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.