“When two or more lines meet at a common point, they are known as intersecting lines. The point at which they cross each other is known as the point of intersection.” — Cuemath
Do you believe in coincidence? Last week while driving north from New York I saw a billboard for Heaven’s Door American whiskey, which was co-created by Bob Dylan. Literally the next song on the radio was Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, which was either algorithm trickery applied to SiriusXM for the benefit of the few drivers listening to that exact channel in that exact spot at that exact time, or more likely, coincidence. It was a notable (to me) moment on an otherwise normal drive.
A few weeks back, while hiking in the White Mountains, I happened to look up at the exact moment the two sons of a close friend were descending from Mount Monroe. I recall seeing them out of the corner of my eye on the summit, but didn’t register that these were two people I knew quite well until I lingered a beat long enough chatting with another hiker to see them at that moment. This was our point of intersection on our individual trips around the sun.
We all have these crossing points in our lives, running into someone we haven’t seen in years at a seemingly random place. We also have the just-misses, where we realize later that we were at the same place as someone else but never saw each other. Do we apply special meaning to one event, and another to the non-event? What do we make of coincidence when we bump into it?
One way we might see it is to look at a trail map. Each trail eventually intersects with several others as it meanders on its way. Perhaps the individual trails bring you to entirely different places, but for that brief moment they’re the very same place on their point of intersection. Another step on either trail and that point is behind you, but if particularly notable we can still recall it for the rest of our hike. Meaning is derived not from the intersection but in what we feel about it in the moment.
Each of us is charting our course through our individual lives, with a definite starting point and an uncertain end point. Our paths intersect at frequent or infrequent moments entirely based on fate. I once knew a married couple who met by chance as the future husband was moving a mattress and rested a beat longer than he might have on the sidewalk. The future wife made a comment and that point of intersection turned into the same path for the two of them. For them, that point of intersection became a starting point. I met that couple exactly once in my lifetime, and I don’t recall their names, only the story and one other thing: They were big Bob Dylan fans and even used one of his songs as their wedding song. I wonder what ever happened to them, but I bet I know what their favorite whiskey is.