My starting point was complete belief in the randomness of chance. How could a rational or reasonable person actually attach some sort of meaning to chance occurrences? While I could not do it myself, I was firmly convinced that there was a statistical model to explain the odds that any particular event would occur and that when matched up against the number of opportunities for that precise thing to happen one could see that “the number” for that event was “up” and so it happened.
It occurs to me that this world view is in part the product of youthfulness, when we think we can know and control everything. It also occurs to me that at a certain age and after enough life experiences with so-called coincidences one comes to the point of paying attention to each of these occasions. There is meaning to be discerned or discovered. Many “coincidences” are not that at all. Rather, they were “meant to happen.”
Another word for this is the Yiddish word “B’shert.” B’shert is a belief that there are events and relationships that are meant by a higher force in the Universe to happen. It usually involves the idea that two people are soul mates and destined to find each other. The modern usage applies the term more broadly to anything that seems to have been destined to happen.
The inevitability or destiny of a love-match is most easily identified by looking back, rather than predicting the future. As nice as it would be to know in advance who is destined to be with whom, I think it is easier to identify those “b’shert” relationships after they happened.
The Actual Dance features the story of how Susan and I met the first time. Well actually, it was the first time we noticed each other. We were just 16 years old and Susan lived in Houston and I lived in El Paso. We both belonged to the same youth groups and traveled to a convention in Texarkana, Texas. We actually eyed each other throughout the convention, though we never spoke. As the bus was leaving to take me home I noticed Susan waving at the bus. I always thought she was waiving at me. Was she?
Susan does remember noticing me, and noticing that I noticed her. What were the odds that three years later she would end up going to college in El Paso to the same college where I was attending, that we would meet, we would date and we would get married?
I do think our relationship is “b’shert” -- we were destined to be with each other. I also think that one of the reasons that happened is so we could be together when we needed each other the most. That is what “The Actual Dance” is really about. Being there for each other when nothing else could be more important.
What are the “coincidences” in your life? Have you met someone that you believe was a destined relationship? People can be in each other’s lives in meaningful ways, apart from romantic unions. Adopted or foster child, a good friend, a business partner? What makes such relationships so special and how do they happen? I used to think it was random or “luck” or created by hard work. Today I believe in B’Shert. What about you?