Wednesday, January 6, 2010


On Sunday, I wrote on my blog about the "Grapefruit" incident. Yesterday, just after I boarded the bus home from work while I was talking to one of my fellow bus "buddies", a man on the bus addresses my bus buddy in a conversation guessed it...grapefruit, of all things! The first thought that came to my mind was how weird it was that this man decided to just start talking to this lady that I was just talking to and he wanted to talk about this great grapefruit they had. That random conversation made me consider serendipity and coincidences. Obviously, that would be considered a coincidence.

But, what is serendipity?

Serendipity is defined in Wikipedia as the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated. Some scientific examples of "serendipity" include Isaac Newton's famed apple falling from a tree, led to his musings about the nature of gravitation. The German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz dreamed about Ourobouros, a snake running around and forming a circle, leading to his solution of the closed chemical structure of cyclic compounds, such as benzene. Archimedes' prototypical cry of Eureka when he realised that his body displacing water in the bathtub allowed him to measure the weight:volume (ratio) of any irregular body, such as a gold crown etc.

I think that when people label occurences as serendipity what they are really referring to is synchronicity.

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. To count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance. This could also be called "meaningful coincidences". See the following Wikipedia link for some famous, documented examples of synchronicity:

In my life, I can pinpoint certain circumstances that have "fallen into place" due to synchronicity. For example, in my previous job, I was looking around for a job change. And, while I was perusing online jobs, I came across my current position posted for the company that my sister-in-law works for. I remembered everything she had said about how much she enjoyed working there over the years. So, I called her up immediately and told her about the posting I found. She inquired within and said she'd have to get back to me when she finds out. It was about a month after that when she contacted me to say that the opening had been available. I voila!

But, it isn't just with my career where I've seen synchronicity in action. I've also seen it in my personal life with relationships.

Now if you want to get really deep and philosophical, you could look at synchronicity as divine providence or "divine interaction". Coming from a Protestant background myself (Presbyterian, Calvin, etc.), synchronicity falls perfectly into that category of divine providence. How do you interpret it, though? How do you know if something is divine providence or just your own mind trying to make something of nothing or attaching meaning in an effort to create your own meaning?

Have you experienced synchronicity in your life and how? Please feel free to leave your comments on this blog. I'd really like to hear your stories!

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