Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The "Nearby Stranger" Synchronicity

Imagine this, if you will:
You are in a restaurant, alone, immersed in a book as you tend your meal. Seated one table over, two fellow patrons sit in deep, passionate conversation, which you can't help but overhear as you read. Then, suddenly: you come to a random word in the text, totally at random -- at the exact moment that one of your next-door neighbors speak that same word, as randomly, yet with a perfect, seamless timing. There's no hint of complicity on the peoples' part, with the echoed word being a simple, natural part of their conversation, completely relevant to its flow and subject matter. What's more, the people are fully oblivious to you and your book; they are, in fact, both facing away from you, such that it's physically impossible for them to see what you're reading, in any case.

You blink, struck by the echo. Did you really just hear that? You give pause ... then return to your reading. Just a coincidence.
However, moments later, it happens again. Different word, but as randomly, and with that same impossibly precise timing.

Then, before you've sufficiently convinced yourself of the last one's insignificance, a third echo occurs -- and this time it's two words, and these more specific, obscure, rarer, not heard in everyday language. And with that same, synchronous overlap.
Now, take that scenario and multiply it, so that the theoretical strangers' conversation repeatedly echoes the exact words and phrases you encounter in your reading, five, six, seven times -- a dozen, and now reflecting even more nuanced qualities, such as words and objects in the exact same contexts and usage, and thematic, non-literal (but no less explicit) parallels, and profounder details still. Over the course of the couple's thirty-minute discussion, there are so many hits, and with such identical, patternistic behavior, the chances of simple coincidence grow astronomically high. With each new repetition, it gets harder and harder to reasonably consider any notion of a purely "rational" explanation.

That's the "nearby stranger" type of synchronicity I speak of, and it is one I have experienced, to date, several dozen times.

* * *

This category of the phenomenon speaks for itself, even within the scatterbrained writing of my personal incident log. So, rather than explain further, I'll let the entries doing the talking, verbatim, through several choice instances that exemplify the various intricacies and sub-types of this particular animal, taken at random from 2016:

"[It started with me] holding up an 'XL' tank top at the thrift store and determining that it was a child's extra-large (it was very small, no way it would fit me) precisely as a nearby stranger said to her child, 'It's for little people'"


"Precisely as I reached for the butter container holding my lunch, a nearby stranger said 'margarine,' in perfectly synchronistic fashion. Interestingly, I'd thought the container was for margarine instead of butter"


"A cool one at lunch, another of those 'nearby stranger echoing my book' ones, today a lady at the Hot Springs coffee shop saying 'old age' precisely as I read 'eighty-year-olds' in the "Sunburned Country" book -- another of those precisely imprecise ones, with the same underlying archetype of 'old,' etc, and again fitting that same pattern of the person being engaged in conversation with another stranger and being unable to even see my book, etc, etc."


"[...] right as I read 'cries of delight,' a random car passed with a child calling out the window, making a high, loud, cheerful noise that can only be described as a 'cry of delight.' Wow."


"Also, a cool and somewhat unique 'nearby strangers talking'-type one at lunch. While I was reading about general music stuff and specifically how Jerry Garcia had to be taught to play music again, two people at a nearby table were undergoing a job interview where a guy was getting a job as a musical instructor as some kind, with their conversation echoing what I was reading in the book but only in vague and subtle ways, as to only really be notable when taken into account collectively, rather than those more explicit ones like before. The most explicit/synchronous it got in this regard was when the man at the table said 'Nashville' precisely as I read 'country and western' in the book (and, it bears mentioning, the man was referring to Nashville in the same musical context as the book)."


"[...] And then, at Dr. Scaffidi's office, a really cool and striking one where precisely as I turned a page in a random magazine and revealed 'TRACK' written in big letters on the fresh page, Dr. Scaffidi said 'track' to his patient, when both were in the other room and entirely out of view of me, etc [...]"


"Precisely as I read 'See that?' in the 'Zeitoun' book, a nearby woman said 'No, haven't seen that part' -- not 100% precise literally, yet was in essence, and also sort of like that thought/reading one from yesterday with the house, in a 'question and answer' format"
And so on and so forth. Again, I'll avoid overstatement, and end the post here. Make of it what you will.

