Incidence and Coincidence

Posted on 09 September 2010

Things occur in our lives each and every day.  Some of these circumstances are happily or gratefully acknowledged and received.  Others are occasions for concern, fear, dread, sorrow, or despair.  Others still have little or no discernable impact on individual consciousness.

Regardless of the emotional charge and intensity of our reaction to life’s occurrences, I am certain of one thing.  They will continue unabated, both the expected and the unexpected, throughout the remainder of our lives, for as John Lennon so aptly observed in his song Beautiful Boy, “life is just what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

And, in life, regardless of how well we plan, there are far too many variables to permit us the degree of control that many of us would wish.  But, is there some kind of subconscious or divinely-wrought plan at work in the lives of each of us?  Or, are the incidents that comprise our lives merely coincidence?

I think that most of us have experienced any number of “happy coincidences” in our lives, occasions such as unexpectedly meeting an old friend or family member hundreds or thousands of miles from home or having a beneficial personal or business relationship blossom from an idle conversation with a stranger.  Many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been the result of mistakes or errors in judgment, like Christopher Columbus stumbling upon the New World while trying to find a shorter trade route to the East Indies.

Are such beneficial occurrences simply a matter of chance, or is there an unseen natural or supernatural force at work guiding our experiences and shaping our lives?  Logic would seem to dictate the former.  If you consider that the population of the United States of America is approximately 300 million, then – statistically speaking – there should be approximately 300 “million to one” chance occurrences nationwide daily.  When viewed from this perspective, the “happy coincidences” we have all experienced may truly be considered chance encounters.  From a purely human perspective, however, intuition tells us that not every such encounter is produced by chance, that there is indeed some overriding guidance or providence that has arranged circumstances to produce a beneficial result.  To believe otherwise denies our very humanity. 

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