Monday, May 27, 2013

What Are The Chances?

I'm not sure how many of you have experienced synchronicity, but I can tell you that when it happens, it's quite mind-boggling.  A classic example is that of the famous mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell, who after reading about the praying mantis opened up a window in his 14th floor apartment building located in New York City, only to find…a praying mantis staring at him.

As to if such cases of synchronicity are completely coincidental, or meaningful in a deeper sense, I cannot say.  Perhaps synchronicity is bound to occur, given enough time, within the complex interaction of laws, chance, and probability that blanket the universe…perhaps our very existence is the prime example of synchronicity.  Or perhaps there are unseen forces at work - forces which we may or may not contribute to, but to which we are nevertheless connected and influenced by - forces that shape and guide the trajectory of our lives like a hidden hand arranging life's puzzle pieces.  

I'm going to abandon attempts at explanation, and instead, simply add my recent experience to the annals of synchronicity.

My good friend Omead Afshari, designer extraordinaire and lord of the male belly dance, recently became a teacher at Carver Center for the Arts located in Maryland.  He's in the midst of his first school year, and since September of 2012 has been trying to persuade me to come to his school and speak to some of the students.  Well earlier this month, I decided to drive down to Maryland from New York and pay my friend a visit in his native land.  So of course, I also visited the school and spoke to a few different classrooms.  The students were all awake and attentive, so I must have been doing something right.

The school day came to an end, and as it turned out, a dance performance was scheduled to take place an hour later in the main lobby.  Sounded interesting, so we decided to hang around for it.  After two performances, the dance instructor invited everyone to the dance studio for additional performances.  Omead and I debated whether to abandon ship at that point, given we had an engagement to attend in less than two hours.  But we threw caution to the wind and proceeded to the dance studio, wherein we were handed a program that seemed to suggest there were going to be an additional 15 dance performances taking place.  Now we were seriously considering abandoning ship, but ultimately our interest endured and we continued to stand fast.

At the start of the 2nd to last performance, the dancer walked onto the stage and the music began.  Omead immediately turned to look at me, jaw agape. "Am I hearing what I think I'm hearing" he asked?  Yep.  It was my song "See What I've Become".  This confirmation sent him into a mental tailspin, and he stressed that he had nothing to do with it, and that the students picked their own music for these routines.  Then during the Q&A after the show, he stood up and let the cat out of the bag:  "I'm a teacher here and I just want to say that art has a strange way of connecting people.  In the 2nd to last performance, for example, the person who made that music happens to be a good friend of mine…and he happens to be here right now" [cue American Idol screams and applause].

So to my mathematics and statistics friends, consider this: I drive to Maryland from New York for an impromptu school visit, on a random day of no significance, a day in which there happens to be a dance performance taking place after school, a performance which I happen to choose to attend (despite two separate considerations of leaving), during which one of the performances happens to be done in concert with my song.  What are the chances?  I've never stayed in Maryland prior to this, nor had I ever spoken at a school before, and Omead had no interaction or communication with the dance instructor or dancers (located on the opposite side of the building)…moreover, I'm no Justin Timberlake with respect to popularity; my music is not on the radio, nor is it affiliated with a label or part of a PR machine, and my album sales are so far from platinum they ought to be considered aluminum.  Things get even spookier when you consider the fact that the dance students apparently received their assignment to choreograph and perfect a routine for this show about 2 to 3 weeks beforehand - which is just about when I had called Omead to tell him I would be visiting him in a few weeks.

Be on the lookout friends, for things are in motion.

14 comments:

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    1. Ah, the conspiracy theory...I suppose such a possibility can never truly be ruled out. Perhaps Omead orchestrated this elaborate series of events, and cleverly guided me along the way, and I was none the wiser...of course, this would mean that he needed additional accomplices, such as the dance instructor, both of whom would deserve an Oscar for their acting performances. But it would also mean that Omead coordinated the timing of all these pieces with a precision akin to an Oceans 11 movie...and if you know anything about Omead and his notorious association with timelines (in the way of reliably not meeting them), you know that him pulling off such an operation within a 2 to 3 week period is as likely as you growing a 2nd penis.

