A few years ago, after having lived in my current home for a while, I kept noticing a woman who lived a few houses up as she looked very familiar. Finally one day as she was heading back from my next-door neighbor’s house, I decided to stop her and see if we could figure out how I knew her. To my surprise, she told me that I looked very familiar as well. I then asked her where she’s from. She told me that she didn’t grow up around here. She stated she is from Arlington. NO WAY!!! I then asked her what high school she went to and she answered Martin High School. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? Finally, I asked her what year she graduated. Turns out, she graduated the year before I did. We both had a good laugh about this and briefly reminisced about the good ol’ days back in our younger years. After she walked home, I began to wonder what are the chances that two people from the same high school in Arlington would move all the way to Round Rock, Texas and end up on the same street only a few houses away from each other?!? Depending on who is asked, one person might say it was just an amazing coincidence while someone else may say it was fate that the two of us crossed paths at this point in our lives. These two concepts, fate and coincidence, are something that I have found more and more interesting whenever I find myself in these situations.
Coincidence is defined by dictionary.com as “a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.” This means that the planets didn’t align for something to happen but rather it was just a lucky accident. Think about how many times you’ve run into someone you know at the store. I always get a kick out of this, but it doesn’t mean there was some special purpose for us to have been at the same place at the same time. There have been at least two different times that my sister and I have given my dad the same card for either his birthday or Father’s Day. It does make a little sense though since we have similar senses of humor…well, that and the same dad. 😉 What makes it an even bigger coincidence is that I’m in Texas and she lives in Ohio. Sure it gives us a chuckle, but it’s a bit odd that she and I both saw the same card in two different stores and decided that of ALL the other cards out there to choose from, it is THAT one in particular we both chose to send. Maybe it all boils down to the fact that great minds think alike! I’m sure Audrey would agree!
Everything happens for a reason. If you believe in this statement, then maybe fate really is on your side. For those of you who don’t know, my husband got sick when he was 10 years old and eventually had to have open-heart surgery at the age of 17. Because he was ill most of his childhood, he was unable to play many of the sports he liked and instead took up playing the drums. We eventually met in college band, and the rest, as they say, is history. So I have to ask myself, had he not gotten sick, joined the band, and attended the college we went to would I have still met him? Was it fate that brought us together? Was it fate in the first place that brought my family to Texas? Last I checked it was my dad’s job that did that.
I often think of the phrase “tempting fate” when something comes back to bite me in the butt. Most of the time this little day-wrecker rears its ugly head when I’m running late. I’ll head out the door and think, “Well at least there’s never any traffic this time of day!” BIG MISTAKE! It never fails that it is only at those times that I either hit every red light or I-35 is doing its best impression of a parking lot!!! I guess there’s no way to know if the traffic would have been the same had I not been running late. Maybe it was just a coincidence.
If you’re not sure which way you’re leaning as far as beliefs go, here is something to ponder. Was it fate or coincidence that there is life on Earth? Depending on your spiritual beliefs, your answer will usually sway one way or the other. Case in point, for those with a more religious take on this subject, it would make sense that it is fate that life exists on Earth because it was created by God or whomever you believe to be the Creator. However, if you tend to swing towards science, you would probably say that with the infinite number of combinations of elements in the universe, it was only a matter of time before life came into being and evolved into what it is today.
Back in 2003, I was working for a good friend of ours who also happened to live next door to us at the time. One day while at the office he walked in with a man who I felt looked very familiar. I remember sitting there wracking my brain trying to figure out how I knew him. The two men walked into the conference room for a meeting and upon their exit from the room it instantly hit me how I knew him. As he walked by I asked him a rather odd question – “Do you by any chance have a Cocker Spaniel?” I’m sure the look on his face was one of complete confusion, however he answered, “Yes I do.” I KNEW IT! I then informed him that I used to live next door to him while living in our rent house in Austin back before we bought our current house. Since it had been a few years it took him a few seconds and then he realized I was right. We laughed a bit and I recall thinking what a coincidence it was that my former next-door neighbor and my current next-door neighbor knew each other!! What a small world!
Whether it is fate, coincidence, or some combination of the two that you tend to favor, it can definitely determine how you experience each situation you come upon. After all, if you believe that you have free will to choose your path in life then everything is coincidence. If you believe in fate, then nothing is coincidence. Maybe what is important in keeping us all on the straight-and-narrow is to follow some sort of combination of the two. Think about it…if you believe that your life is destined to follow a certain path then it doesn’t matter what decisions you make because apparently you are supposed to make those choices. It’s no coincidence that you happened to be in the right place at the right time if this is your logic as luck doesn’t exist. For me personally, I like to think that I’m in control of my decisions without some pre-set plan as to how my life will turn out. In the famous poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, he says “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” I’m looking forward to finding my own road whether there is a trail started for me or not. What remains to be seen is whether the destination will be the same..well, that and whether I’ll run into traffic along the way.