(For the curious, there's plenty more incidents where those came from, beginning before August of '16 and running right up to the present. Read 'em at the log.)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

... And the Book-Thematics Continue

A quick follow-up to my last post, about my recent book-thematic incident involving Kafka's Metamorphosis.

It happened again. And, this time the circumstances were even more improbable.

In short: instead of forgetting my book and being forced to grab one randomly from the internet, I finished one unexpectedly and was left without a replacement or a place to buy one, after which I eventually unearthed one from a random mound of trash along a random city street in the middle of the night -- yet, it turned out to be as synchronistic and life-echoing as the first one (and, as I would discover, quite a good read, too).

My rambling 12/6/17 log entry describes it best (and is oddly appropriate, given the sheer craziness at play), so I'll let it speak for itself, verbatim:

"[...] It started yesterday when the fasting book proved to be shorter than I'd expected, and thus left me finishing it at dinnertime last night and not having a replacement lined up for lunch today, and so last night I'd gone searching for either a free book somewhere, or one thrown away as trash, or a book store -- and, in the end, all I found was a trash book, and at the end of a hugely random search that I won't bother trying to detail other than that it contained a lot of Compellings, and eventually me getting lost and having to double back through several blocks of the city several times -- and then, at the end of this headspinning ordeal, I Just Happened to come to a big pile of 'someone moved out of their apartment'-type of mounds of trash, in which was a big bag of books, and in which I found this "Short Eyes" book (which, besides being notable itself given the chances of getting any books from random trash, this one was actually one I had on my list that I wanted to read, after hearing about it somewhere several months ago -- a little ask-n-receive in itself, pretty much standout quality in itself). So then, just like the Kafka book from last week or whenever that happened, I ended up reading this ridiculously random, couldn't-have-been-less-likely "Short Eyes" book at lunch today, yet it managed to echo not only my life/thoughts in longwinded thematic/parallel fashion, but also to echo a bunch more of those small in-the-moment thought/environmental events -- just so incredible and living-dream, even after it had happened before, haha."

* * *

And then the next day, it happened again, identical in nature and insane unlikelihood, but now involving a random eBook I'd downloaded years ago, partially read, and then abandoned ... only to return to it out of simple necessity on 12/7, and find it to echo my life and circumstances and surroundings at that particular date and time.

Another befittingly messy log entry:

"[...] And today was identical even in the book being yet another 'ridiculously/impossibly random book read only because of finishing one without having another one ready,' this time, after my looking for a book or a bookstore or even a good magazine to read on the way to lunch and finding nothing, I found myself looking through my Kindle, even though logic would say this was pointless since all the books on there were logically ones I'd already read. Except that I did finally come across one (Compelled to keep looking despite all appearances/logic) that I'd totally forgotten about, a book I'd read the first chapter or two of and then decided I couldn't keep going with it at the time, but still left on there, unfinished. So I ended up reading this random old ebook, and even the chapter I chose to start at was totally random, with my having no memory of where I'd left off (the Kindle had since reset the reading position for some reason) -- and yet, despite all these layers of randomness, it still managed to echo all sorts of things that had happened last night, this morning, and also several small 'in the moment'-type incidents during lunch (such as my coming to 'he was halfway out the door' precisely as a man randomly walked through the double sliding doors directly in front of my table at the market I was eating at, not only echoing the 'out the door' but also the 'halfway,' since the man was going through the first of two doors/halfway out, etc). Again incredibly notable despite its subjectivity/subtly, for all kinds of reasons ..."

* * *

I will again bid the reader to make of this what they will. But, after a triple play like this, I gotta admit: it's hard not to lean toward the obvious conclusion.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Enter the "Thematic"

And still my synchronistic adventures continue to evolve, now with the emergence of yet another sub-type: the "thematic" incident.

This particular species of the phenomenon is defined as follows: a "theme" somehow presents itself in my life experience, often with the same specific elements popping up here and there in some capacity, spanning the course of a day or two in most cases, and always in the most random, yet coherent, of ways. For instance, one morning I might read of something ridiculously strange, rare, or obscure, only to encounter that exact same curiosity in the afternoon, entirely randomly and perhaps in a different form or manifestation, but always discreet enough to be observed as a pronounced repetition, however different in appearance or source or detail. The result is something of a subtle psychic "echo," similar in effect to the echo-type of incident, but differentiated in behavior (and, usually, in the "texture" of the ultimate experience, in a way difficult to convey in writing).

