It’s a human thing to look for patterns. Sometimes you find them unexpectedly, and sometimes they strike you quite forcibly.
My first child was born 16 days early, three days before my birthday. The second was born three days after her dad’s birthday. The third arrived on the first of a month, the same as her grandmother, and the fourth turned up on the same date that the firstborn was actually due, but 12 years later.
One of the characters in an episode of Silent Witness a while back, talking about the coincidence of numbers, referred to ‘unexplained moments of synchronicity’. Synchronous just means ‘occurring simultaneously’ and it applies to so many things in life, such as neighbours meeting in a foreign city unexpectedly.
According to my friend Wikipedia, apophenia is ‘the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data’. I don’t know that the birthing of four babies is random … but that’s for another day.
I’d like to go on a rant about nominative determinism – my name’s Butcher, I deal in meat; my name’s Paine, I’m a doctor (or work with glass) – but I won’t. I came across an interview with Dr Kirby Surprise (I won’t start on his name) who studies ‘the magical and apparently unexplained world of synchronicities, meaningful coincidences, and déjà vu’ as a clinical psychologist. He has written a book—Synchronicity, the Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind. A bit heavy for me but the review is interesting.
Dr Surprise wrote, ‘I had a bunch of synchronistic events during my years in college, 20 or 30 a day! I had to find out what they were, especially coming from a culture that knew nothing about them…Synchronistic events happen when people see a meaningful connection between external events and their own internal states’.
Well and good, but the numbers and dates associated with my daughters being born were hardly internal states to me! Then you have the odd thing like thinking about someone you haven’t heard from in ages, and the phone rings, and guess who it is?
I’m being facetious, as my mathematician brother might tell me, but really – what about this? My father-in-law’s beloved dog when he was a young man is in a picture taken by a future brother-in-law. They met for five minutes on a city street, took a photo of the handsome dog, then years later married sisters.
It’s a fascinating field, the world of patterns and weirdly coincidental happenings. It is an intriguing topic though at its worst it can lead to mental delusion, such as when a statement on TV echoes a current thought and it seems the TV is talking to me! That’s when we start to look for confirmation of this pattern occurring and sadly, often find that confirmation. But it’s just part of that ‘apparently unexplained world of synchronicities, meaningful coincidences, and déjà vu’.
I think everyone has stories to tell of odd coincidences, synchronous happenings and strange patterns in their lives. Am I right? Have you had the weirdest coincidence that still puzzles you years later?