Not being a religious man, I do not believe in the hand of gods and goddesses who organize our lives. I do not believe in fate or destiny. I will never say that I was meant to do something, or that some higher power has guided me to where I am. However, once in a while life offers you a strange juxtaposition of events that leaves you smiling at the level of improbability needed to accomplish such a feat. But, always remember: no matter how improbable an event, there is always left a finite level of probability, no matter how small. How did Spock put it? “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”In other words, serendipity is real.
(Technically this first came from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes, but no matter, I’m crediting Spock and you can’t stop me and don’t make me come over there with a stick and beat you).
My wife and I have pretty similar reading tastes. We both like fantasy and science fiction, particularly anything that’s a bit on the more eclectic side. We’ll ditch the high fantasy for a good book like Jonathan Norrell and Mr. Strange, or The Night Circus. Not that we didn’t love Tolkien and the Dragonlance series back when, but we’ve moved on. So she loves recommending books to me she’s enjoyed. Sometimes these are a miss, like in the case of one book she enjoyed that I simply couldn’t get into, but more often than not I end up enjoying them as well.
Last week she recommended Spoonbenders to me (see my previous blog entry for my review). I was finishing Bone and Thunder and decided to give it a whirl, and obviously I loved it. To the point where I wrote that it was the kind of writing I would dream of being able to do myself.
This, in itself, is not the serendipity of the title. This is merely the precursor, the intro, the setup if you will. Or perhaps this was step two in this tale of coincidences most improbable. Step one would be my acceptance into Viable Paradise, also previously blogged about. Without that acceptance, none of this would matter and I wouldn’t have had the astounding moment that I had yesterday.
So there I was, blithely moving through my sick morning and thinking of heading back to bed. Which I did post haste and was comfortably ensconced and resting when my wife got home at noon from her morning of reminding high school students that they wouldn’t have to BE in summer school if they’d merely done the work expected of them the REST of the year. She lay down, too, we read for a bit, then she dozed off. I almost did.
I was browsing Twitter and thinking of sleep when the Viable Paradise twitter feed posted a new message. One of our instructors had to cancel for personal reasons. A shame, I was looking forward to getting to know them and hear their thoughts, and had planned on reading some of their works this summer as well (and still will). Their replacement was announced.
Daryl Gregory. Writer of Spoonbenders. The book I had so recently gushed over.
Now, I did some back of the napkin calculations on the probability/improbability of this happening. Number of books published in the genres we read, over time, taking the square root of pie, eating it, factoring in location, number of instructors, those with awards, the gps location of the event, squared the hypotenuse, got a headache, took some aspirin, and lay down with a cool towel over my head. Once I was drippy, I sat up and returned to my calculations.
Note: I did not put the Vicks Vapor Rub on my feet and pull socks over them while I was sick. This was recommended to me by a family member who will remain nameless, but the thought of having slimy gunk on my tootsies and pulling socks over it was disgusting. But thank you for your love and concern. In the future, let’s stick to heavy medications that produce drunk-like effects and a sense of euphoria in the face of nasal dripping that would swamp a battleship.
The final result: 1.375 x 10-237
That’s a very small number. Almost completely improbable. Really fucking unlikely. Almost totally unbelievable. And yet… it happened. The improbability drive kicked into gear, and the flower pot fell, and there you have it. I’ll have a chance to listen to and pick the brain of an author I only recently learned about, but whose writing I loved.
Serendipity is an odd thing, isn’t it? As Spock said: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”
Which is good for me, because none of what I wrote was logical.