My high school field hockey team had a really sweet tradition back in the day that wove itself into family lore. Our uniforms came with duffle bags, and when the season ended, the graduating seniors were supposed to leave a note in their bag addressed to whomever might grab it the following year. The note could say anything…Good Luck/Stick Down/Seniors Rule/Go Lions (our mascot)/Whatever. The day after my senior season ended, I wrote my note, slipped it in my bag and turned it in. (I later found out I was the only senior who remembered to write a note that year!)
Fast forward to the following fall, when my mom phoned me at college to let me know that my younger sister (a sophomore) had made the varsity field hockey team. “Great,” I said, eager to hang up and meet my friends at the dining hall. “But wait,” she said, “There’s more!” When the team went to pick uniforms, my sister had to pick last, since she was the youngest member of the team. She dutifully grabbed the lone remaining bag and headed home. That night, as she was unpacking her bag, there was a note inside from yours truly. My mom and sister could hardly believe it! What were the odds of my sister ending up with my old uniform bag, after 20 girls had picked before her?
I thought of this story last week while listening to an episode of This American Life on coincidences. When the show’s producers asked listeners to send in their coincidence stories, they received over 1,300 submissions! Only the best made the cut, and trust me friends, they’re goooood. During these tense, unpredictable times, listening to stories of order and harmony carved out of complete randomness feels like a balm.