Incidence Coincidence

By , January 26, 2011

Any observer of our day-to-day life on the homestead who judged us to be a bit jumpy would be justified in doing so. In our defense, there’s a specific reason: we seem to have more than our share of simultaneous occurrences, or incidence coincidence. (Yes, I know that’s redundant. Let me run with it!) Quite often, two or even three unrelated event will occur at the same time. Our minds connect them all, naturally, and we startle!

Today, as daylight began to fill the living room, I decided to turn off the light over the dining table. Michelle sat in front of her laptop, but hadn’t used it for a bit, so it went to sleep. Her screen went blank at the precise moment I turned the light off, startling her into thinking the power had gone out.

Other times, someone will turn on the radio just as a gust hits the wind generator, making it roar suddenly. The hapless victim will snatch their hand away from the button, not sure if the radio malfunctioned, or if they’ve been somehow electrocuted, or . . . who knows what else?

This kind of thing happens all the time! An amazing number of events occur together, creating odd associations in our minds. Adding to the problem, our cat, Spice’s lightning-fast reflexes make her response to our startling appear simultaneous. A coincidence occurs, someone jumps, startling the others in the room, sending the cat tearing off of someone’s lap. The result: as I say, we’re a bit jumpy!

The uncertainty of the lifestyle adds to this condition. One never knows when a wild animal, from a shrew to a whale, and all sizes in between, might suddenly appear. Cones, branches, even whole trees fall suddenly. Rogues gusts, unusually high waves, and other manifestations of the elements appear without warning. Our off-the-grid power system develops problems with little warning. Visitors are rare, but when they come, they often arrive without warning. We have to be on our toes for myriad reasons, tuned in to what’s happening, ready for sudden changes. In other words, jumpy.

And yet, we’re puzzled by the incidence coincidence, the frequency of unrelated, simultaneous events. With our slower, more deliberate lifestyle, there’s more time for things to happen in their own time, so it’s odd that so many of them happen in the same instant. I guess we’re lucky that our stress levels are lower than most Americans here, or we’d all have heart conditions.

If you’re following Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons with me this year, tonight’s the last quarter moon. Time to read the poem, Neutralities.

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