Monday, February 1, 2010

Signs from the universe

I can't help it. I look for signs and portents everywhere, even though I know that the patterns I find are most likely inconsequential and random. Humans are exquisitely good at finding patterns, after all.  But I still look.

I make wishes when I blow out birthday candles, when the clock reads 11:11, when I see a shooting star. I ask questions of the universe and look for an answer in the sighs of the trees or overheard conversations. Come on, I know some of you do this too.

Even doing all of this, I know it's silly. I don't let it rule my life; I don't think of myself as a superstitious person. I don't check my horoscope and then hide inside if it says I'm going to have a bad day. I treat it as a game. But sometimes synchronicity is a joy to behold.

I was in a Chinese restaurant the other day, enjoying spicy soup and dumplings. I had a good book. I was happy. Next to me were two men, pouring over their plans for a new interactive game, I assume some kind of multi-player online game. For the most part they were discussing technical details and, while I listened occasionally (it is in my nature) I stuck to my book.

Then one of them said, "I just wish I liked our characters more. We need a better story." My ears perked up. And they went back to the technical details of the game.

As I finished my meal I thought I know a thing or two about story. Maybe I could help. Or would that be too intrusive? I opened my fortune cookie and it read, "An opportunity will be presented to you." Who am I to argue with a fortune cookie?

I leaned over and said, "Excuse me. If you still don't like your characters and story, maybe I can help. I'm a storyteller." I gave them a card. They looked perplexed. I bid them a good day and left, feeling exhilarated and awkward.

That night a good friend showed up unexpectedly with Chinese take out. Far be it from me to look a gift moo shu in the mouth; we ate together, then opened our fortune cookies. Mine read, "You have done an excellent job seizing a recent opportunity." I was stunned. How could this not be a sign?

I wish I could tell you they called the next day and I'm off to a new career as a game writer. That would be the movie-ending to this story. But this isn't a movie, so I have to admit that they haven't phoned. Still, it was a nice example of the universe tossing me a synchronicity bone. I enjoyed it and will keep looking for signs and portents, knowing that, while they not point me on the one true path, they certainly amuse me as I meander on my way.

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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