      Believe it or not, sometimes things really are what they are.........or are they?

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    2. Not saying this world is all terrible but it seems to be alot of hoop jumping for a friend just to plan that.

      No one would plan something that selfless and make it seem a coincidence. What would his friend Omead benefit from that?

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  2. yea, im hardly convinced with this nonlocal scenario, not to rule it out entirely but i think its a bit more probable to believe that Omead at least uttered your name to the choreographer somewhere throughout the course of time.

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    1. I suppose it's possible that Omead may have uttered my name, even if he doesn't remember doing so. But even if this were the case, it would seem to be irrelevant since the student was not assigned my song, but instead chose it amongst all the songs in the world (how many songs is that?)...and as it turns out, the student dancer informed us that the song was recommended to her by a fellow student, who in turn claimed to have randomly found the song on YouTube. Regardless, lets also not forget that how the student came to choose the song has no connection to how I came to be at the school that day.

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  3. My fucking penis is the size of 2 penis's ....so i guess yes, it is possible that omead tried to impress you with move in order to move up on your bff list ...well done omead

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    1. I think your penis being equal to the size of 2 penises is less likely than me driving to Maryland on a random day and attending a dance performance that happens to be done in concert with my song. I think it's far more likely that someone close to you deliberately lied to you, telling you that your manhood was equal to that of two men, just so that you would feel good about yourself and thus perform better in bed. That shit was planned!!! Hahahaha...

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  4. It´s all an illusion. If you hadn´t gone to that school that day, you probably would have had the same experience some other place, some other time. And now, the fact that you did go to that school has led to a chain of events that will lead you to that other stuff not happening. It´s like meeting the love of your life: if you hadn´t been at that mall at that particular time, you would never have met her. But at the same time, being at that mall at that particular time has prevented you from meeting 10 other potential loves of your life at different times at different places. Or it may just simply be the case that your music is awesome and is played much more widely than you expect

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    1. You could be right, although, I think you're oversimplifying the occurrence with your mall analogy - it's not just that you went to a mall and found your soul mate - it's that you've never been to a mall in your entire life, yet decided to drive to one located 6 hours away from your residence, wherein you not only find your soul mate but it turns out it's your 1st grade crush from childhood…now if that happened, it would be reasonable to ask the question, "is this more than a coincidence?"

      Of course, even in that scenario, it could very well still be a crazy coincidence - but it's definitely going to seem meaningful to you (and your soul mate) beyond that of random chance. Would it nevertheless be an illusion, objectively speaking? Maybe. I do agree with you in principle that one set of occurrences both leads to, and prevents, other sets of circumstances. Moreover, many people have a propensity for creating patterns and projecting meaning where none exists - but that should not be confused with the claim that patterns and meaning never exist. Sometimes patterns and meaning are in fact present.

      I don't know if my experience, or synchronicity in general, is significant in a deep sense or just an illusion. But I do know there are a host of phenomena in a variety of areas and disciplines that we cannot as yet explain, so who knows where the collective investigations of science and inquiry will take us - perhaps in 100 years we will have gleaned the inner workings of synchronicity and found it to be nothing more than a psychological illusion…or perhaps we will have discovered some new force, field, or principle of existence that extends our knowledge of consciousness, mind, and matter beyond it's present state. I'm open to both possibilities.

      Now what mall are you shopping at?

