Saturday, August 16, 2008

Serendipitous Awareness

"I have a theory about new words and ideas. It seems that very often, as soon as I have learned something—a word, an historical figure, a theorem—that it pops up again within weeks, almost like it was lying there just waiting to be noticed. I'll go my whole life without having heard of some Persian philosopher, and the week after I learn about him, he'll be referenced in next week’s New Yorker or quoted on some CD liner notes. The phenomenon badly wants a name, but I am unsure what to call it. It is sort of like reverse déjà vu, with a bit of kismet thrown in. For the time being I call it S.A., for serendipitous awareness."

My friend Mark shared his created terminology several years ago, and it resonated with me as I've often experienced it. Sometimes I think you just recognize the word or belief because you finally understand it or are aware of it, so you just begin to see it more often. This is akin to buying a gray 4-Runner and then noticing gray 4-Runners all the time. But some of the time it feels like God (or the universe or whatever force you believe in) wants you to know something, so the concept or word is being reinforced in your mind so that you won't forget it and will be glad you know it.

used the word "foment" in an e-mail to me, and when I confessed my ignorance of this word he explained the definition, using an example of how the revolutionaries (in a country I cannot recall) met in coffeehouses to foment a revolution--leading to the government banning coffeehouses. A week later I was in J.Crew when a salesman started telling me about a huge paper he had to do on coffee, so I told him about how revolutions (including the American Revolution) were fomented over coffee; and we figured out a great outline for his entire research paper. Prior to learning about "foment," my contribution would have been limited to suggesting large amounts of whip cream.

p.s. I'm grateful for the knock on my door last night to join a group in the park for croquet.


Thomas said...

Don't things like this make life entertaining?

Anonymous said...

Isn't this phenomenon cool? I have noticed the same thing, when I am introduced to something new it always pops up again in the near future, to save my ignorance, thankfully.

TC said...

I want to play croquet in the park.

Mr. Piro said...

My name is Christopher Cambell and I am a Junior at Moody Bible Institute, studying Communication. I am doing something of a research project and was wondering if you would like to participate. The study is of Christian females who blog online. Your name will never be used, but your words may be quoted (as an anonymous surveyor of course) in a paper. If you are interested, please email me your responses to these questions at CHRISTOPHER.N.CAMBELL@MOODY.EDU

1) If someone were to ask you to describe yourself, how would you describe yourself?

2) Is this affected by your affiliation with Christianity? If so, how?

3) What is the purpose of your blogging online?

4) Do you believe the purpose is consistently accomplished?

I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you and have a nice day,
Christopher Cambell

Anonymous said...

Other than being a world renown psychologist I am also somewhat of an expert criminologist and believe I would pass on the above request which may or may not be legit.

Pam said...

How interesting the timing of that. I'm sure the salesman was ever so grateful for your help.

Croquet in the park sounds like lots of fun! I've not played that it YEARS!

Mr. Piro said...

To anonymous:

I am just trying to do a survey. I'm not asking for any personal info. There are ways to send an email to someone that blocks the address where it came too, so the answers can be submitted COMPLETELY anonymously. If the person wants to participate and is concerned about privacy/anonymity then I encourage them to go that route. I'm not trying to do anything shady here, just trying to gather data.

ella said...

Croquet? Sounds like fun! Is there a dress code?

AA said...

Was a date arranged with Mr. J.Crew? :P

Jeff Price said...

That's such a great phrase - serendipitous awareness, as long as we can link it to God's sovereignty ;-)

We had that happen to us in Charleston. Three separate people used the term brackish water....never heard it before in my life and after those conversations I felt like an expert on the subject!

Lib said...

gosh, i'm glad i finally have a term to use for this. "serendipitous awareness." nice. this happens to me all the time as well so know i'll actually know what to call it!

jennifer said...

I love this phenomenon and your name for it. It happens to me all the time. I think you commented when I blogged about it awhile ago.

Jenn said...

I love the term serendipitious awareness. I can say that now and sound intelligent rather than, dude, whoa, that's like uh wow, cause uh - next time something like that happens. (o:

Ally said...

Thomas: Absolutely.

Ella: Ha. No dress code. I think you'd like it. I don't have the attention span for it.

AA: No, he was in college! And likely not straight.

Jenn: It does sound much smarter:)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the salesman was happy to have you help him out on his paper! Was he cute?

P.S. Thanks for the new terminology. I'm now two words smarter, hey! :)