Case in point: one morning I ordered a certain supplement, a pituitary glandular, made from porcine and bovine sources (yeah, the brain-stuff). And then, that afternoon, in a random novel that I'd begun reading just the day before, I came to the description of a monster that fed on the pituitary glands of its victims, which was not announced previously in the text (or on the cover or in the blurb or anywhere else visible to me when I'd purchased this book) -- thus echoing perfectly the underlying theme of "carnivorous consumption of pituitary glands," in a way that could not obviously be explained by any "normal" causation.

I had experienced several of these over the years, to be sure. However, only lately have they become frequent enough, and distinct enough, to deserve their own classification.

This was seen most strikingly, once more, in my reading. More than once now, I've had my current book -- often as random a book as could be, bought and read "blindly," without foreknowledge of the contents or often even the subject matter -- thematically echo my life at the time, in varying ways and with varying accuracy and frequency, but always to the degree of being unmistakably relevant (and damn eerie, in a special way that even the most surreal of my synchronistic experiences can't rival).

Over a period of about a month, these type of incidents began to increase in frequency and distinction, slowly coming into my awareness and establishing themselves as a sub-type. However, it wasn't until a particular book, 'The Guinea Pig Diaries' by A.J. Jacobs, that I saw just how drastic the life-echoing thematics could be.

It started one day when, over the course of a particularly eventful morning, I'd undergone a series of random thoughts, images, experiences, and other specific real-life miscellany -- and then, no more than an hour later while reading the book at lunchtime, I found the text echoing nearly my entire morning, and in a coherent manner, sometimes even using the exact same terms and references. It was, in every sense, like being in a living dream, having my life echoed so explicitly from a piece of literature.

And then, the next day, it happened again.

Same exact deal: after a particularly eventful morning filled with specific, unique, memorable experiences, I sat down to enjoy a quite, uneventful lunch with a good book ... only to find it to once more echo, more or less exactly, my morning, and again even reflecting specific events in similar or identical terms.

And would you believe that, the next day, the pattern repeated itself? The word "trifecta" comes to mind. (And "wow.")

* * *

Indeed, quite surreal. And new, too. But this "thematic" business wasn't finished, nor fully developed.

After that milestone 'Guinea Pig' book, I did come to experience several more stark instances of such activity -- never quite so intense or explicit as that marathon three-day run, though close to it, and always in the same, now-recognizable pattern. However, it was only November 28th, two days ago as of writing, that I was introduced to the latest iteration of the thematic synchronicity, the first that could be described as a noticeable, more mature version of the sub-type.

This one, too, began with a book -- or, rather, my lack of one.

I forgot my book at home, is what happened. Somehow, literally for the first time ever, I walked out the door with absolutely everything I needed for the day ... except for my current read, to be enjoyed over lunch. And, worse, I discovered my blunder only when I had actually sat down and set the table and taken my vitamins and laid out every utensil save for my cherished book -- when I was past the point of no return, as it were. But, resourceful as I am, I went to my one available means of recourse: my phone.

Now, I don't normally read on my phone, as a rule. In fact, I make as little use of my smartphone as possible, leaving it turned off 99% of the time, and for a dozen different reasons. But, hungry for the written word as much as lunch, I made an exception and quickly went online and Googled "free ebook," looking for a book, any book. And, as it were, after tapping through the first page that came up, I had soon downloaded a free HTML copy of the first remotely interesting book to catch my eye: The Metamorphosis, by Kafka (which I'd never read, believe it or not).

Thus outfitted, I finally blessed my food, took a bite, put the phone in airplane mode, and began reading. Not perfect, surely, but it worked.

What's the point of my little tale? Simple: that the book I ended up reading throughout my lunch hour that day was about as ridiculously random and unforeseen as humanly possible, with the development arising from a surprise circumstance unknown even to myself. In other words: there's no way I could've known, even on a deeply subconscious level, that I'd be reading a different book than that I'd had planned, and especially not Metamorphosis in particular.

Need I tell you what happened next?

