If you watch enough cop shows on television, you will be convinced there is no such thing as a coincidence. This is probably because in cop shows, they are looking for clues. Also, there’s the matter of the script in which everyone always says “there’s no such thing as a coincidence.”
Except there is. It may be a freakish coincidence. It may be downright weird and closer to home than you want, but it’s not a clue. Why isn’t it a clue? Because you aren’t trying to track down the bad guy. You aren’t looking for a serial killer (at least I hope not and if you are, I hope you are well armed and not trying to do it on Facebook). You are just tralala-ing your life away, so what kind of a clue would make a meaningful difference?
When I was living in Israel, someone posted that he was giving away his entire record collection. He had “gone religious” and decided he didn’t need such frivolity. I called him up and he came over with crates of vinyl records. This was before CDs took over and a few years later, records were stuff you didn’t need anymore.
I’m highly amused that they are back in fashion. Mom was right: hang on to anything long enough and it will be back in style. She meant clothing, but apparently it’s true for many things. I’m still awaiting eight-track tapes.
Sorry for the digression.
I look at the guy and he looked at me. We stared at each other for a really long time and finally, I said “Where did you go to high school?”
“Jamaica High School,” he said.
Turns out we were in the same show in our junior year. I don’t remember anything about him except that there was something in his eyes that was familiar. Freaky? Weird? Yup. A clue? A clue to exactly what? It wasn’t like we dated or anything. At best, we barely knew one another.
About 10 years later, Garry and I were in Dublin. Looking for the Stag’s Head Pub, which is one of the older pubs in Dublin. The only way you can find it is to see the old stag’s head mosaic in the sidewalk because it’s down an unmarked alley.
So Garry and I — eternally lost, but this time, lost in Dublin — were staring at the sidewalk. A total stranger walked up and Garry accosted him.
“Excuse me,” said Garry, “But do you happen to know where we could find the Stag’s Head?”
“You’re Garry Armstrong,” said the nice man who it turns out was a professor at Harvard taking a year off to teach in Dublin. Cabal? No, but he knew how to find the pub.
A few years later, Garry and I are visiting my cousins in Baltimore and we’ve gone out for dinner. Crabs legs. They do a great job with crabs in Maryland. The waiter came over, dumps a heap of crab legs on the table and says “Hey, you’re Garry Armstrong.”
We went to Disney World and people kept asking for his autograph. There was Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck … and Garry. Ah, the memories. Okay Garry was a little bit famous. Still … what are the odds?
Garry bumped into a viewer while in a castle in the highlands of Scotland. I encountered relatives while choosing veggies at the shuk in Jerusalem. A guy I knew well in Jerusalem (he was my hairdresser) showed up at my doctor’s office in Newton, Massachusetts.
Stuff happens all the time. You meet someone who lives in the house you grew up in, or was the best friend of your best friend in fifth grade. It goes around and comes around. If you are firm believer in fate, is there some spiritual element in this?
For me, the truly oddest thing is when I meet someone who knows me. Says we were on the swimming team together (where I was a bench sitter — I never actually swam). Were in the same classes. Hung out. And I don’t recognize her or him at all. Nothing. Blank. Is it me or them? Which one of us is clueless?
If it is “something,” I’m pretty sure it’s not a cabal, clue, or collusion. It’s coincidence with memories. Synchronicity, if you like. The rhyming of our personal histories.
We know thousands of people, yet we bump into the same ones. Repeatedly.
So, are we destined to meet and then meet again people we knew in our world or maybe in another world? Even when they weren’t important and we can barely remember how we knew them or a single event or conversation which binds us together?
I’m sure someone more spiritual than I can make something more of this. Let me know when you know.