Sample Chapter: The Connection Collection

There’s a chance that I’m insane. Perhaps what I’m experiencing is just the product of a mind that could be moments away from a complete and total core meltdown. Maybe the encouraging support I’m getting from friends and family are just facades behind which they’re hiding—from me.

“Yes, Rodney. Oh, of course coincidences are everywhere,” people may be saying to my face. And then, when I leave the room or hang up my phone, they turn to each other and suggest that I really need a “good rest.” But let’s, for a moment, assume that I’m fairly rational and agree that what I’m about to write is the product of a brain engaged in the real world.

Coincidences rule my life. Or, more succinctly, I try to watch for things that normal people call coincidences and I attempt to bend my daily existence to accommodate what they’re trying to tell me. Now, stick with me for a while. I have a feeling that you’ll slowly become a convert to my way of thinking. Besides, I could always use some company in a “good rest.”

Every day now, ever since I started paying attention, I have noticed things occurring together that, upon external examination, would appear to be just coincidental. If you witnessed one of these events, you would probably come to the same conclusion. If you just walked into my life and experienced one of these little events, you’d be hard-pressed to wrap any meaning around it.

But understand that every day at least one minor connection occurs and I am continuously reminded, as Sting says, that there’s more to this journey than is apparent to the eye. Perhaps I’m reading a phrase on the computer when, across the newspaper office from me, somebody says that same phrase loud enough so that I can hear. No, I’m not referring to words like “deadline” or “page one” or anything that you’d normally hear in a newspaper office. I’m referring to words and phrases like “grocery” or “conspiracy” or even “that’s a great idea!”

My buddy Chris, who used to sit across from me, was particularly adept at these convergences. Once, while he was talking on the phone to his wife about picking up some stuff at the store, another nearby conversation in the newsroom about an upcoming story was going on at the same time. In both conversations, they came to the word “grocery” simultaneously.

A day or so earlier, Chris said the word “conspiracy” just as that same woman nearby said “conspiracy” on her cell phone. I would have suspected a conspiracy between those two if I didn’t know better. (Okay, just now I wrote “cell phone” at the exact time my mom and wife said “cell phone” out in the other room. I told my wife this and she said, “Okay,” just as I started the previous sentence with “Okay.”) It’s almost as if you have to swat these things off like gnats when you start noticing them.

These strange things become commonplace. I’ve stopped noting them because they happen so darn frequently that it has actually become boring to me. Think of that for a moment. If something miraculous happens so often that it falls into the realm of the “mundane,” then you know things must be pretty amazing in other facets of your life.

Recently, though, I’ve been wondering how frequently big and little occurrences happened simultaneously in my daily life, so I bought a book when I was on vacation with my in-laws down in North Carolina. I bought a really nice pen, too, to document all these occasions in my brand-new book. What good is a cool journal if all you have to record your thoughts is a Bic?

It didn’t take long before the recycled-paper pages of my blue journal with the Buddhist figure on the cover started to fill with scrawlings. In fact, I was shocked when I had covered every page of the book in less than six months. And I wasn’t being diligent in recording everything that happened, either.

I dubbed the book my “Connection Collection,” because I like catchy titles and have always had fun with words. Seeing what things occurred and what coincidences I remembered from my early years was fascinating. More importantly, as I started to notice them and record them, they started happening to me faster and faster. That same phenomenon has occurred to other people, too.

If others are experiencing it, then there has to be something behind it. If it isn’t just me—but friends, family and people I don’t even know—then I must be on to something. Heck, I discovered that this guy named SQuire Rushnell (yes, the “Q” is capitalized) wrote a book about coincidences, too, called When God Winks. This guy is a former network executive and I’ve even seen him on television speaking about his theories.

Just now, right at this very moment, an acorn fell from one of the trees blowing above me and hit my laptop with a gentle thwok. If I had any clue what that meant or why that just happened, I’d be certain to include it here. But the meaning escapes me, if there was any meaning at all. So that’s not the type of thing I’m referring to. If that acorn just now hit me on the head when I said I was trying to get to the nut of the problem, then we’d talk. Or if it bounced on the “A” key, perhaps we could consider that a bit of a coincidence. But no, I’m not out there looking for meaning in everything; I’m just trying not to ignore it when it comes looking for me.

Here’s a final tidbit on which to chew: Recently, I was watching a Tigers game on TV when I got a call from a telephone survey firm, asking for a few minutes of my time. Since everyone seems to hate telemarketers, I figured this guy didn’t need yet another hang-up. I listened and answered semi-attentively to his survey questions, and soon it became obvious he was working for a financial institution, trying to find out if people recognized their ad campaign. Half-listening to his questions, I tried to keep track of the game. But then I had to catch myself and make sure I wasn’t dreaming when the next question popped out. He asked, “Which bank do you associate with the phrase, ‘We listen, we understand, we make it work?’” At that exact moment, at that precise nanosecond, the announcer on TV was saying “This game was brought to you by Comerica Bank, ‘We listen, we understand, we make it work.’” Now, I don’t mean they were separated by a second or two. No, they both said the same phrase at the exact same time—the announcer on TV and the oblivious telephone survey kid based in Dubai or Duluth.

I answered his question and noted that they said the same thing at the same time. I don’t know if he believed me, but hopefully he made a note of it in his survey. So now I’ve decided that that’s my new watch phrase until I come upon something else: “We listen, we understand, we make it work.”

So what if it was coined by a Madison Avenue ad firm? I take my inspiration where I find it. Besides, who’s to say the cosmos itself didn’t bend down on a slow afternoon in mid-town Manhattan, and slide that little phrase into the ear of a copywriter in a 54th-floor advertising agency?

What if these aren’t coincidences at all?

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