A couple of months ago a friend told me about an extraordinary experiment that he and his family had tried. He’s a rational chap who runs a successful arts organisation and I was intrigued. When I got home I decided to give it a go. This is what happened.
I took an apple, a small rosy Cox, and cut it in half. I put each half into an identical jam jar and closed the lids. I had already removed the labels and now with a marker pen I wrote on one jar LOVE and on the other HATE. I put them on a shelf in the kitchen, at about head height, and a couple of feet apart. Then, following instructions, whenever I passed I tried to direct loving thoughts at one jar and hateful thoughts at the other.
It feels a little odd to be telling half an apple that you love it, that you think it’s plump and beautiful, that the whiteness of its naked flesh and the polished rosiness of its skin delight you, that if it wasn’t sealed in a jar you’d like to cradle it to your bosom and whisper sweet nothings to it. Odd, but not that difficult.
Hate is a different matter. I found it practically impossible to summon any real vitriol. I swore at the Hate half a bit, told it that it was disgusting and rotten, but without much conviction because it was neither. It was just the other half of a rosy little apple in a jar.
After a couple of weeks I gave up. The two halves sat there on the kitchen shelf and when I remembered to I smiled at one and scowled at the other, while looking to see if there were any signs of decay. But since the jars were airtight there was only the very faintest discolouration and it seemed to be fairly uniform across both halves.
About six weeks went by and still there seemed to be no obvious deterioration in either jar. I began to wonder whether perhaps the jars shouldn’t have been airtight, or whether the experiment simply wasn’t working. I left them for a few more days and finally, a week ago, I took the lids off for the first time.
I started with Hate and immediately noticed the smell. It was sour and vinegary, sharp enough to sting my nostrils. Then I opened Love. It was as fresh and sweet as if I had just sliced it. There was no mistaking it, these two scents were at opposite ends of the olfactory spectrum. The halves still looked the same, however, with just a faint dulling of the flesh around the core.
I left them in the jars overnight with the lids half on. Next morning I looked again. Love was pretty much unchanged and still smelling prettily. Hate still smelt sour but now it had begun to turn brown.
Today, a week later, the two jars are on my desk and this is what I see. Love’s skin is still a healthy apple red and its flesh is no more discoloured than you might expect of half an apple left out overnight. Hate’s skin has turned a uniformly dull brown – there’s no red to be seen, the exposed flesh is deeply discoloured and two dark rotten patches have now appeared. These are two halves of the same apple that have been treated in exactly the same way over the last seven weeks, yet one is clearly in a much more advanced state of decay than the other.
Can our projected thoughts really produce a physical change in something? If so can they have the same effect on someone? And given my inability to generate much hate, could even the writing of the words on the jars be enough?
The man who devised the experiment certainly believes so. Japanese scientist Dr Masaru Emoto claims to have demonstrated that words, thoughts and feelings can change the stucture of water crystals. Nikki Owen, who describes herself as a corporate charisma expert, takes it a step further. She maintains that since apples are mainly water (as are we) it will work with an apple.
Here on my desk is pretty good proof that it does. I reckon I’m going to try and be a bit more careful about how I think of people from now on.
PS This post seems to be catching people’s imaginations. Whatever the experiment does or doesn’t prove, I draw one unexpected thing from it. It tells me that I can summon warm feelings relatively easily, but that manufacturing animosity towards something undeserving is a lot harder, and I take comfort from that. I do have pictures, but as a writer I prefer to make the words do the work. There’s plenty about this experiment on the internet, including pictures. And if you do want to try it, you might want to sterilise the jars first as Carolyn suggests (comments, below). I didn’t.
PPS A picture – my friend Richard Pelletier in Seattle has just sent through this beautiful photo which he’s taken in response.