It was the 'Guinea Pig' book all over again, from the very first page, with Metamorphosis echoing, either essentially or overtly and literally, my morning, which just happened to have been another unique, un-routine adventure filled with abnormal-for-me events -- except, now the thematically-echoing text was from a book that hadn't even been on my radar until seconds earlier. This batch of thematic echoes ranged from vague-but-identifiable (I'd woken up uncharacteristically late that day, throwing off my whole schedule, despite my being a chronic late-morning insomniac, when the Kafka character had woken up uncharacteristically late, throwing off his whole schedule) to the unmistakably explicit (these were, unfortunately, all too complicated or subjective to quote with any degree of coherence, but, nonetheless, were there, and no less head-spinning for their lack of objective notability). And, like previous instances of these thematic-reading sessions, there were more than just a few parallels there, with at least a dozen or so by the time I'd finished lunch.

Living. Dream.

Afterward, I was left feeling that my morning had been gathered up, put in a blender, and poured into this book.

* * *

And need I say that it didn't even stop there, with the thematic-type incidents?

That is, there were other, "normal" kinds of synchronicities that involved my uber-random reading of the Kafka book -- those of the instant, in-the-moment variety, all of them notable in themselves but also upgraded in unlikeliness due to their dependence on my Just Happening to be reading that particular book.

For instance: reading certain passages of the text that coincided, with absolutely perfect timing and accuracy, with fully random and objective events occurring around me, such as coming to "pouring" precisely as someone hit the dispenser on a drink machine and sent out a distinct "water pouring into a cup" noise. Or, similarly, when I caught my head slumping down and straightened it up (after reading on my phone for over an hour), for the first time, precisely as I came to some equally random and singular text that described exactly that (yet couldn't have influenced me subconsciously, with my head-straightening depending on the objective, independent event of my muscles fatiguing at that precise time). Etc. Etc.

I could go on and on, but my fingers hurt (and so does my head, still, from all the spinning it did two days ago when this all happened). Make of it what you will.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The North American Writing Spider

Yep: there's a spider known by this particular name. Never heard of it? Well, you're not alone, because I didn't either, until just recently.

Not until I met the man on the street, as it were.

The meeting occurred on a rather ordinary day: early afternoon, outside a coffee shop along a downtown sidewalk, where I was eating lunch al fresco. Ordinary; and then came this man. The encounter was un-ordinary from the start, because the man greeted me without prelude, suddenly and aimlessly, as if we knew each other ... but we didn't know each other. Still, I remained friendly, and we exchanged some small-talk.

Then, also from out of the blue: I was introduced to the spider.

Again without lead-up or prelude, appropriate to nothing, the man proceeded describe this "North American Writing Spider," along with a vague story about how he'd learned of it (which I don't remember exactly, but, I'm sure, did not involve his being accosted by a random man on the street). From there, the encounter grew even more awkward, palpably so, until I drew on the last of my friendliness reserves and bid the man good day.

With that, we parted ways, back to being pedestrian and diner, the end. However, the man did leave me with one takeaway about that Writing spider: despite its large size and elaborate markings, it was quite harmless (and, actually, performed various good works within the garden ecology, as many spiders do).

Afterward, during the rest of my meal, I was left with the distinct thought: North American Writing Spider ... harmless. And then, consequently, I had another thought: of the spiders my mother is deathly afraid of.

These spiders, which appear in number at a family property every autumn (and grow notoriously large, with menacing yellow stripes), are well known to my mother, who is petrified of them, dramatically so. In fact, the spiders had just come up in a recent conversation with her, a week or so before my strange enlightenment regarding the North American Writing Spider.

I wonder what those spiders are called ...? I thought next.

* * *

At this point, you might see where this is going. And, well, you aren't wrong: the spiders at the family property, the big ugly yellow-striped ones that terrify my mother from a mile away? Yeah: they're North American Writers.

Sniffing all the telltale signs of a synchronistic recurrence, I suspected as much shortly after my categorically bizarre meeting with the man on the street (because these things do happen to me, you know). But, even after consulting the internet for some pictures, I couldn't say for sure until the seasons changed and the spiders made their appearance.

Now, they've appeared. And after a second, in-the-flesh comparison, there's no question of their species.

But no worries, because they are, after all, totally harmless!

If you are the gentleman who so obtusely but kindly shared with me this information about the Writing Spider, I would love to hear your side of the encounter, and why you felt led to approach me and say what you did. And, I think, maybe some other folks might like to know, too ...]

