To expound their vain and visionary gleams.
I've known some odd ones which seemed really planned
Prophetically, or that which one deems
A "strange coincidence," to use a phrase
By which such things are settled now-a-days.
I have a hypersensitivity to coincidence. Maybe I have more coincidences than others, or I’m more aware of them. I know that I’m more dazzled by them than most. Friends know I’m given to loudly exclaiming “WHAT ARE THE ODDS?” in a hyper sort of way whenever one of these coincidences pops up.
Here are some recent ones:
•I went to the birthday party for my BFF’s brother-in-law, whom I barely know. That connection is pretty far removed. Turns out one of his oldest friends, Brian, is the brother of my cousin’s husband. AND, Brian and I were best man & maid-of-honor at that cousin's wedding many years ago. We hadn’t seen each other since we were standing on the back of the fire truck for pictures after the ceremony.
•I was sitting on a Long Island Railroad train waiting for it to pull out of Penn Station. It wasn’t my usual line because I was going to visit someone in the hospital on the North Shore. I looked out the window and saw the name of an ex who I have a lot of history with-—Doug--in neon lights. There were so many reflections between train windows, I couldn’t even tell what I was looking at, where that name was.
But what the hell was his name doing right outside my window in lights? As the train pulled away, I saw that the neon was on a train across the track, and as the train moved down the track it was revealed that it said “Douglaston,” a town on the Port Washington line.
But what were the odds? That I would sit in that seat, that the two trains would be so perfectly aligned, that only the letters for Doug could be seen. If the trains hadn’t been so precisely in place, and I had seen the “l” and the “a,” the whole frisson of seeing his name would not have happened.
•My choir director, on the Upper West Side, last week asked if anyone wanted to sing the Faure Requiem. He had been hired to play organ for another church that was doing it. He plays lots of gigs outside of our church, but for some reason he asked if anyone wanted to come along and sing.
Turns out that this gig is on Long Island, IN MY HOMETOWN PARISH CHURCH in Massapequa. The church I made my first communion in, where we had my father’s funeral mass.
What are the odds? And that the Faure is one of my very favorite pieces. So I sang the concert as a guest. It also happened that my BFF, who also grew up in Massapequa, was already coming for a visit that weekend. And that she happened to fly into La Guardia rather than Newark (like she usually does) on Friday night. So she drove out to Massapequa, picked my mom up, and went to the concert too. Strange, unexpected reunion.
The World Science Festival Is on the Case
Then on the heels of all this, the World Science Festival, which is in its fourth year, has a session called:
The Illusion of Certainty: Risk, Probability, and Chance
Stuff happens. Your best friend from Boston met your other best friend from San Francisco. Coincidentally. What are the odds? Risk, probability, chance, coincidence—-they play a significant role in the way we make decisions about health, education, relationships, and money. But where does this data come from and what does it really mean? How does the brain find patterns and where can these patterns take us? When should we ditch the data and go with our gut? Join us in a captivating discussion that will demystify the chancy side of life.
Wow. So the scientists are thinking about it too. Needless to say I’m going.