Irony is Destiny

or How to be a Self-Entertaining Entity, S.E.E.

By Sigmund Shonholtz 

Be the cause in your coincidence. There are billions of people, animals, and things on this planet, and between them, there are trillions of possible intersections.  Combine them with trillions of moments each day, and you have a sauce that will result in thousands of unusual events daily.  Inevitably, some of these intersections will be extraordinary and beyond our comprehension.  We call these events “coincidences”.

A coincidence happens when an event and a moment collide in an unusual manner or order.  The coincidence is made up of three parts: the moment (time) it happens, the space (place) it happens in, and the event (action) itself.  If any of the three parts is changed by even seconds, the coincidence may never take place and if it does, we may not notice it.

Coincidences figure so prominently in our world that most fiction books and movies feature a coincidence (or more) in them to help develop the story. In fact, one of the most successful shows ever on television, Seinfeld, is all about coincidence.  The lead writer on the show is a man named Larry David.  One day, I was watching Seinfeld and remarked to my girlfriend that the entire theme of the show was about coincidence.  I joked with her that if I ever met Larry David, I would share my “hobby” with him.   We laughed, and she said, “When do you think it will happen?”  I thought about it and only semi jokingly said, “About a week”.  About three days later, I was sitting in my orthodontist’s chair and looked in the mirror and realized that Larry David was standing behind me; I just smiled. I asked Alan, the dentist, if he would introduce me to Larry, “Because I studied coincidence and wanted to talk to him”.  When I got up to leave, Alan asked me over and introduced us.  “Nice to meet you,” we both said. Then I told Larry about my hobby.  He said, “I have never heard about anyone having a hobby of coincidence“. He enthusiastically said, “I could not do my show without coincidence.” We talked for awhile about the subject. Larry clearly understood the significance of the topic in people’s lives and exploited it thoroughly.

For most of us, the statement “what a coincidence” is simply a phrase like every other cliché. I started thinking about this subject when I was in high school, after I had a very unusual experience.

I was driving home from school and noticed a sign for a real estate agency called Red Carpet Realtors. I decided that the metaphor was not very imaginative and wondered about what might go well with the idea of a red carpet. A few minutes later, I was stopped at a signal waiting to turn left. I noticed a little piece of paper fluttering in the wind. It seemed like it was begging to come in through my window. A moment later, a car drove by, and the paper was  

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swept upwards. It floated down and again tried to enter my open window. I wondered, what could be so important? Now I was transfixed on it. Another car drove by, and the little piece of paper was once more swept away. This time, though, it fluttered like a whirling dervish, came through my window, and settled on my lap. It was blue, I turned the paper over, and to my amazement, it said, “Red Carpet Auto Parks”. My first thought was that it was a perfect use of the idea of a red carpet. Then I got goose bumps, and I looked up in the sky and wondered if there was some greater meaning in the event. However, we all know that there are few things more subjective than the “meaning of things”.

Many years ago, I learned of Carl Jung’s fascination with dreams, his interest in       coincidence, and his coining of the word, “synchronicity”. Jung even gave a lecture on the idea of “meaningful events,” in which he suggested a “oneness” in things. The paper was published in 1952. He titled it, “Synchronicity, An Acausal Connecting Principle”. He proposed that without cause, there could be an effect. But how? Needless to say, in 1972, there was no Internet, and a person needed to spend some time in the library to analyze such things. However, I will attempt to “clarify his sauce” at the end of this treatise.

Strange events continued to happen in my life, which I could not understand, and soon, I began to keep track of them.

One of my more unusual coincidences happened in the 1979. I was running out the door, late for an auction at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. As I ran out the door, I picked up the Los Angeles Times and glanced at the front page. The Dalai Lama was visiting Los Angeles. I wondered what it would be like to meet the Dalai Lama. Then I jumped into my car and sped away.

I arrived late for the auction and ran up the stairs four steps at a time. When I reached the top, I was nearly airborne and realized that there were three imposing looking men in my way, all wearing robes. They were bowling pins, and I was about to knock them down. I thought, what is going on? Why are they wearing white gowns? Oh…it is the Dalai Lama, I realized, and those are his bodyguards. The Dalai Lama has a very concerned look on his face. He must think I am an assassin sent by the Chinese to do him in, I thought. The two bodyguards had their hands on their swords and were just about to pull them out of their sheaths. (It is amazing what we can process in an instant!) I realized that I was about to be beheaded by the Dalia Lama’s guards. I grabbed the railing as hard as I could and went tumbling down to an abrupt stop at the midway landing. The two guards and the Dalai Lama ran down to see if I was OK. They picked me up and straightened me out. The Dalai Lama actually had me in an embrace. I mumbled, “Sorry, Mr. Lama, I am late for an auction.” Then we all broke out into laughter. I said, “Gotta go, I am late for an auction”. I quietly walked into the auction room, only to discover that the auction had taken place the previous day. The Faberge Egg I wanted to bid on was already sold.   

