Karma, Omen or Coincidence

Karma, Omen or coincidence?

I have heard it said that the human brain is merely a fancy, souped up pattern recognition machine. 

Possibly, but I just can’t see the connection myself.

Anyway, here’s a pattern for you. Last year in May I attended the Storymakers writers conference. That year as this year one of my novels (Dawn’s Reach, last year and Prospector’s Choice this year) was among the five finalists for the Whitney award. Last year as this year, I did not win the Whitney (among the competition this year was Brandon Sanderson yes, that Brandon Sanderson—the $41 million man. I feel like in the face of that fact, I should be treated as if I had won, because, really. I couldn’t generate any traction for that idea, however.) Last year as this year, I returned from the conference pumped to put more effort into writing and marketing my books. Last year as this year I had trained for a half marathon to run with my son in the first week in June. Last year as this, we planned on planting our garden right after Storymakers.

And last year as this year I have contracted COVID-19.

Today, Fifty-one weeks to the day from my first diagnosis, I received my second. How’s that for a pattern?

As pattern recognition machines, we humans rack our brains to imbue meaning in things that happen to us. Many years ago, in connection with discussing a book in our book club, the topic turned to omens (I can’t recall why or what the book was). One of the participants said she absolutely believed in omens and recounted discussing a business venture with her husband while driving around. She remembered saying “For two cents I’d go for it.” At that moment the car went around a corner and loose change fell into her lap. She went on to engage in that successful business venture. As I recall, a number of other participants recounted similar experiences from their lives. So, is this an omen? Should I stop attending Storymakers? Should I stop planning on running half marathons in June? Should I stop planting gardens? Should I stop writing?

Another possibility is Karma. This is the idea according to Wikipedia that our present actions affect our future state which means of course that our present state has been affected by our past actions. Bad things happening to us might mean we have acted poorly in the past. Did I offend the COVID Gods in the past and am being punished for that offense? The thing about the Karma interpretation is that I’d have to discern my past bad behavior so I could change it to avoid future ills. Hmm. I can’t figure that one out.

How about coincidence? No meaning attaches to my being sick at all. It’s just the random working of quantum probabilities. The wave function just happened to collapse that way. It’s tough being human. Coincidence is also, someone said, God’s way of remaining anonymous. So, we’re back to the omen discussion. Is God sending me a message to stop attending Storymakers, etc?

I’m most attracted to coincidence explanation, the one that views it as random workings of fate because I can’t separate the signal from the noise. If I’m being sent a message, I’ll need a few more data points.

Still, Fifty-one weeks to the day. That just cries out for an explanation, doesn’t it?

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