Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The "Nearby Stranger" Synchronicity

Imagine this, if you will:
You are in a restaurant, alone, immersed in a book as you tend your meal. Seated one table over, two fellow patrons sit in deep, passionate conversation, which you can't help but overhear as you read. Then, suddenly: you come to a random word in the text, totally at random -- at the exact moment that one of your next-door neighbors speak that same word, as randomly, yet with a perfect, seamless timing. There's no hint of complicity on the peoples' part, with the echoed word being a simple, natural part of their conversation, completely relevant to its flow and subject matter. What's more, the people are fully oblivious to you and your book; they are, in fact, both facing away from you, such that it's physically impossible for them to see what you're reading, in any case.

You blink, struck by the echo. Did you really just hear that? You give pause ... then return to your reading. Just a coincidence.
However, moments later, it happens again. Different word, but as randomly, and with that same impossibly precise timing.

Then, before you've sufficiently convinced yourself of the last one's insignificance, a third echo occurs -- and this time it's two words, and these more specific, obscure, rarer, not heard in everyday language. And with that same, synchronous overlap.
Now, take that scenario and multiply it, so that the theoretical strangers' conversation repeatedly echoes the exact words and phrases you encounter in your reading, five, six, seven times -- a dozen, and now reflecting even more nuanced qualities, such as words and objects in the exact same contexts and usage, and thematic, non-literal (but no less explicit) parallels, and profounder details still. Over the course of the couple's thirty-minute discussion, there are so many hits, and with such identical, patternistic behavior, the chances of simple coincidence grow astronomically high. With each new repetition, it gets harder and harder to reasonably consider any notion of a purely "rational" explanation.

That's the "nearby stranger" type of synchronicity I speak of, and it is one I have experienced, to date, several dozen times.

* * *

This category of the phenomenon speaks for itself, even within the scatterbrained writing of my personal incident log. So, rather than explain further, I'll let the entries doing the talking, verbatim, through several choice instances that exemplify the various intricacies and sub-types of this particular animal, taken at random from 2016:

"[It started with me] holding up an 'XL' tank top at the thrift store and determining that it was a child's extra-large (it was very small, no way it would fit me) precisely as a nearby stranger said to her child, 'It's for little people'"


"Precisely as I reached for the butter container holding my lunch, a nearby stranger said 'margarine,' in perfectly synchronistic fashion. Interestingly, I'd thought the container was for margarine instead of butter"


"A cool one at lunch, another of those 'nearby stranger echoing my book' ones, today a lady at the Hot Springs coffee shop saying 'old age' precisely as I read 'eighty-year-olds' in the "Sunburned Country" book -- another of those precisely imprecise ones, with the same underlying archetype of 'old,' etc, and again fitting that same pattern of the person being engaged in conversation with another stranger and being unable to even see my book, etc, etc."


"[...] right as I read 'cries of delight,' a random car passed with a child calling out the window, making a high, loud, cheerful noise that can only be described as a 'cry of delight.' Wow."


"Also, a cool and somewhat unique 'nearby strangers talking'-type one at lunch. While I was reading about general music stuff and specifically how Jerry Garcia had to be taught to play music again, two people at a nearby table were undergoing a job interview where a guy was getting a job as a musical instructor as some kind, with their conversation echoing what I was reading in the book but only in vague and subtle ways, as to only really be notable when taken into account collectively, rather than those more explicit ones like before. The most explicit/synchronous it got in this regard was when the man at the table said 'Nashville' precisely as I read 'country and western' in the book (and, it bears mentioning, the man was referring to Nashville in the same musical context as the book)."


"[...] And then, at Dr. Scaffidi's office, a really cool and striking one where precisely as I turned a page in a random magazine and revealed 'TRACK' written in big letters on the fresh page, Dr. Scaffidi said 'track' to his patient, when both were in the other room and entirely out of view of me, etc [...]"


"Precisely as I read 'See that?' in the 'Zeitoun' book, a nearby woman said 'No, haven't seen that part' -- not 100% precise literally, yet was in essence, and also sort of like that thought/reading one from yesterday with the house, in a 'question and answer' format"
And so on and so forth. Again, I'll avoid overstatement, and end the post here. Make of it what you will.

(For the curious, there's plenty more incidents where those came from, beginning before August of '16 and running right up to the present. Read 'em at the log.)

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