It took a moment for me to process that I had just met the Dalai Lama, 30 minutes after I’d asked the question, “What would it be like to meet the Dalai Lama?” I finally realized that a pattern was starting to develop. It was something like this; question, wondering or an inquiry,

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then the answer within a few days. Or it was discovery or having just learned something then an opportunity for application of the new knowledge. This has been the pattern for over 40 years.

It has taken me those 40 years to organize and enumerate the categories of coincidences and put them into a framework that makes sense (at least to me). There is a tendency to group all coincidences together. Over the last 10 years, I started to break the idea of coincidence down into some basic groups. In the process, I realized that, for some of us, what we know, we know in retrospect. Our accumulated knowledge is something we assemble over time, and we frequently do not realize what we understand until we really put it down on paper.

I am not an expert in metaphysics, physics, mathematics, or psychology, nor statistics, but here is my insight, or my perspective on the subject of coincidence. This is based solely on my experience; there is no science in it. Nearly all coincidences fall into one of five arenas. They are either about People, Places, Things, Events or Numbers.

When discussing the subject with people, two common statements are made. One group of people say, “There are no coincidences,” meaning everything is predestined, and we are more involved in our own coincidences then we realize. The other group says, “They are all just random events.” After studying the subject for so long, I believe both statements are true. They are two sides of a coin. Some coincidences appear to be “initiated,” while others appear to be more random. For lack of better words, I will call the group that says that “there are no coincidences” the “Believers” and the other group that says, “They are all just random events,” the “Statisticians”. The Believers think that everything is predestined, while the Statisticians think that these are all just random events that can be calculated as possibilities. Both sides can argue the point, and both sides have points. Both can be true, and both are true at different times. I do not have an exact answer. I am a “wonderer”. That is my position. My general conclusion though, is that there are two main types of coincidences — “Manifestations” and “Occurrences”. Manifestations are coincidences that happen after we have thought about them. Occurrences are just random events we happen to notice. We are more likely to notice the coincidences that we “seem” to initiate, the “manifested” ones.

Basically, if the idea of coincidence is the trunk of the tree, then there are two main branches — those we seem to initiate, “Manifested Coincidences” (or M.C.) and those we notice, which are “Coincidental Occurrences” (or C.O.). The two examples given above are Manifested Coincidences. The distinction is rather black and white, although few things are so defined. If you wondered about it or thought about it or entertained yourself with it, then it is an M.C. If it simply happens and you noticed it, then it is a C.O., although most C.O.s go unnoticed even though they happen around us all the time.

Most of us would agree that an M.C. is more significant than a C.O. Most coincidences have no “meaning,” at least not that we can find. It is hard enough to find meaning in the ones we seem to initiate (and I realize that once we consider that we have initiated a coincidence, it now becomes causal, and therefore, it is no longer a coincidence. For the sake of this conversation, let’s just entertain the idea).

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The word “apophenia” means to be aware of random events. It is important to be aware of things where the idea of coincidence is concerned. Once, while on business in New York, I met a woman in the morning and chatted with her. In the late afternoon, I took a cab all the way across town. I was actually going to meet Andy Warhol. I exited my cab on a corner, and turned around and there she was just 3 feet from me, the woman I had spoken with eight hours earlier. I looked at her and said, “It’s our destiny to meet,” and I invited her to join me and meet Andy. She may have thought I was stalking her, or perhaps she had no sense of the moment and adventure. She gave me a strange look and said, “No thanks.” For some of us (humans), curiosity, silliness, and adventuresomeness just do not exist, but it is the way to manifest unusual events (if she is reading this, please contact me, to finalize the coincidence).

At the same time I was trying to break down the categories, I mentioned it to my friend Jennifer. I discovered that she had also been thinking about different types of coincidences. I found that to be an amazing coincidence in itself. One special instance left her looking up the word “lemming” in the dictionary. It seemed she had missed this word her entire life. However, the next day she came upon the same word after having just learned it. Of course, we could say that learning the word made it more available to her. We decided to call coincidences relating to learning and knowledge a “lemming coincidence”.

I have categorized coincidences into 18 distinct subtypes, which can appear as Manifested Coincidences (M.C.) or Coincidental Occurrences (C.O.).

SIMPLE coincidence: For example, bumping into a friend unexpectedly. This would be a C.O.

BASIC coincidence: For example, thinking about someone and then seeing this person. This would be considered an M.C. However considering how long it takes for it to happen and how remarkable the situation is will also determine its significance.

MIRACLES can, in some cases, be considered coincidences. In most cases, they would be C.O.s.

DISCOVERY or LEMMINGS are coincidences of learning, language, and knowledge. These would be M.C.s, because we wonder about them ahead of time. Or we learn something and immediately have the opportunity to use the knowledge.

COMPLEX coincidences come about when many coincidences happen in a cascade of events each resulting in another coincidence. They may take years to actually happen; it is like a series of dominoes. You may only understand it by tracing each unique coincidence backwards over time before you realize how truly unusual the event has been. One could argue, though that any coincidence is complex in its nature. These can be either an M.C. or a C.O.

