Three is a magic number. And today we find ourselves surrounded with symbolic trios and trifecta, errors in triplicate. Three pelicans flying against the mountains, three salamander trails skittering through the car park dust, three bags heavy in my hands as a I count slowly to three, absorbing this news for the third time.
“Three’s a crowd!” we shoo off Arthur as he wanders over to see what’s up.
Three is also company though. The Chinese consider three lucky; representations of the trinity are woven deeply into many religions. Pythagoras, tangled up in triangles, called three the number of harmony, wisdom and understanding. Three graces there are, three witches too, three bears, three blind mice, three wise monkeys, three wise men.
Today we have been three times denied. Three times foolish. We are reminded that bad things also come in threes. Menna has locked the keys in the car for the third time. Just as we did three days ago in Quito, or 3×3 days ago in Brasil. Three four, knock on the door… It’s a triple, a treble, a triad of trying tribulations.
‘Three strikes and you’re out,’ I would say to my wife, except of course the middle strike was mine.
Three divisions of temporal awareness colour the human conscious: the past (we locked the keys in the car three days ago); the present (the keys are locked in the car now); the future (when will we next lock the keys in the car?). The triumvirate, the tripartite, the trident upon whose tines we have been traversed.
Three physical dimensions delineate our world, anchor our visual field, define the spatial attributes of our car as it sits obdurate and cuboid in the patch of wasteland behind the hostel.
The universe itself has no more than three fundamental qualities – time, space, matter – governed by three laws of thermodynamics. Why would we expect exemption from the tyranny of triplets?
Three mistakes, three vehicles, three sets of keys, three forced entries. Three calls to Europcar unanswered. Three minutes of fumbling with a wire through the top of the window. A trice! Three new scratches across our roof.
The third time’s a charm. We are on the road by three for the three hour drive to our next town, (the third one we have visited in three days). It could have been a lot worse. We were third time lucky.
Omne trium perfectum! Everything that comes in threes is perfectLatin proverb