My wife and I have been discussing the cause and effects of coincidence recently. Specifically those relating to the city where we have chosen to finally settle down this summer after roaming from place to place for the greater part of a decade . The thing about coincidence is that once you point it out, you’re more apt to see it again.
Following one of our discussions on coincidence during a lunch hour cellphone conversation I researched coincidence and Synchronicity. Which is to say I plugged the words into google and wikipedia. I brushed up on my Jungian theory and came across a lot of Prometheus references which is a book that I came across through a friend’s own coincidence nearly five years ago. He found a book called Quantum Psychology in the ships library. It discussed coincidence and how our brain programs our world and reality. As he finished the book he found Prometheus Rising, the prequel to Quantum Psychology lying unclaimed in the middle of berthing.
I don’t believe that coincidences are particularly meaningful or evidence of some higher structure or supreme architect though they are particularly compelling and I would welcome a philosophical discussion on them. I also don’t feel that I am more prone to coincidence and that perhaps I have an over observant and over analytical mind capable of making connections where none are laid and an uncanny to justify and most anything. Aside from the years of cause and effect leading up to our decision to set anchor and settle down, here are some of the recent seemingly meaningless coincidences.
Friday while waiting for the work van to come back so that I could pick up a pallet of forms from Olympia, I browsed my feeds. I read a…is it a coincidence that I just pulled up my reader in order to find the exact link and found that the only two updated unread feeds are from the very same blog I was about to reference? Anyway, on Friday I ended up reading an 8 page piece on elevators in the New Yorker that wasn’t as particularly interesting as it was informative. I should say here that I never read the New Yorker. I don’t know if I ever have. In fact the only thing I know about the magazine was the Seinfeld episode involving a not so funny cartoon. On the way home, driving through a park and ride on the way to my carpool driver’s place I happened to look out the window and caught a glimpse of an Elevator Mechanic Union sticker on the window of a parked truck. Being intrigued by unions, I was surprised that I had never seen that sticker before. It immediately dawned on me how odd it was that I should come across it on the very day I learned nearly everything I could ever care to know about elevators.
I mentioned a trip to Olympia. I have a knack for printing out directions to places that I’ve never been only to leave them behind and find it without incident. This particular trip was no exception. I had only driven through Olympia once, three years ago on the way back from the national park. We stopped so I could run down the capital steps for no better reason than to hum the Rocky theme song as I did so. What can I say I was only twenty-four, though I doubt that is a viable excuse and I imagine I’d do it all over again. Olympia is a lot farther than I thought, far enough for KEXP to start fading. Once it did I started to scan the radio. I stopped at a song that I thought was alt country. It turned out to be a Dolly Parton cover done by Mindy Smith.
Later that evening while in the garage I came across a book I’ve been thinking about for a while; Rick Beyer’s “The Greatest War Stories Never Told”. There are actually quite a lot of stories about coincidence. That night I read a story about the origins of Yankee Doodle. It must have been in my head because the next morning at lunch I was whistling it and my son said that he knew that song but didn’t know why. I pulled up You Tube hoping to find a quick Yankee Doodle sound bite to play for him. I came across Charlie Zahm dressed up in colonial garb and sporting a tri-cornered hat. One video led to another, which they so often do on You Tube and soon I was watching him singing a classic Civil War song that sounded nearly identical to the Dolly Parton song that I heard yesterday. I had actually looked up the song when I got home to show my wife, thinking it was Dolly Parton singing it and making fun of myself for not knowing something as seemingly obvious as such.
Before I got into the van I grabbed a Sprite and a bag of cool ranch Doritos. I need to say here that I never eat either of those, and haven’t in almost two years but since they were just sitting there and it was going to be a long drive I opted to grab them. Late last night as we sat down to watch whatever it was we did on our uncomfortable couch my wife said to me casually, “You know what I really want? A sprite.” Since she never drinks Sprite either I laughed and told her that I had drank one today. A while later she said almost to herself, “and a bag of cool ranch Doritos.” “Shut up!” I blurted as I went into the details of my road trip snack. Our conversation on coincidence started again and the evening wore on.