One of my favourite Seinfeld episodes is 'The Statue'. The character of Elaine Benes and Rava, a surly Finnish writer she is working with, discuss coincidences and whether there is such a thing as a 'big' or 'small' coincidence. "There are degrees of coincidences," Elaine argues.
I always think about that scene whenever something coincidental happens to me. And, like Elaine, I'd like to think that there are degrees of coincidence.
Here's an example of a big coincidence. During the most recent school holidays, I took my bored 12-year-old for an outing to Chapel St, Prahran, incorporating a stop at his favourite electronics store. The store inhabits the ground floor of a beautiful, historical building that I had never really looked at before, despite having driven or walked along Chapel St many times in the past 20 years. I couldn't believe I'd never noticed it. Sometimes, we are so involved in our own worlds, we forget to look up.
My son and I did look up at this magnificent, ornate building and admired the architecture and obvious history. It looked a bit worse-for-wear, but there was a dreamy kind of mystery to it, and we wondered who was lucky enough to live there. We took photos.
The next day, I was at the hairdressers. I picked up a magazine from the pile that had been placed in front of me and flicked through it. And there, magically, coincidentally, was a story about Melbourne artist David Bromley and his wife, designer Yuge Yu, who live and work in that very building. The mystery solved, the history of the building explained, and beautiful photos of the interior accompanied the story. I no longer had to wonder about what it was like inside.
So let's recap. I had never noticed that building before. My son and I marvelled at it. There were probably 100 or so magazines at the salon the next day, but I happened to look at that particular one. I love that.
Even the smallest of coincidences excite me. A friend I met through work, and who I liked from the very first moment I met her, shares my birthday. We still get a bit of a kick out of that.
My favourite coincidence though, happened 22 years ago. I had just started dating my then-boyfriend, now-husband. In the beginning, our relationship was long distance as we lived in different towns. We spoke on the phone a lot and wrote letters in a lovely, old-fashioned way.
One particular night we were apart, I knew he was camping with friends. I had a fantastically vivid dream that same night. A gentle fox appeared in my dream, just looking at me, and I admired his beauty. It was odd, as it did not seem to be a part of the rest of the dream, just an intermission, and I woke with that vision. I couldn't wait to tell my boyfriend about it.
Five hundred kilometres away, around about the same time, a group of twenty-something men sat around a campfire in scrubby bushland, drinking and telling stories. Out of the scrub quietly crept a large fox, cautiously eyeing the group, but coming closer and closer. He just stood there and stared at them. My boyfriend was captivated by the fox, who almost seemed tame.
When we talked on the phone the next day, we were completely floored by our 'big' coincidence. I was convinced that it was a sign that we were soul mates, destined to be together forever.
Coincidence, synchronicity or cosmic connection? Call it whatever. We'll always have our story of the coincidental fox.