For example, on September 11, 2001, the world shared a collective complex coincidental occurrence. Nineteen men hijacked four jetliners and blew up several buildings. It was numerically astronomical that they would be able to succeed. However, because hundreds of people ignored details, discounted subordinates’ pleas, and/or failed to notice odd behavior, an

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impossible goal became a reality. Honestly and quietly, it makes me wonder, how powerful is Allah?

INTERSECTED coincidences occur in the moment of a coincidence. For example, I was dining with a friend in Portland Oregon. I shared with him that I wanted to track down a mutual acquaintance of ours, Abigail. He found it was odd that he never accidently bumped into her as long as he has lived in Portland since they lived in the same neighborhood and frequented similar places. We were sitting at a table in the middle of the restaurant and I heard my name called and looked up. In a moment I realized that Abigail and her husband Marcus were sitting at a booth just a few feet away. We all had a good laugh as they had also been recently thinking about me. These can be M.C. or a C.O.

COMPOUND coincidences result when a coincidence never seems to end, they appear as a continuous stream of events that seem to keep it alive. The more intersects the more “meaning” of course, whatever that means. The most I ever had in a short period (14 days, see the sound of music example) were 7. A good coincidence can easily have two or three sequences. These are most likely started as C.O. but may evolve as you become aware of the occurrences.

RELATED coincidences are not ours but occur when we are part of someone else’s coincidence. Imagine you are the person who is “being thought about,” and then you show up at the office of the person who was thinking about you the next day. These will always be M.C. coincidences.

UNDISCOVERED coincidences are the most common type. Imagine you’re wondering about someone, and in fact, this person is in the aisle next to you at the market, but you did not notice him or her. This is the most common type of coincidence; we just do not realize it. These are all around us all the time. These can be either M.C.s or C.O.s.

NUMERICAL coincidences happen to many people they are usually linked to dates and times. Personally though, I have not had any numerical coincidences that I can think of that ever had any relevance. It does make me wonder why? I have no answer; all my coincidences are linked to ideas or inquiries.

SERENDIPITY or FATE are coincidences that determine our destiny. They are always important to us because they are usually in the area that defines who we fall in love with and how we choose our careers. These can appear as M.C.s or C.O.s.

LUCK and DUMB LUCK, which sometimes saves our lives, are actually coincidences. What makes luck “lucky” is what we do with it in the moment. Many extraordinary things happen to us during our lives that we misunderstand or fail to act on. These instances never become anything, like luck lost, having never been found. Imagine a surfer in a contest who does not paddle into an amazing wave and never catches it. Luck is about awareness. These are likely to be C.O.s.

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DREAMS COMING TRUE or PRAYERS ANSWERED could also be considered coincidences. These would always be M.C.

HAPPENSTANCE is a form of coincidence. However depending on your view of coincidence you may give no meaning to it.

EPIPHANIES are coincidences of awareness, between the event and an understanding of it. They would be C.O.s, because we were not thinking about them; we just “became aware”.

IRONY is a form of coincidence that I think we all understand. An ironic event is a coincidence of awareness or a form of apophenia.

DÉJÀ VU is a form of coincidence. I think the “feeling” that we call déjà vu is the “fleeting moment” between something that just happened — a current event — and an old dream that is stored way back in the recesses of the psyche. They intersect in an instant. We just cannot quite “put our finger on it” or grasp it. It is, literally, like something “on the tip of our tongue”. For example, sometimes, I will realize that something happening in the moment is similar to a dream I had the night before, which I had no recall of until that moment. The real event awakens the story of the dream. Now, imagine that it was a dream from a year or 10 years ago. What would it “feel” like to us? It would feel like what we call DÉJÀ VU. It is a CO.

SYNCHRONISTIC coincidences are the most important types, because they require thought in advance. They will always be M.C.s. They appear to be “caused” by something other than just random possibilities. They are the types that cause the most contention between the two sides, Believers and Statisticians. Synchronistic coincidences are what Jung was writing about when he called synchronicity “an acausal connecting principle”. A synchronistic coincidence occurs when a person wants something, needs something, has an inquiry, is curious, or has perhaps just learned something and even dwells on the subject. This need or question, or the opportunity to use some knowledge, actually happens when someone else shows it to them or asks them a question, not knowing that they have just learned it. Or perhaps they open a book to a page that gives them the answer. In my case, for example, finding the Red Carpet ticket was a synchronistic coincidence because I wondered what a better use of the metaphor “red carpet” might be, and I found an answer to my inquiry 10 minutes later. Meeting the Dalai Lama when I wondered what it would be like to meet him is also a perfect example of a synchronistic coincidence. Included in the synchronistic category are Basic (2), Discoveries (5), Complex (7), Compound (8), Related (9), Serendipity (10), and Dreams Coming True (13).

The one coincidence that we are all familiar with is serendipity, which I reserved for two very easily identifiable categories in our lives — career and romance. A serendipitous event sets us on the course for our careers; something happens, and we start down a road. It might be a good road or a bad road, but a road it is. Similarly, a serendipitous event can provide the opportunity to be introduced to somebody with whom we fall in love and have a family, or do not, depending on the situation. It frequently becomes our destiny.

