Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Coincidences and Baader-Meinhof

I was ten years old when one weekend my whole family decided to go pay a visit to my elder sister in Penang, so I brought a book along to make the long journey bearable. The main character was a girl whose dreams helped solve a crime. While in the car, suddenly my parents had a discussion where Jalan Travers was mentioned and I found it funny because Travers was also the name of the main character in the book I was reading. But wait, there's more. Once we reached Penang, it so happened that most affordable hotels in Batu Feringghi were fully booked so we had to roam around looking for a reasonably priced hotel with vacancy. We finally found one in a secluded area, and the hotel's name was... Travers Hotel. That was when funny became freaky. Today, it was brought to my attention that this phenomenon goes by the name Baader-Meinhof, where you come across something unusual for the first time and later keep seeing that particular thing over and over again over a short period of time.

I love freaky coincidences, because I don't fully believe in them. As much as I'm driven by the logical aspects of things, I still have enough superstitions to know that some occurrences are just metaphysical. Science has accomplished so much, but there are still a lot of things the brain can't grasp, and when the brain fails, science follows suit. Freaky coincidences are among the places science just can't reach. The best we can do is breaking them down into probabilities and statistics, whence phrases like "You have one in thirty thousand chance of finding your doppelganger."

I'm currently reading Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics. While the book is a magnificently boring piece of shit, I'm still learning a lot about Eastern mysticism, most importantly about how we shouldn't try to understand and explain the universe but instead just agree with it. I'm not even trying to understand coincidences; I just enjoy them.

Last summer I was walking around London with a friend I'd known since primary school who came for a short visit. We were just reminiscing old times when all of a sudden we saw this girl walking in our direction and she looked extremely familiar. Turns out, it was a common friend of ours from primary school who just happened to be in London at the same time. She was studying in Dublin, Ireland and was only in London for the weekend; I just arrived all the way from France that very morning, whereas my other childhood friend had driven down from Aberdeen, Scotland the night before. The fact that the three of us came in from three different countries just to bump into each other in yet another foreign country is just mind boggling. Granted, my encounter with the Aberdeen dude was planned, but the fact that we bumped into a common friend from primary school (that was 13 years back!), in a cosmopolitan city as sprawling as London, is something to ponder upon.

Humanity owes so much to coincidences and serendipity as most inventions and discoveries were unearthed this way. In a world where people are growing dismissive of divine presence, God still finds a way to gently shook us to the core and remind us who's boss. It's... beautiful.

1 comment:

Jumiyatul said...

yep, you're right. Allah SWT is 'the' boss.