Friday, September 15, 2017

Breaking the Rules (aka, "Another Ask-and-Receive")

Once again: I asked, and I received.

This time, my asking was for sleep. A chronic insomniac since childhood (a condition which has grown progressively worse with age), I was on the road, and very tired after a long drive; by mid-afternoon, the thought of another night of my characteristically broken sleep was unappealing to me -- particularly unappealing, in fact, in a keen way that, in years past, I'd learned to live with. By this point in my life, I'd come to automatically ignore such plaintive desires for normal sleep, as a rule.

That night, however, for the first time in many years, I broke that rule, when I found myself Asking: for sleep. Just a good, simple, lazy night of blackout-drunk, well-baby sleep.

But there was more behind this spontaneous request. Not only was I especially beat, but I was about to cross into a new time zone, therefore "losing" an hour, which would screw up my schedule in various uninteresting ways I won't describe. As it were, it would've been much more convenient for me to sleep late and then "lose" my hour in the morning, rather than in the afternoon -- that is, another circumstance as rare and infrequent as my being so oddly tired that day. Together, the two conspired to see me send up my strange little prayer, despite it meaning a regression in my personal discipline.

Well, you can guess the rest (or, at least, you can if you've read this blog to any extent): that night, I slept.

Though, I didn't just sleep, nor did I have what might be considered, by any measure, a good night's sleep. No: I slept, both deeply and for nearly twelve hours. For me, who is accustomed to maybe 5-6 hours of light, soupy sleep on average (this interrupted by a half-dozen or so wake-ups, from which I might or might not return to sleep, if I'd ever gotten to sleep in the first place) ... it was simply unprecedented (or maybe "orgasmic" is a better description). Upon getting up and seeing the curiously bright sunlight invading my blinds, I was quite literally speechless. Go without something for decades, and its return might well as be for the first time.

And my, what a coincidence: this fluke, inhumanly long night's sleep had Just Happened to coincide with my equally uncommon (and explicit) request.

* * *

There's a footnote to this incident.

I'd taken an herbal sleep-supplement that night, for the first time, after being Compelled to buy it at a random store I'd stopped at that day -- the obvious cause, right? It made perfect sense, as to be the rare, clear logical explanation for this kind of thing ... until I took the stuff again (and several times since), and my miracle sleep did not repeat itself. Likewise, after reviewing that day for anything else I might've done differently (I keep a comprehensive health journal of such minutiae, for just such a reason), I came up with nothing that would logically explain my little windfall.

To be fair, maybe there was some logical, causal factor that brought about my mysterious slumber, and I'm just unaware of it. Then again, taking into account the ridiculously synchronistic nature of my adult life ... maybe not.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ask and Ye Shall Receive ... A Massage

When I saw who would be my massage therapist, it was the ultimate double-take moment.

The short of it: for weeks, I'd been trying to work a therapeutic massage into my schedule, and, also, I'd been trying to get it with a certain, new therapist who works out of the gym I attend -- in fact, I'd been Compelled to book with this particular therapist, in an especially urgent yet wholly baseless and illogical fashion I've come to know well. However, once I finally got the time to get my much-delayed massage, it just didn't work out with that therapist, with my needing to be in another part of town for other obligations.

Therefore, I instead booked with a different outfit, convenient to where I'd be that day. They have a rotation of therapists, and you never know who you'll get; but no worries, because I'd never once gotten a bad massage at this place, whomever the therapist.

So, fast-forward to when I arrived at my appointment -- and was summarily shocked. First: by the sight of the aforementioned therapist I'd been so stubbornly Compelled to book with; she does massages out of this place too, as it turned out (unbeknownst to me, of course). Then, I was soon shocked anew, when it turned out that, not only does this therapist practice where I'd Just Happened to book (over thirty miles from my gym) -- but she Just Happened to be randomly assigned to me upon my making the appointment that morning.

Chance? Not impossible, surely. But, in the context of the dozens upon dozens of similarly unlikely incidents catalogued in this blog ... it didn't feel like chance.

(And, the clincher: the massage I received ended up being exceptionally good, and in a unique, therapeutic fashion that I've never quite experienced with another therapist, when I'd been so illogically Compelled to book with that uniquely therapeutic therapist ...)