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I recently had a synchronistic coincidence, which came to light when my six-and-a-half-year-old daughter Isabelle showed me something I was “wondering” about. I had wanted to take her to see the silent film The Artist (not thinking that she would not be able to read the subtitles quickly enough, and not knowing that it was not a story for kids) but thought it would be better if I showed her some Chaplin films to acquaint her with the style. We went to the library and checked out two DVDs, one of some shorts and the other being Limelight. We watched half the shorts when I started to wonder if these were just bad shots or if Chaplin was not as funny as I remembered him. They simply were not that interesting. I pulled out the DVD and put Limelight on. We both enjoyed it and cried at the end. Then I returned the two discs to the library.

Something was bothering me, though. I kept wondering, what were the rest of the shorts like on that DVD we had turned off? I had this thought on and off for a while and considered going back to the library to check the DVD out again.

About two weeks later, Isabelle and I were walking on Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles. We walked by an old, restored building, and she stopped me and said, “Dad, I think I see Charlie Chaplin in the lobby of that building.” I was surprised but went into the building, to see and sure enough, there “he” was. The directory board was actually a video screen, until you pushed a button and the directory came up. Otherwise, it was running a continuous loop of old Chaplin shorts. We looked at the screen. Amazingly it was showing the same group of shorts we had watched at home, and it was at the exact same scene at which I had removed the disc. I wondered why the shorts were even being shown in the lobby. I quickly realized that we actually in the lobby where some on the shorts were shot. Isabelle had recognized Chaplin through the thick glass from only a slight glimpse of the screen as she walked by. Question: What were the other shorts like on the DVD? They were much better and funnier, so I had my answer. Again, inquiry, and an answer, this one took about 2 weeks.

While researching Jung, I came across an interesting story about a scarab beetle. It is a familiar story to any Jung enthusiast. It was interesting to me because I also had a similar coincidence in my life. Jung had a female patient who was extremely intelligent and rational and who resisted his therapy. On one occasion, she was telling him about a dream she had, in which she’d received an expensive piece of jewelry, a golden scarab. While she was sharing the story, Jung heard a noise on the window coming from the outside. He opened up the window, and a beautiful, iridescent beetle flew in. He caught it in his hand and gave it to her. In this act, she was transformed, took the therapy more seriously, and was able move forward and work out her issues.

My Scarab story happened one lazy day in Venice Beach, California, I was sitting outside my neighborhood coffee house. Along came a large, aggressive, flying scarab beetle. It was beautiful, iridescent green and about a half-inch long. It was so aggressive that people were diving underneath their tables; it actually hit me. It finally landed on my table, and I put a glass over it, slid a piece of paper underneath, and captured it. It was ferocious and in a rage. It looked at me through the glass and buzzed its head off. The glass was pulsating and I could feel its anger at being caught. Everybody on the patio came over to look at it. Now, you do not

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know this, but I like to collect bugs. However, I will only collect them after they have died. I could not kill the insect and decided to release it. This beautiful scarab Beetle flew out of the glass and looked me straight in the eye with a glare and flew off. At the time, I lived across the street in a condo complex on the second floor, down an outside hall and an outside “interior” walkway, all open to the air. When I got home that evening, I looked down and was stunned to see a beautiful, iridescent blue and green form radiating on my doormat. I realized that exactly in the middle of my doormat was a dead scarab beetle. It was glowing in the evening light. Was it the same scarab beetle? I do not know. They are very rare in Venice Beach. But it did not really matter to me. I experienced it as a gift, and I still have it. It is the centerpiece of my small, dead-bugs-only insect collection. It worked again; I wanted something that I did not want to kill so I received it as a gift. This was an M.C.

Very recently, I experienced a series of synchronistic coincidences related to the film The Sound of Music, after purchasing a DVD of it at an estate sale. I had not seen the film since I was a child and thought my daughter would enjoy it. We watched it and both loved it. A few days later, I read an article on the Internet by a writer who was making a point about rhetorical questions. He chose the song Maria from The Sound of Music as an example of a few rhetorical questions — “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” and “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” I thought; that is an odd little coincidence.

Then, a few more days later, my daughter’s piano teacher gave her the next piano assignment. It was Climb Every Mountain, from The Sound of Music.

A week later, I was having dinner at my friend Eileen’s house. She had a friend there named Alfred. He was from the village in Austria where the story of The Sound of Music actually took place. He shared that they were building a Von Trapp museum there, because they had nothing else to “sell” in the town, and they wanted to capitalize on the fame of the film. Then, strangely, during dinner that evening, an obscure music show was on. All of a sudden, we realized that they were playing the song Maria, but not from the film; someone was just singing it. That was the fourth connection for the one event which I thought was very unusual.

A few more days passed, and I was at home with my daughter. We were cleaning up things in the den. I found a DVD of her first ballet recital. She, of course, wanted to watch it. There were probably 10 or 15 different recitals on the DVD, but the very first one was Climb Every Mountain, from (you guessed it) The Sound of Music. Again several days later, I was at an event with Eileen and I joked with her that I hoped I had heard the last of The Sound Of Music. She looked up, joked, and asked a friend of hers who was standing nearby, “What is your favorite musical?” He said, “The Sound of Music, of course.” In total, I encountered 6 intersections related to The Sound of Music over a 3-week period. It was getting annoying. Then several weeks later I learned that Christopher Plummer, the father in the movie had the same birthday as me. I finally decided that I better make sure my daughter continues playing the piano. In total I had seven intersects for the same event. Incredible I thought.

