I have a weird relationship with the number 719. It is the numerical notation of my birthday (July 19) and last year it started popping up in unexpected places. I see it on TV and in phone numbers of people I know. Strangest of all was when I got a power of 7.19 as an answer on two separate physics tests. Getting my own birthday as an answer seemed too outlandish to be true, so I rechecked my work and discovered – both times – that I’d messed up and went back and fixed my errors. I thought that was pretty amazing.
That was when I began pondering the nature of the coincidence, and it has been on my mind ever since. What is a coincidence, really? Is it some bizarre blip in the random course of time, just an accident of chance? Was it written in a cosmic script a bazillion years ago, unalterable and predestined? Maybe it is a little egotistical to think that my 719 occurrences are among the greatest coincidences in human history, but there are some huge coincidences that can’t be ignored, and not just the fact that you know someone whose brother’s babysitter knew my friend’s niece thirty years ago. What most intrigues me is not what possibly caused a coincidence; it’s what a coincidence possibly means.
Think about it; there are pyramids in Egypt and ones thousands of years younger in South America, an ocean away. Coincidence? Maybe. But how many cultures formulated a polytheistic religious system of mythic gods, or utilized the bow and arrow, all totally independent of one another? There is this bond there, a bond comprising all these little similarities of culture and thought and tendency. I believe in this common bond of humanity that manifests itself in ways that are so subtle, yet so powerful.
How is it that same fraction can be used to describe leaves on a plant, oscillations in the stock market, and the spiral shape of our galaxy? What about the striking likenesses in equations for things as different as gravitational and electrical forces? Coincidences? Maybe. Some people say coincidence and some point to divinity for an explanation. But either way, it’s brilliant! I sometimes find myself just marveling at the ingenuity of it all, the elegance of such precision in the tapestry of the universe. We find the order of the coincidence tying together what appears at first to be endless chaos. Since the human race resides here in the midst of everything, the mysterious web of coincidence applies directly to us, keeping us bonded together in our awe.
To me, 719 represents one small bizarre irony in an infinitely bizarre and ironic universe. It reminds me of all those other coincidences that bring people together from the ends of the earth and throughout the history of humanity. It reminds me that we are all connected, that we share this common reality, this human experience. This, I believe.
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