. I could see the biker's feet but nothing else and didn't have the courage to go to him. Seconds later three cars pulled up, one of which was driven by a young female doctor who immediately took over, got help to remove the bike and did what she could then came over to ask if I was OK. I asked if the biker was OK and she said he wasn't good but still had all his limbs. The ambulance and police arrived in no time and I waited so I could give my details.
It was incredible to watch the way everyone had a role and worked together; the police organised the traffic, interviewed the driver and took details, the ambulance crew and doctor looked after the biker, the cyclist and I gave brief statements. I was advised by the ambulance driver not to drive my car so my husband walked over and took me home. Later the sergeant rang me to see if I was OK and to thank me for staying to give details. He told me that the biker was not as bad as first thought, he had broken limbs and 'bits and bobs' but would be OK. I had confirmed that the cyclist had overtaken the van as he was attempting to turn right but couldn't remember if I'd seen his indicator. The sergeant told me that when they turned on the ignition the indicator was still on; he said the van driver was a nice lad. I was so relieved for him.
The whole experience left me with a sense that we are intimately connected. At that moment, the biker's life was completely dependent on anyone who could help. Without hesitation strangers came forward and did what they could. The whole universe seemed to close around that one situation and everyone knew what to do. Who knows what kind of people we all were, with what beliefs and experiences? In that instant it really didn't matter, we were reduced to the sum of our parts (mine being the most minor!). It reminds me of the cave rescue of the Thai boys, when the world seemed to pull together, and the irony of that situation; as one Guardian columnist said 'if only international relations could work that way', my thoughts entirely.
This all puts me in mind of quantum entanglement, the puzzling mystery of how tiny quantum particles, once entangled or joined together, remain forever in instantaneous communication with each other no matter how far apart they may be-even on different sides of the universe.
One of my favourite books is Fritjof Kapra’s ‘The Tao of Physics’, a wonderful analysis of the parallels between eastern mysticism and quantum physics. In true Kapra style I began to see us all as entangled particles; no matter what divides us, either time, space or ideas, we are all interwoven and inter-dependent. In these troubled and divided times I felt I had been given a glimpse of the working of the universe at its most simple and beautiful; quantum physics is about particles and their interactions and life is about people and our interactions, we are all entangled. Our best moments come when we forget our differences and work together with compassion for each other, to improve our lives.