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One of the most important considerations to make regarding coincidences is the very subjective nature of the value of an event. I do not really know how to set some reasonable rules for the value of a coincidence. It is up to us as individuals to decide what is important to us. I know one, thing though, where there is a value, there is always a cost. For example, when we read about health care fraud, we are left with the impression that a billion dollars stolen from taxpayers are “lost”. But the money is not really lost; it is simply reintroduced or redistributed back into the economy by the perpetrators, as goods and services purchased by them. Even vandalism can be looked at from another perspective, when you consider that the items are replaced by making new purchases. So, every manifested coincidence that has value must have a cost. The cost might be in not understanding it or misinterpreting it, getting it wrong, or maybe making a decision about it, which turned out to be a mistake. How do we know these things? I do not have an answer.

If you think about a friend then meet that friend within minutes, you feel the power of the coincidence much more strongly than if it had happened days later. If it is someone you haven’t seen for years, then the coincidence will seem stronger. If the meeting is in an unusual place, then it will seem stronger still. Nearly all my coincidences happen within a week’s time. Some may linger over a few weeks, as did the story of Chaplin (nearly 2 weeks) and The Sound of Music (more than 3 weeks), however that one continued to develop.  

When I wondered about red carpets, I got my answer within 10 minutes. When I wondered about the Dalai Lama, I got my answer within 30 minutes. The scarab took 6 or 7 hours. There must be some consideration to dissipation, time, or how long it should take for a coincidence to be considered as such. Time is juxtaposed against the event itself, leaving us to wonder whether the event is important or just an accident that happened quickly after we wondered about it.

One of my most unusual manifestations took 16 years to come to life. In my early 20s I was sitting with friends, we had smoked some marijuana and we were all making up our perfect woman. Everyone had a desire, most were common though. Large breasts, blond hair and blue eyes, etcetera. I was the last to share and my imagination was in high gear. My perfect woman spoke 5 languages because I wanted to travel. My perfect woman was a lawyer because I wanted a woman that was logical. And lastly, my perfect woman was genuine, authentic and unaffected, so naturally, she was from a small island in the South Pacific. We all burst out into laughter and they berated me for my foolish fantasy. They said, “You will never find a woman like that”. I laughed at them and said “That’s why they call it a fantasy. If you want big boobs go look out the window and pick someone, yours aren’t fantasies, they are desires. Mine is truly a fantasy because it will never happen”.  The years went by and I had long ago completely forgotten my ideal.

One day, 16 years later I found myself in Brussels, Belgium at an elegant event. I had a new suit and a teal overcoat and most of my hair, as well as being an honored guest at the event. A woman caught my eye there because she seemed out of place in the glamorous room, she

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appeared “unaffected” by the event. She was clutching a notepad and seemed to have no interest in the actual event. I asked the director of the event who she was? He introduced us; she had a Spanish first name a German last name and unrecognizable middle name. We spoke at some length but she was with a very beautiful woman, whom she incorrectly presumed I was really interested in so she kept drifting away. Finally it dawned on her that it was she I wanted to know. The mysterious woman with wild black hair told me she spoke five languages and in fact was a lawyer. My fantasy was so far removed from my mind that it did not occur to me. I invited her to lunch the next day and she accepted. The next morning I received a message that our lunch was cancelled. Oh, well I thought, nothing ventured nothing gained. I do not mind rejection or failure; it is my own inaction that annoys me. I decided not to call her back, but later on in the day I simply changed my mind. In that moment my life changed forever.

I called her back and she invited me to dinner that night. We found a small place near the Grand Plaza, and it was an extraordinary plaza. During our walk to the restaurant I learned that she had 2 law degrees and she told me she was from “a leetle village, from a leetle island from a leetle country”. I laughed at her cute accent. I realized later that her island was actually a very small atoll in the South Pacific; their water was collected in a cistern. Believe it or not I still did not make the connection to my fantasy years before. We finally sat down at the table and shortly after she looked at me and said, “May I ask you a question”? “Of course”, I answered. She looked at me as serious as could be and said “Are you a homosexual?” I was certainly taken aback but not shocked. I answered, “No, I am not, but it is an unusual question for a diplomat of the European Union to ask a stranger”. She answered, “Oh, please do not be offended, you are so elegant (my new suit I guess and the teal overcoat), I cannot imagine what you see in me”. It was then, that it hit me, like a bomb going off in my mind. I realized in that instant that I was inside of my manifestation from 16 years earlier. Here she was, a woman that spoke five languages, was a lawyer and from a small island in the South Pacific. She was so authentic and genuine that she did not recognize her own grace. In fact I later learned, her grandmother was the queen of the “island” making her technically a princess. Her middle name, Tepakeva meant White Bird Flying Away. I thought it was a beautiful expression for a person raised on an Atoll yet representing her country to the European Union.

