I’m not particularly superstitious, nor religious in any meaningful way. I’ve dabbled, with mixed results, in a few ‘spiritual’ exercises, and have come away a fairly skeptical agnostic.
(Of course, maybe I didn’t dabble in the right areas. Most of my experience has been with trying to interpret a bunch of dubious stories written way too long ago to make any damned sense to me, or trying to sit quietly and concentrate on ‘nothing’ when all I could really think of is how my nose is itching like hell, and my undies are crawling up my ass. Frankly, I’m not so sure that the path to enlightenment is paved with burning bushes and sweaty wedgies. But that’s just me.
I suppose I was born at the wrong time to have any fun with spirituality. I’m a little too young for popping a handful of ‘shrooms, getting naked and nasty with another handful of my closest friends, passing around the bong, and calling it ‘religious, man’. On the other hand, I’m too old to go dropping hits of E and moshing under the strobe lights for three days and nights until I see ‘the face of God’. Is it any wonder my generation is so fucking bitter?)
Anyway, with all of that said, I do still sometimes think that the universe — or Universe, or God, or Nature, or Allah, or Zeus, or Pinky Tuscadero, if you want… whatever buoys your sloop, dude — is trying to get my attention. It’s always something subtle, like a particularly strong deja vu, or an uncanny coincidence — just a little cosmic tap on the shoulder to make sure I’m listening.
Listening for what, I’ve never quite been able to say. Maybe it’s just a test of the Enlightenment Broadcast System; in the event of real life-changing divine inspiration, the test message will be replaced with a blinding white light and a chorus of heavenly voices. Or maybe it’s telling me that I should run out and buy a lottery ticket, or try to be the nineteenth caller to win those free Blue Man Group tickets. How the hell should I know? If the universe is gonna be so fricking obtuse about it, then what’s the point in sending me an otherwordly IM in the first place?
I’ll give you an example — as you might have guessed, this whole business is on my mind because one of these little ‘pings’ just happened to me today. Here’s how it went down:
The office where I work is in a little complex of buildings. I was on my way back there after lunch, and had stopped in a little convenience store in one of the buildings for a Pepsi. I walked outside, thinking of little besides caffeine and the emails I needed to write, when suddenly the chorus of a song popped into my head. No warning, no trigger that I could remember — if some convoluted train of thought had led me there, it had long ago left the station, bound for parts unknown. All I was left with was the song — Goodbye to You, by Scandal.
Or, more accurately, ‘Scandal, featuring Patty Smyth’, as you may recall. I didn’t, of course, because I had to look the fricking thing up to remember whose song it was. Which is part of the point, really — as far as I know, I haven’t heard the song in ages. I never owned the CD, and couldn’t remember who sang it. I never listen to the radio any more — it’s all CDs and MP3s for me these days, so it’s unlikely that I even accidentally heard the song sometime. And it wasn’t one of my favorites, even back in the day when it was in ‘heavy rotation’ on MTV.
(And that tells you how long ago it came out — back then, MTV actually played videos. Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it, kids?)
So, fine — random song comes bopping into my head. No biggie; my brain’s half mush to begin with. These things are going to happen from time to time. So I kept walking, right past the bar on the right, and the Thai restaurant, and around the corner of the coffeeshop that plays music on a speaker over the front door. It was in between songs when I rounded the corner, but a few steps later, there it was, a blast from the past: Goodbye to You.
I didn’t fully recognize it, at first. I got a couple of steps further, and stopped to listen. I just stood there in the courtyard, with my head tilted back, waiting for the first chorus, so I could be sure. And — see, this is where it gets really weird — while I stood there, a bit shaken and befuddled, two men came walking through the courtyard in my direction. They weren’t together; they were walking maybe eight or ten paces apart, and forking in different directions — the one in front was walking towards my left, maybe to the Thai place I’d passed. The other was strolling to my right, heading towards the restaurant across the courtyard. As far as I could tell, the men hadn’t even seen each other. And yet, there was something striking about the pair:
They looked exactly alike.
Their clothes were different, but their features were near-identical. Both were a bit older, probably in their fifties, with matching beards, bald heads, paunches, and wire-rimmed glasses. Think James Lipton, if he let himself go a little, and then multiply it by two. It was creepy, to say the least. And the spookiest part was, they had no idea — I looked from one, back to the other, and then back to the first again. The nearer one caught my eye, and gave me a strange look.
(And why not? I was standing in the courtyard, going nowhere in particular, flabbergasted by a Patty Smyth song from a half a lifetime ago playing in a coffeeshop behind me, and staring open-mouthed at him, and then away, and then back at him for no good reason that he could possibly know about. I must have looked like a Grade A boobjob at that point.)
But he never looked back to see his mirror image, and they soon disappeared — off on their own individual errands, perhaps never to come so close to meeting again. After a few seconds, I managed to shake my brain back into place, and went on my way, puzzled over the whole incident. What could it mean? Was it a warning of some kind? An alert? A notice, that I should immediately… what? Turn around and go home? Give away all my possessions and move into a cave? Switch to non-dairy milk? What, dammit? What?!
Eh. Screw it. If the universe is gonna beat around the proverbial burning bush that way, then to hell with it. I don’t have time to figure this shit out. I’m gonna take it to mean that I should go home early today, pick up a lottery ticket on the way, and soak in the bathtub with a bottle of tequila until it all makes sense. Or until I don’t care any more, and I think you and I both know which one’s coming first. I may not understand the message, but by Jove, I’ll eat the frigging worm. And if that doesn’t give me visions, then I’ll just wait for the next nudge from Mother Nature to try again. Maybe one of these times, the cryptic bitch will straighten up and make some damned sense.Permalink | 2 Comments