Inconsequential Coincidence or Profound Message?

While I was in Colorado, my daughter gave me a Netflix subscription. I watched a couple of movies that were okay, but then I discovered there were 80 episodes of the original Star Trek TV series available. Well, woo hoo for me! Besides being a big fan since I was a kid, it was also another nostalgic opportunity to revisit my past—an obvious theme of my trip.

shown light star trekMy fascination with Star Trek began with reruns in the early 70s. I’d hurry home after school and zip off to space with the crew of the Enterprise. As I watched the shows again, it was very surprising to realize how much of that fictional world we’re now living. I remembered a few of the episodes—no forgetting The Trouble with Tribbles—but not much else. Since I had a month, I made it my mission to watch all 80 episodes. I don’t know why. I never watch that much TV! For some reason though, I did. And I almost made my goal too. However, there were still 7 ½ episodes left when I had to leave. Oh, well…

When I got home, I was checking my DVR to see what had recorded while I’d been gone and noticed there were five episodes of Star Trek. I vaguely recalled running across a show a while back and had apparently set an automatic recorder. Curious to see which ones were there, I was thrilled to find that the first on the list was the one I’d only made it halfway through. Cool! I could finish it!

Then I started looking at the others. And as statistically impossible as it may be, the other four recorded were also ones I hadn’t seen. Now, that’s pretty weird! Since there were still three episodes unaccounted for, I checked what was in the queue to be recorded. Yes, those three episodes—and only those—were there. Seriously weird! Or, as Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating.”

Now, in the whole scheme of things, my seeing all 80 TV shows is totally inconsequential. And maybe it was just a strange fluke that my offhand decision to record whatever Star Trek episodes came along just happened to net me the EXACT and ONLY ones I hadn’t watched on my trip. Maybe it was just a big coincidence. Maybe there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for how I could start my adventure with Netflix in Denver and finish it in Arkansas via Dish Network, precisely in the exact order, uninterrupted and with no extras thrown in. Okay, maybe… But really, how is that even possible?

It’s an uncomfortable question with no comfortable answers. And that’s why we are so eager to just dismiss things we don’t understand as coincidence. It soothes the uneasiness and lets us off the hook for knowing why. It seem easier, but it’s really a trap. And it keeps us stuck in limited thinking and living in a limited reality.

But what if, every time you recognized a coincidence, you stopped and looked deeper? What if you just let the uneasiness be and allowed yourself to feel silly for a minute and wonder “what if?” What would happen then?

Would you begin to see the magic in the mundane? Would you be swept away in awe by the profound messages that reach far beyond the superficiality of the physical experiences that delivered them? Would you too find Divine perfection in something as inconsequential as completing a TV show marathon?

And if you did, can you imagine what else you might discover? What else might be possible?

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“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right.” From Scarlet Begonias, Grateful Dead

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