Shortly after I arrived back in the States I took a business trip to Detroit. I went to a Lebanese restaurant for dinner with some colleagues. The hostess there was famous for her ability to read the coffee grinds in the Turkish coffee cups. I asked her if she would read mine. She took the cup out of my hand and spun and swirled it around, then looked inside, and said, “I see travel to foreign lands over water.” “You say that to everyone”, I said to her. She said, “See for yourself”.  I looked inside the cup, and sure enough, the entire rim of the cup had stylized waves all around it. They were the kind you see in old Oriental paintings. I told her I was impressed. Again, she swirled the cup around and looked inside once more, then back at me with a look of bewilderment on her face. She said, “I see a White Bird, Flying Away.” I was speechless, I looked into the cup and sure enough, perfectly outlined by the black grinds white against the porcelain, was an outline of a dove. The bird was clearly flying out of the cup, almost at the rim. I was stunned. I told the woman that “white bird flying away” is the middle name of a       

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woman I had just met. We all looked into the cup, every single person at the table saw the same thing. It was a white bird (a dove), and it flying up near the top of the rim. How could it be I wondered, the hostess herself was a little unnerved by the reading? I asked her a simple question. “Have you ever assembled those four words together in that order?” She had not, nor had I ever assembled those four words together in that order, “White Bird Flying Away”. Unless I am speaking about the event I have no reason to put those four words together in that order.  

This was one of the most impressive coincidences I have ever had and to this day it still is hard to believe. Interestingly, it also made me realize that what seems like destiny may not be anything more than an extraordinary coincidence because sadly, the relationship did not stand the test of time. Things that seem to have been written in the stars can even fail, everything requires work and compromise. I also learned another big lesson — leave the orchid where it blooms. In addition, I discovered that love and fascination appear identical. Love is not blind so much as being fascinated is blinding. Things can appear to be written in the stars but, so what? I also realized that my destiny had been altered by a phone call one afternoon, when I just as easily could have forgotten about her. Life turns on a dime, very literally. If we search back far enough in our lives we can actually pinpoint the important intersections when our worlds changed forever.

One of my strangest M.C.s started rather like the red carpet story. I was driving to work one day and listening to Dennis Prager, a conservative moralist, on the radio. He would pose a moral dilemma in our society and ask listeners to call and voice their opinions. Every now and again, he would actually change his position if someone made a more powerful argument. Occasionally, he would ask his assistant, Manya, to take down a caller’s number so he could follow up with the person later. I became curious about Manya. I wondered what she looked like and how old she was and if she was funny. Of course, just like the red carpet story, it was a silly exercise, because I was certain I was never going to meet her (or was I?) That evening, I left work and went home to my condominium. There was a homeowners’ meeting, and it was a raucous event. We were arguing about the termites that had nested in the walls. I was sitting next to a woman who I had seen for a few years in the building. We always said hello but had never really spoken. After a while, I asked her what she “did,” and she said she worked for a radio station. I asked her which one. “KABC,” she said. Then I asked for whom she worked. “Dennis Prager,” she said. Finally…with great anticipation, I asked her name. “Manya” was her answer. Here, right next to me, was the woman I had spent my entire morning daydreaming about. I told her that I had been thinking about her, but I do not think she understood what I meant. When I shared the story with her she seemed surprisingly uninterested.

There are nearly 20 million people in the Los Angeles area. Manya could have lived anywhere. What were the odds that she lived in my building, as well as her attending the meeting and sitting next to me? The task was made a little easier, though, because her name was not so common. It occurred to me afterwards that I could have sat next to her and never learned her name, which would have made it an undiscovered coincidence.

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Looking back on some of my coincidences; if I take a metaphysical or spiritual position on an M.C., I can almost believe that I “willed” the piece of paper to blow in through my window and that I “caused” an insect to expire on my doorstep. However, I cannot fathom how I could “force” the Dalai Lama to “meet” me, nor comprehend how it came to be that Manya was sitting next to me the day I was wondering about her. I do not understand how coffee grinds could look like a white bird flying out of a cup. It is sometimes disturbing when these things happen, because I cannot establish my own purpose in it, or the meaningfulness in the meaninglessness, except the pleasure in the observations and the “fun of it”.

For many years, I took a spiritual position on my coincidental episodes. But then I began to wonder about it. What if this is simply just about a lot of unusual things happening but there is nothing really meaningful about them? So, eventually, I embraced a non-spiritual position more as a rebellion against popular culture and the notions of spirituality. Spirituality was fashionable, and I wanted to take a stand against the spiritual position. In addition, I saw myself as grounded on the planet, I am just an earthling, and spirits and spirituality exist above the ground, where “god” lives. Over the last few years, I’ve started to go back in the spiritual direction because I have exhausted my own non or anti-spiritual position and do not want to be stuck in my own dogma.

Perhaps I am living in grace and do not realize it. Clearly, there are mysteries in the universe that cannot be explained, at least not by me, although many do try. Frankly, thinking and believing in things is not knowing them. Is spirituality the way to manifest things? If so, then how could I be manifesting things that I deny the existence of? I do not know. Must a “manifestor” be a spiritual person? Maybe some of us are facilitators. What about psychics? Are they manifestors?

