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Coincidence?

One of my favourite podcasts is The Moth where people share real life stories based on a theme.  An episode I listened to recently focused on coincidence.

According to Oxford Dictionary (online edition) the definition of coincidence is:  a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.

This particular podcast includes stories replayed from an earlier date, all centered around incidents of eerie similarity.  Several times throughout the podcast, the host opined that coincidence seems to occur mostly during adolescence.  Wait… what?

I am fairly sure that I have experienced a fair number of coincidences, even up to recently, and I am well past teenage years.  Could what she is saying imply that I am emotionally or psychologically immature?

Psychology Today, in the article The Power of Coincidence, writes:  “To the mystically inclined…coincidence is a synchronicity, the purposeful occurrence of two seemingly unrelated events.”

This resonates with me.  As a long time student of Therapeutic Touch, I remember one of the co-founders, Delores Krieger stating that synchronicity is the Universe’s way of letting us know we are on the right track. I admit, I’ve always found that idea comforting.

When we moved up to the RV park we are currently parked in for the summer, we met a recent widow whose husband had died the year prior – at the time my husband was recovering from triple bypass surgery.  In further conversation, we found out that both of our husbands had the same kind of cancer:  Stage III prostrate, the aggressive strain.  They both went through the same treatment, but whereas my husband remains cancer free, her husband was not so fortunate.  Then we compared ages and discovered that not only were we the same age, both husbands were born in January and we wives in July.

th-3The coincidence was enough to jar me into recognizing how lucky we are, Ric and I.  This woman, who hails from a different place, and whom we may have never met under different circumstances, embodies all the fears I have encountered over the years since Ric’s diagnosis.  She is a living reminder that life is resilient, and that even though loss and sorrow are certainties, so are tomorrows.  In this instance, I might argue that synchronicity is at play.

Besides, the similarities in our stories have opened the door to a new friendship, so that in itself is something.

In his article, “Chasing Coincidences”,  statistics guru, Amir D Aczel talks about probabilities and sample spaces, trying to mathematically solve the riddle of coincidence.  In the end he too, realizes that “startling coincidences in everyday life may well remain a mystery.”

I like the concept of “mystery”.  To me it is the acknowledgment that life is not entirely ‘knowable’: that there is more possibility that exists outside the realm of human understanding.  It is reassuring, somehow.

I don’t think that sounds adolescent, do you?

I’d love it if you’d weigh in on your perspective.  Tell me about your coincidences, and let me know what you think.

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Categories: nonfiction opinion psychology

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V.J. Knutson

Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.

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