Thursday, May 5, 2016

Life's Imponderables


Dear George, 
I tend to be pretty rigid in my thinking, and my brother Peter often encouraged me to be more open to the mysteries of the universe.  From an early age, Peter was interested in ESP and the paranormal and was drawn to esoteric belief systems like Zoroastrianism.  He especially liked puzzling about events in his own and his family’s lives that bordered on the mystical  

Some years ago Peter passed away prematurely from a heart condition.  Distraught when I received the news, I got in my car and drove across the river to the thrift shop in Newport, Kentucky.  I thought if I bought a red T-shirt it might provide a bit of solace.  There were at least three dozen red T-shirts on the rack, and I reached for the one whose hue stood out from the rest.  I was pleased to find it was my size.  But when I looked at the logo, I gasped and held my breath.  The logo said, “Si Como No, Costa Rica.”  Our last big family trip had been to Costa Rica, and Peter was the only family member to stay at Si Como No, the area’s finest resort hotel.  He had wanted a wall safe in which to store his expensive camera gear, and they gave Peter the same suite in which Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise had recently spent their honeymoon.  I was astonished at the coincidence.  What are the odds of finding a Si Como No T-shirt in a Newport thrift shop on the very day that Peter had passed away?  And the very first shirt I had picked from the rack?  Perhaps a trillion to one.  Very eerie…I couldn’t help but wonder if this were some kind of message from the beyond. 

Lately I haven’t been thinking much about mystical happenings because I’ve been preoccupied with my Fitbit.  It takes a lot of mental energy to organize one’s life in terms of numbers of steps and floors climbed.  Actually, though, my Fitbit itself was the object of a recent strange, improbable experience.  It started when I noticed that the Fitbit’s black rubber wristband was starting to peel away.  I solved the problem temporarily by winding an inch-wide strip of silver duct tape around the wristband.  The duct tape, a miracle as always, did a perfect job of holding the wristband in place.  I wasn’t happy with the color contrast though.  The silver stood out too much against the jet black wristband.  Then it dawned on me that I could use black electrician’s tape to cover up the silver tape.  I looked for electrician’s tape on our neighborhood pharmacy’s one-dollar shelf, but there wasn’t any.  I came back the next day, but it still wasn’t there.  I thought about going to the hardware store across the street, but I knew that a roll of electrician’s tape there would cost at least three dollars, and I didn’t want to spend that much.  I decided to make electrician’s tape my top priority on thrift shop and yard sale excursions. 

A few days later I stopped by Donna’s house to take her thirteen-year-old sheepdog Sophie for a walk.  Donna is recuperating from foot surgery, and I’ve been trying to walk Sophie regularly to keep her fit.  We always follow the same route — three blocks east, three blocks south, three blocks west, three blocks north.  This time, though, I decided to depart from our regular pattern and took a shortcut down a side street that I’d never walked on before.  We had gone about thirty yards when I noticed an electrician’s truck parked in front of a house with a guy putting his toolbox in the back of the truck.  As I passed by, I glanced down and saw a roll of black electrician’s tape lying on the sidewalk.  The guy had his back to me, and I quickly reached down, scooped it up, and continued on my way.  I hurried home to put the black electrician’s tape on my Fitbit wristband.  It looked great.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  

Afterwards I started thinking of the likelihood of my finding the very item I was looking for on the sidewalk.  It only happened because I chose to walk on a street I never walk on, the electrician was out on the sidewalk at that moment, he happened to drop his roll of tape, and nobody else had come along to pick it up. How is this even possible?  Had I entered some kind of alternate reality?  I’m certain I could spend the entire rest of my life wandering the streets of Cincinnati and never again find a roll of black electrician’s tape on the sidewalk.  If Peter were here, he would simply smile and give me a knowing look.  Is this what they mean by Kismet?  It gives one pause…  


  1. I love when things like this happen. Now, a scientist would say that we determine the significance of everything, so we think it's significant if we dream of our grandmother the night she dies. But we don't attribute significance to all the other times we dream of our grandmother. So we artificially raise the one incident to almost mystical status. In your story I was impressed that both incidents benefited you. I once found a dime on the ground in each of 3 counties on the same day. Though this made me 30 cents richer, it didn't seem to have a greater meaning, but I still think about it. p.s. I would have felt guilty about taking the tape.

  2. I agree about attributing significance. I think I was too thrilled about kismet to entertain guilt.