Many people never have extraordinary coincidences in their lives. That may be because they do not wonder enough and do not notice things. So, wondering is essential if you plan on having unusual events happen. The most important part of manifesting unusual events or having an M.C. in your life is to live as “big” as you possibly can. Do not be shy. This means having a relentless imagination. Also, try being a bit experimental at times. An M.C. will happen when you use your imagination. Below are the 5 steps you can take to create an M.C. in your life but simply stated, “leave no stone unturned”.

Before we get into the 5 steps it will be helpful to consider freeing up your mind of some “distracting” ideas. These ideas might be stumbling blocks to achieving your goal of manifesting unusual coincidences. It will take a little bit of imagination but that is what the entire exercise is all about anyway.

Genes, Gender, Generation and Geography. Most of us “live” inside of a discipline defined by these 4 G words which, coincidentally are “the four questions” (Not the Passover ones though). They are, Who, we are, our GENES. What, we are our GENDER. When we are, our   GENERATION. Where we are, our GEOGRAPHY. Resulting in Why we are. These basic ideas (words) keep us trapped in a box of sorts, and why wouldn’t they? They are impossible to

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escape. How can we even imagine we are not part of how we were raised, our intellect? How can we consider being genderless? And how could we ever think we are not a product of our time? And lastly, how can we consider ourselves as observers only and not linked to a place on the globe where we grew up? OK, just try it for the fun of it. The ultimate perspective lies in removing ourselves from the conversation and just being an observer with no investment and no attachment to the outcome.

For your consideration; in helping to understand these perspectives as human beings we create                                      templates that we use to help us understand the physical world around us and to help us navigate the complexities of other human beings. These templates, like coins have two sides. We are constantly inside of a dynamic that we negotiate between ourselves and other people or our world. Imagine that we are living inside of a Lava Lamp. The constraints of the lamp, the container are our physical world. As we move around it everything inside the Lava Lamp world is affected. It is important that we always look at both sides of the template as ask ourselves if we are understanding what is happening or are we misunderstanding.

Next, let’s take a moment now and work on jettisoning two words that are also distracting and supplanting them with “healthier” words (ideas). The two words are Expect and Opinions. Most of my insights arise and arrive out of an epiphany or an extended inquiry. When one of these events happens to me, I find myself in an exhaustive search for an answer. Personally, I am an S.E.E. a “self entertaining entity” I find it fun and interesting and in the end hopefully I am a better person for it. Something must have happened to me that caused me to examine the word “expect”. I suppose that someone probably said to me they “expected” something from me and I launched myself into an inquiry. Or perhaps I realized that I expected something from someone. The word seemed to impose someone else’s expectation on me and I realized that nearly all our disappointment stems from unrealized expectations. So, I simply asked myself a question; what if the word “expect” did not exist, what would happen? Would disappointment disappear? It seemed too simple, but I played around with the idea while sitting at stop lights doing nothing other than thinking.  

Firstly, if you remove a particular word from the lexicon you create a vacuum of sorts, which more or less must be replaced or supplanted with words or ideas that properly fill that vacuum, (because nature hates a vacuum, or so it is thought. There are some experiments suggesting some exceptions.). For a long time I wondered about some good replacement words for “expect”. I suppose I should have gone to my Thesaurus first but I just played around with the idea while I was driving and did not look it up (I finally did several years after playing around with the idea). Most of my words/thoughts were there but a few were not.

Here are some replacement words or ideas for EXPECT;

envisioned

hoped for

planned on

had wanted

wished for 

looking forward to

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desired

assumed

presumed

anticipated

figured as much

counted on

did not doubt

knew? 

needed

understood it

perceived

These words or ideas all worked pretty well for me, but most importantly they put the disappointment on myself and I soon learned to live without the word expect. I just stopped using it and stopped thinking in terms of it. I do think it is absolutely a correct word to use for a woman who is pregnant though. She has a right to expect something to happen, whether she wants it or not. I sometimes do think in terms of expect when something good happens that is “unexpected” surprise, although “unplanned good surprise” is fine also. It is also OK to use when trying not to use it. It is also perfectly useful as a philosophical debate.

I saw this as a bell curve, replacement words were in the middle. There were some words though, that seemed important in the model that I could not use as replacements. I put them on the right and left side of the curve. Two of them are “require” and “insist” because in fact while we should not expect things, we do require and can insist on things from other people but, they must be properly informed that we require something of them. If we have not properly alerted them of our absolute need, demand or requirement then the problem is still ours, not theirs. Communication is key when using this word; “requirement”. I suspect most of the time we are guilty of not speaking clearly about our requirements and instead leave it to the other person to somehow magically “know” what we were “expecting from them”. I also found the word “imagine” important in the model but it was on the complete opposite side of requirement, it was not the same as the replacement words. It placed everything in my imagination where expect belongs 

Anyway, after working with the idea for many years I have found it does its job in helping me take responsibility for everything that goes wrong in my life and I have a peaceful co-existence with everyone around me when I do not use the word expect. In fact it is my least favorite word in the world.

