The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

Friday, July 13, 2018

Just how meaningful is coincidence, beyond the statistics? | Aeon Essays

What so much of the question around meaningful coincidence comes down to is how you choose to fill the vacuum of life’s mysteries. Is the realm of the unknown a place of spirituality and existential significance for you, or does the world remain entirely material?


This reminds me of the time, almost thirty years ago, when I was interviewing (preliminarily) for a professor job at a senior faculty member's house in Wyoming. It was bitterly cold, and I decided I could not, in good conscience, leave my African lizard in my truck while I talked inside. With nothing else to do, I slipped the 12 inch Savannah Monitor into my pants pocket and went inside. Like most interviews, it went well, as I understood my role was to ask questions and be fascinated by the answers. The interviewer was a charming fellow, and allowed as how he had spent a year visiting at the University of Virginia. Why had he not stayed there?, I wondered out loud. It was because Virginia was a hotbed of, he said, and I kid you not, reptiles. They had snakes, and the professor who interviewed me had, he professed, an absolute horror of reptiles. It was all I could do not to whip out my sleepy but still ferocious looking lizard, thrust it in his face and say, "You mean like this one?!" But I didn't. Herman, for that was the lizard's name, survived the ordeal and went on to live for a captive lizard a long and otherwise uneventful life. But I have often wondered at the synchronicity of this bizarre encounter. Things like this often happen to me. I think it may be because so many people live utterly conventional lives that the universe is looking for any opportunity to get the weirdness out of its system.

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I walked into an interview. Five men were sitting on the other side of a table. The one in the centre was rising: I strode across to him to shake hands. Turned out he didn't have a right hand.

Posted by: dearieme | Jul 14, 2018 6:50:50 AM

Sometimes Fate hands one an opportunity to be really, really clever. I have learned that it's wise to resist the temptation. Great story tho.

Posted by: Jonathan | Jul 16, 2018 8:40:55 AM