Friday, 14 September 2012

Proof That There Is A Dog

I'm a big fan of coincidence. Coincidence implies that there might be some interconnectedness to the universe. It doesn't imply there's any meaning, of course. That would be silly. But sometimes coincidence can wrap around you and surprise you and take your breath away.

Some coincidences can be easily explained. You see a word you never heard of before: suddenly that word is everywhere. All that's happened, of course, is that you have become attuned to seeing that word. It was always there, you just weren't seeing it.

Other coincidences are visual. Again, given the limitless permutations of reality it's hardly surprising these things can happen. A little more surprising is that somewhere is there to take the photograph, but even so, as I firmly believe, anything is possible given time. So whilst these are coincidences, they can be easily explained away.

With other coincidences, there isn't an easy explanation. Here's something that happened recently: at home we have a way of reading our massive collection of books whereby there is a numbered list on the PC and when one book is read another number is selected at random. The other day I picked a number for Sophie and as a result she began reading E M Forster's "A Room With A View". So far, so good.

The following day I happened to be browsing Smashwords after seeing that someone I knew had uploaded a book they had written to the site. Whilst I was there I searched for crime novels - not to buy anything, but because I've written a couple and I've been looking for publishers. I bookmarked one crime e-book publisher to check out once I've exhausted the print options, but then happened to see the name Craig Forgrave. The name rang a bell with me. But I couldn't place it. I clicked on his profile and the picture also seemed familiar, but again I couldn't pinpoint why. It was quite a distinctive photo.

Anyway, I forgot all about it. Later the same day Sophie told me she was giving up on the E M Forster book. It just wasn't grabbing her. Fair enough. I took the book off her hands and went downstairs where I placed it back on the shelves. Our books are all shelved author alphabetical, and - you've guessed it by now - I slotted it back into it's position immediately to the right of this book:

Let's just examine what had to happen for this coincidence to occur. Of course, I could start with every event since my birth (and indeed, before it), but perhaps the obvious place to start would be the publication of my 2004 novel Moon Beaver by ENC Press. ENC Press also published Devil Jazz, which is why I have this - probably obscure - book on my shelf. Next, let's fast forward to Sophie moving in last year and deciding to put all our books in alphabetical order. Then let's remember that E M Forster's "A Room With A View" was chosen from a list of around 350 books at random. I'll remind you that the following day I came across Craig's name on a site I have never previously visited. Then, perhaps most importantly, the fact that Sophie gave up on reading "A Room With A View" and so I had to replace it next to the Forgrave on the same day. That's some coincidence!

Then I get to wondering, maybe it isn't a coincidence. Maybe I've created the world that I live within and therefore there are only a finite number of possibilities for events to happen - those that are limited within the extent of my imagination. I've written a short story recently - "The Aniseed Gumball Kid" - where the main character muses in a similar vein; for example, why does every office always contain the same mix of similar looking people with similar interests? And in my novel, "And God Created Zombies", the main protagonist is thrust directly into a world which he seems to have the key to.

Ultimately, whenever a cool coincidence occurs I think to myself: 'maybe this proves there is a dog after all'. I'm not religious in any sense to believe there might be a god. But a dog, well, that could just about be possible.

Meantime, let's embrace coincidence. That usually happy set of circumstances which make life worth living for the sheer joy of happenstance.

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