The other word I would like you to consider jettisoning is “opinion”. Our opinions are mostly made up of the 4 G words (stated above, genes, gender, generation and geography). Our society and social status and religious background and education certainly influence the way the world occurs to us. However we do not need to be committed to those “opinions” formed as we grew up. Our opinions are not absolutes and they are not essential to our wellbeing.

Consider using the same rule used for the word expect but put in the word opinions instead. You would certainly have to supplant those opinions with other ideas as we did for expect. Consider supplanting your opinions with the word perspective. Now, imagine you were an ant

walking around the rim of a three foot wide bowl. Where the bowl is placed is certainly important. Imagine the bowl is placed on top of a mountain or imagine it is placed on the ground

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or in a kitchen. As you walk along the rim and look forwards you cannot help but notice that the scene continuously changes. Consider that every 5 degrees your ant “world view” changes slightly and every 90 degrees your “world view” changes greatly. By the time you have walked

half way around your “world” it is completely different, giving you an entirely new perspective on how “the world occurs” to you. Of course your perception of what you see will vary but that is how you will interpret every position on the “globe”. Do not worry, you will get back to yourself and your heart will tell you what is true and right. The difference is you will now be free to change your mind by changing your perspective on the subject. Using this technique will help

you when manifesting extraordinary coincidences. Or when trying to manifest anything you want.

Below are the five simple steps.

STEP ONE: Purity in your thoughts is important. It does not matter what you’re wondering; just wonder, with no agenda, or you may find yourself inside of an M.C. and missing it because of an “impurity” in your desire.

STEP TWO: Deconstruct your thought. Imagine you have a deck of cards placed face up on a table. Fifty-two cards are facing upwards, and they represent your desire or your inquiry, which is now deconstructed and spread out. Each card represents part of your desire or your wish or your thoughts. You do not need to use all 52 cards. They are just a visual aid.

STEP THREE: Distill your thought down to something very essential. Imagine you have reassembled the cards and put them back together in a logical order. Your thought is now deconstructed, distilled, condensed, and reorganized into something focused.  

STEP FOUR: Project your thought or thoughts. Imagine you are wearing a twenty four karat gold leaf leotard that is studded with Swarovski crystals. You are an ice skater, spinning at high speed on an ice rink that is miles in diameter. You appear as a cylindrical tube tapered at both ends. From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, sparks are exploding and shooting off of you in all directions; continuously.  The faster you spin the farther the sparks fly; You are a spinning ball of fire.

Inevitably, you will ignite something around you. If you’re thinking and imagining and projecting enough “energy” or enough thoughts, something will happen; of this I am absolutely certain. It is the key to the process. You do not need to write it down or verbally talk about it. You simply need to “spin it out there”.

STEP FIVE: Be aware, because you may be inside of your manifestation and not realize it, and because of this, you will miss it and your opportunity. This has happened to me many times, like the traveler that missed the right train. That train left the station already and you cannot retrieve it.

Jung suggested that there was a oneness in the universe. Yet he also believed that common notions of causality could not explain some complex coincidences. This I strongly agree with, based on my own experiences. In trying to understand my own role in this process and make sense of the numerous events in my own life, several things have occurred to me. First, I think it is important to immerse yourself in every conversation you have, because you never know when someone is going to say something truly amazing to you or “cause an occurrence to happen”. If

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a conversation is worth starting, it is worth investing in. How you live your life is also important. For example, if you stay in your neighborhood and watch TV all day, unusual events are less

likely to happen. It is important that you go out and meet people and try new things all the time. Another is having a very open mind to things around you. Remember, abandon your opinions as

much as possible, and live in a world ruled by perspectives, which gives you the freedom to be creative and even change your mind because you have changed your perspective. Wonder about things all the time, and be a “projector” of your thoughts and ideas. Basically, be curious and inquisitive about things, and things will happen.

For example, while driving home recently after visiting friends at a sports bar, I wondered about Freud and Einstein in a sports bar. I imagined them sharing their ideas and finding nobody interested in them. They would fall flat on their faces and would decide not to pursue their theories. Just at that moment, when I came to a stop, I looked up and noticed that the car in front of me had a license plate that read, “E=MCSQ”. The driver had actually taken two pieces of tape to make the equal sign. A great coincidence is like having magic happen to you by accident. It makes you smile and wonder about the mysteries around all of us. In a way, it can connect us to the universe all around us and leave us thinking about things we simply do not truly understand. I have chosen to share only a few of my own coincidences, but I have many others that are at least as unique as the ones above.

There are things we learn, things we are taught, and things we discover. The things we discover are always sweeter. I have discovered that by investing myself in every moment, in every idea, in every concept, and in every conversation, unusual things can and will occur.

What is the meaning of a coincidence? Regarding the meaning of any coincidence, it is the meaning we give it. For me, the meaning of a coincidence is that it has become part of life. I call it my hobby. We are all S.E.E.s, Self-Entertaining Entities. So let’s indulge ourselves in thoughts and ideas and sometimes even silliness. The nice thing about having a hobby like this is that you never know when something extraordinary will happen.

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