On coincidence, etc.

In my last post I mused about luck and chance and made a sideways reference to coincidence. [See On hand appliqué] Well, two days later I came across this passage in a novel:

“So,” said Attila … “you say it’s a coincidence we have met three times. What if I tell you I don’t believe in coincidences? By which I mean the idea that coincidences are out of the ordinary, coincidences happen far too often to be considered extraordinary. People are always saying it. My, what a coincidence!”

Jean thought about that. She nodded: “True.”

“A statistician will tell you that you are as likely to get a row of zeros on a winning lottery ticket as a row of different numbers. We should be less surprised when life takes an unexpected turn. Life is disorderly. In certain parts of the world, in the absence of plagues and floods it’s easy to mistake mundanity for normality and therefore to react to what seems extraordinary. But what we call coincidences are merely normal events of low probability. There’s another possibility, of course.”

“What’s that?”

“That you have been stalking me.”

“So you see,” said Attila, “we could never have run into each other if you were in a more conventional line of work. It was not a true coincidence, closer really to a statistical likelihood.”

“Of course you’re right. I’m a scientist, I should never have used the word coincidence. There’s less synchronicity and more causality than we often think. Things happen. Sometimes in ways we couldn’t even start to imagine…”

                                                                                                         (p. 61-62)

So, was it a coincidence or just a statistical likelihood that I happened to be reading this novel at the same time as I was musing on the idea of coincidence? And does it matter anyway? What does matter is that this novel Happiness by Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2108) has opened my eyes to many things – from urban wildlife to serious social issues –  and has been a delightful reading experience at the same time.


The travel journal

A few of you said you would like to see the proposed travel journal I wrote about in a previous post [On journaling]. I have since had fun learning how to make signatures (sets of pages) from the London brochures, by stitching them in a special way, and then managing to bind them together between two covers. And that is as far as it’s gone with the construction of the book.

This doesn’t look that exciting, I know, but it is a work in progress and it does open nicely like a proper book. Here follows an inside view.


Here are the handwritten and typed versions of the journal.

The next step will be stick down the carefully typed travel account, transposed from the notes I kept en route, and to decorate the covers, and maybe add a secret pocket or two for the more personal accounts, which I did not transcribe into the typed version.

I will probably only get around to finishing off the travel journal at Sally Scott’s next workshop, where I can get some guidance and inspiration. Time is also a bit of an issue as I am stitching away at various quilts, one for an exhibition and others as entries for the South African National Quilt Festival, Interchange.




4 thoughts on “On coincidence, etc.

  1. Lovely and thought-provoking! Thank you Mariss. Good luck with the quilts and the journaling. I’m totally awed by how MUCH you fit into your day with such grace and good humour.


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