Yet another sleepless night. Tonight I am finding myself pondering over the complexity of chance. Coincidence. Some believe that the probability of a certain set of circumstances coming together in a meaningful or tragic way is so low that it simply cannot be considered mere coincidence. Some believe in destiny. Some might say we don’t create our destiny but participate in its unfolding. Others, like Ernest Henley would undermine the power of chance and famously say “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. Albert Einstein said that coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.
I personally don’t believe in divine intervention. I don’t believe in destiny. I believe in randomness. A beautiful mess of constant occurrences in this huge space known as “the present moment”. Right now is happening all across the world and in this enormous collage of “now”, collisions happen. We only find these collisions strange when they are of a certain character which is somehow meaningful to us. We don’t see this wonderful, great big mess off “coincidences” all around us. When you drive your car down the highway with music streaming from the speakers, lost in thought about work or life in general, you don’t realise what an incredible coincidence it is that this specific raindrop hits your windshield and is swiped off by your wiper. You probably couldn’t comprehend, even if you tried, the mathematical complexity and improbability of this occurrence. Despite the unlikeliness of this specific raindrop hitting your windshield you don’t say to yourself “what a coincidence!” in disbelief. It’s filtered away in your brain as unimportant information. Yes, it can be hard to believe in coincidence but I feel it is harder yet to believe in anything else. Let me tell you about a coincidence I experienced a while back, one that seemed very strange to me at the time.
As many of you know, I sometimes have been known immerse myself into the world of SWTOR. I normally play on the Republic faction but one day many months ago I was leveling an assassin through PvP on Imp side. Daytime and midbies as it was, the skill level of the PUG’s I was playing with was not always as high as one might like. I found myself in a particularly bad Voidstar. In the disarray that is midbie PvP in SWTOR there appeared a light in the dark. I had spotted a skilled powertech on my team. After the warzone (which we surprisingly won) was over I whispered Shyala, the powertech, and asked if he wanted to group up. Shyala was happy to do so, he even joined me on TS were he introduced himself as Conrad. He was Swedish just like me. He soon became friends not only with me but others in my guild. As he was the GM of his own PvE guild he could not be convinced to join my guild “ominous latin name” in the start. I eventually got him to cave in and join us on a character (something I counted as a huge personal achievement of my own). We became good friends. One night while talking to a group on TS about where everyone came from me and Conrad realised that not only did we grow up in the same neighborhood just outside of Stockholm, we went to the same primary school for at least two years. He was just a year below me and would have been in the classroom next to mine. We would have run into each other in the halls and in the yard outside during breaks. I would probably have seen him and thought he was childish and immature and he me thinking “eww cooties!”. A few months after that we also discovered that my teacher in year four and five was his mother.
Coincidence? It’s hard to believe in coincidence but I personally feel it is harder yet to believe in anything else. Someone once told me that chance doesn’t necessarily mean meaningless randomness, but historical contingency. What do you think? And have you got any similar stories of meeting people in strange places? Tell us in the comments below!