I remember hearing an episode of This American Life in which the theme was coincidences. Apparently the degree to which an occurrence is a genuine coincidence depends mostly upon who it happens to. If your grandmother tells you she ran into an old friend downtown, that seems less than amazing. To you. But if you are the grandma, and you never go downtown, and you haven’t seen that friend for 40 years, et cetera–then it may feel like an amazing coincidence.
Yesterday my husband told me a little anecdote that I couldn’t even wrap my head around at first. I actually made him repeat it. It blew my mind. I told myself that I was going to write about it as soon as I finished this big project I was working on. (These are the sorts of carrots that move me forward.)
Dave received an email from a man who had read one of Mark Peattie’s books on Japanese military history, Sunburst, and loved it so much that he wanted to contact the author. After a Google search revealed that Mark died a few years ago, he set upon locating his next of kin and discovered Dave, who is his son (and my husband). He emailed Dave that he’d obtained a used copy of the book and happened to mention the inscription: “To my good friend, Bob Grove.”
Bob Grove was my dad. He died twelve years ago and probably only met Mark once. I never knew that Mark had given Dad that book, although it makes sense, considering my father loved reading history of all sorts.
So where exactly lies the coincidence? I’m not even sure. Probably the most amazing part of the story is that this reader out in the world was so earnest in his search to connect with the author of a book that he truly appreciated and that he was willing to spend some time to achieve that goal.
So perhaps this small-world story seems rather pedestrian to anyone but me.
But it still blows my mind.