01/13/2013 08:31 pm ET Updated Mar 15, 2013

Do Our Emotions Affect Our Stuff?

I was out riding my bike today when it occurred to me that I have been singularly lucky not to experience any flat tires lately. In fact, I've had this bicycle for a year, and haven't done a thing to it, not even adjust seat, brakes, or cables. This is in stark contrast to the contraption that preceded it, quite a nice bike too, actually, which seemed to pop a tube every other ride despite the fact that I maintained it well, was careful to use good quality replacements, and to check the rims and spokes for wear spots or imperfections.

No sooner had my good fortune on the ride occurred to me when I heard a muffled pff and felt the handlebars wiggle and the ride turn rough. I hopped off the bike and set about replacing the tube on the rear tire, which was flat as an asphalt runway. I got the job done, got back on the bike, and rode about another mile before I heard another, slightly louder pff while in a hard, fast corner. I nearly lost control of the bike as the front tube also let go. I didn't have a second spare with me, so I had to call a friend for a ride home.

While I was waiting for him, I had time to reflect on the relationship, or lack thereof, between what we think and what we manifest. I remembered that years ago I had a Fiat convertible, which other than finicky brakes, never gave me a lick of trouble. In fact, I loved the car very much, often admiring its Pininfarina lines and its low profile and the way I could open the top on impulse, with one hand, at the first sign of spring sun. After driving it for a number of years, I was smitten by another sports car, this one from Japan, and found myself quite dissatisfied with the little Italian job. Suddenly, apparently inexplicably, and despite low mileage and no change in driving habits, maintenance, or any other quantifiable variable, the car began to fall apart.

Within a matter of weeks of losing my favor, it cost me more than it was worth to repair, and soon afterward I sold it. As it was disintegrating, I came to wonder whether or not it somehow knew I didn't care about it anymore, and to wonder too about the logical corollary that somehow my positive feelings contributed to its reliability and integrity. I know the word logic might be a stretch in this connection, but maybe there is more to this question than meets the eye. Maybe, in fact, the very act of considering the issue opens a window into a whole new, quantum world, one in which ideas and emotions have power outside of the electrical impulses and chemicals in our brain.

A few months ago on the National Public Radio show Car Talk, I heard a caller voice the very same concern about changing the name of a car he had bought, wondering if to do so might bring about some bad juju. I scoffed at the call at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that although a name itself might not contain the power of change, any intention or energy the driver aims at the car just might.

Experience and instinct (if not reason) tell me that there is in fact a relationship between our attitudes and the world around us. Books continue to be written about the power of our intention to manifest results, particularly in our relationships with others. Nobody doubts that the exquisite, invisible, emotional antennae borne by the people around us allows them to react and respond to the "vibe" we put off. No pet owner doubts that his dog, cat, bird, or snake can respond to her moods. Might this interactive reality also be true of our "relationship" with inanimate objects?

Not in a Newtonian universe. But perhaps in one where energy rather than matter is the order of the day, the answer is different. If everything is vibration and probability, then perhaps our thoughts and feelings might affect the delicate and complex function of that collection of parts, electricity, and combustion we call a car, not to mention our personal and office electronic devices. Perhaps, in fact, our thoughts and feelings might affect everything from toasters to tactical nuclear weapons, and all in between. Perhaps waking up our ability to sense and correlate our intention with results in this other, inanimate world, might lead to greater understanding of how things really work.