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    2. Hehe, I´m shopping at the Buskerud Storsenter in the far away and distant land of Norway. But will however be visiting your great nation next year to witness a concert by John Williams and The Boston Pops (looking forward to it). I agree; it is hard to know. I guess one just have to choose to believe what one wants to believe, until science, as you say, one day may unveil the secrets. There has been done some interesting experiments on the subject however within the field of quantum physics. One that comes to mind is this: A randomly selected group of people were seated (each in turn) in front of a computer screen that was divided into two different pictures (by a vertical line in the middle of the screen). The screen was dark however, and the pictures were not unveiled until the person had chosen left or right. The pictures were of completely random things (like watering cans and that sort of stuff). And as you might expect, not having any information of what kind of pictures were behind the black screen, the test-subjects chose completely at random, ending up with 50% choosing left and 50% choosing right. Now, they did the whole thing again, with a new group of randomly selected people, only this time they replaced one of the pictures with an erotic one. Turned out that this time, people had a tendency to chose the erotically charged picture over the plain one, even though they did not see what pictures were behind the black screen this time either (nor did they have any information about the nature of the pictures). 53% chose the erotically charged picture while the remaining 47% chose the plain one. This was done with so many people as to proving that there actually was a statistical significance to the outcome (that the 53-47 distribution was not a fluke). The claim that has been made after this experiment is that information can be passed down from the future to the present, affecting the choices that people make. So maybe somehow, if these forces really are at work, things may not be as coincidential as they appear...
      I saw the experiment on TV by the way, so it may be available online

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    3. Very interesting. I was not familiar with that particular experiment, though I am familiar with other statistically significant tests that have been done which do indeed indicate some degree of precognition. A variation of the one you describe is where random subjects are shown a series of pictures, each selected at random by a computer from a large pool of images, with each picture being either calm or violent in nature, while the subjects' electrodermal activity, heart rate, and blood volume in the fingertips are monitored. As it turns out, the subjects consistently experienced small spikes in their physiological responses prior to viewing the violent pictures as compared to the calm pictures, suggesting some form of precognition. This study, along with many others dealing with precognition and other forms of psi phenomena, are covered in great detail by Dean Radin in his book The Conscious Universe. These are rigorous experiments conducted under double blind conditions with strict protocols and controls, and they have been repeated and confirmed over decades by various scientists and facilities….and the meta-analyses that have been calculated in connection with all these findings are remarkable, clearly demonstrating a statistical significance that cannot be ignored. So it's indisputable that there is more than meets the eye, and this may very well apply to some instances of synchronicity. As a side note, it's worth pointing out that while I previously mentioned that many people have a propensity for projecting meaning and patterns where none exist, many people also have the exact opposite propensity for ignoring data and refusing to believe facts that conflict with their worldview and belief system. But as I said, I'm open to all possibilities…

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  5. I had the same experience in London. I was on the bus thinking about a fellow student and how I should ask for some study material. On a whim I changed my course and decided to take the train to central London instead (no idea why, I just got off the bus and took the train, no logic)

    Went into some shops then sat down on a bench somewhere on one of the longest shopping streets in the world: Oxford Street.

    I was there smoking a cigarette, not being bothered to get up and go, so I stayed (listening to Zack Hemsey, of course) and stayed and stayed. Smoked another cigarette, then just as I was about to leave when I thought I'd actually get round to messaging this fellow student I needed files from.I was typing the message, about to press send when someone sat down next to me rummaging through her bag. HOLY CRAP WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!!?

    I never planned on going there, I was on the way to somewhere 10 miles away from where we met. I never planned on staying so long, I never planned on sitting for a cigarette and then staying sat on my ass for about an hour for no reason.

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  6. It's easy to just pick one belief and stay there. Either: reject all that you hear about what can be labeled as "supernatural", or believe everything you hear, without questioning. Like a religion. I choose to stay open, and observe. But it is very demanding, because you say "I don't know", and you open up so many possibilities. It requires you to stay awake. And it is very frustrating when you don't have the answers. One thing I have discovered is this; follow the synchronicitys. It will make things much easier. The book you mentioned, The Conscious Universe, sounds very interesting. I will check it out. By the way, when I am shopping, I usually shop at Oslo City Kjøpesenter. That's about an hour from Buskerud Storsenter, I would guess. A little dissapointed there. The synchronicity could have been a little bit more accurate on that one, I think... :)

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