Anatomy Of A Coincidence

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This is a story of a coincidence I experienced on March 26, 2015.

Early in the morning of that day, right before waking fully, I had what is known as a “hypnogogic” dream. It was a lot more vivid than an ordinary dream, and it almost felt as if I was really awake. In this dream, I heard a male voice plainly say: “there will be an explosion in New York City today.”

I was very concerned about this dream when I woke up shortly after; I gripped my husband’s arm in bed and told him of it. Though I telecommuted half the week, I was indeed scheduled in be in the City that day for a meeting. He assured me I had nothing to worry about, as it was just a dream, and so I went to my meeting. Ending at around lunchtime, I had a relieved trip back to my home; looking at the buildings of Canal Street at my train sped by, I sighed and smiled. No “explosion” took place.

When I got home, my husband was sitting in the living room couch waiting for me, laptop by his side. He looked grim. He asked me,

“Have you seen the news yet?”

Because apparently, an explosion did happen in the city that day, perhaps around the very same time I sighed in relief on my way home.

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A freak accident in a sushi restaurant, which killed two people, injured many more and ended up destroying a good portion of the storefronts on that side of the block. The cause was attributed to an illegal tap into a gas main.

And so here was my coincidence: on the same day I heard a dream-voice tell me that there was going to be an explosion in the city, there was an explosion in the city.

But I could not hop to conclusions. For, as we know, that is the way straight to Chapel Perilous territory.

First of all, it could have been a genuine bonafide coincidence that the content of the dream would have “matched” the situation that followed. There is nothing to invalidate that possibility. I’ve had both regular and hypnogogic dreams featuring scenarios that did not come true the next day, or a week later, or ever.

So it could have been that it was just a random combination of the dream and the real-world event—one that nonetheless I attached importance and meaning to, because it felt “weird.”

Second, it is possible that the dream absolutely was referencing the real-world event. But if that was the case…then what was the nature of said strange occurrence? And, more importantly: what was the point?

Was the voice in the dream “God?” If so, what was the nature of this god, and its motivation? Because if it was truly a benevolent deity, shouldn’t this warning have been given to people who were genuinely in the position to prevent the disaster?  What the hell could I have done? Why “tell” me?

And here, I cannot help but think of John Keel, of Mothman Prophecies fame, and the messages of doom he received in 1967 leading up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Ohio. To even begin to recount Keel’s story would take a separate post, but for right now I’m again simply asking: why? What good did these messages do if he couldn’t prevent the tragedies?

Of note, Keel concluded that such experiences could very well lead to Chapel Perilous—to assumptions, false beliefs, and even manipulation by other people (or entities). He said, “Belief is the enemy.” One could easily become obsessed by the entire incident.

And so: perhaps it is better to take a more psychoanalytic approach.

What did the dream/event intersection mean to me personally? As G. K. Chesterson said, “Coincidences are spiritual puns.”

Well, the restaurant in which the explosion took place, Sushi Park, was one I actually visited a lot in my 20s. I only have fond memories of it. Most of the other places I used the frequent in that area are long gone—and so this felt like that last bit literally being destroyed.

Sarah Larson remembers the block—and one of its most famous tenants—in her The New Yorker post “The East Village Fire: Love Saves The Day”:

One of the losses yesterday made an earlier loss more final: that of Love Saves the Day, an ur-East Village establishment whose closing, in 2009, made way for Ramen & Robatayaki. Love Saves the Day, your one-stop vintage shop and pop-style kitsch mart, was the place to buy things like a bust of Pee-wee Herman, or to relive your favorite scenes from “Desperately Seeking Susan”—it was where Madonna swapped her pyramid jacket for rhinestone boots in that movie, and consequently, for some of us, it was the kind of place you’d shop at when you grew up and moved to New York. After it closed on Second Avenue, it moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania, and sometimes you’d see a funky van with “Love Saves the Day” painted on it parked in the neighborhood. Its departure felt meaningful, like the end of an era, and now its building is gone.

On a slightly more esoteric note, if I move further back that day, there was the fact that a very weird-looking temporary art installation was standing right in front of the building where I had my meeting:

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It was a tall owl. I don’t know why, but I snapped a picture of it before I stepped in. It felt “omen-like.” But of course, that is me again ascribing meaning to what may not intrinsically have any.

And then at the meeting itself, one of the last things we looked at on the screen was a series of crafts based on…making fake sushi.

That job ended up being a really, truly shitty job, too. Catastrophically bad. It seemed like a steady gig at a respectable company, but they ended up owing me like $4k and I had to threaten to sue months later to get all of it. In the meantime, I had my electric shut off and almost got evicted because of the unexpected financial crisis this all plunged me into.

So if we take the “this was some sort of warning about my life” approach, the dream (and the creepy tall owl) was sort of cautioning me that this great job I thought I had was going to go bust. That, plus the nostalgia over a time in my life in which (and it’s coming to me as I write this) I felt much more “in touch” with my true life’s calling.

Because it turned out, that job wasn’t right for me. I tried to make something work that would never ultimately work because that job was Martha Stewart and I was John Keel.

I say all this, and it gives me some closure and comfort. This thing that happened two years ago…that flat, accentless, almost “computer”-sounding voice in my dream…it’s haunted me.

So maybe I can finally put this all behind me, now.

But two things.

One: I’ve just used a tragedy to score some “self-realization” points for myself. Maybe the whole meaning of that dream, and the explosion, was: for fuck’s sake, people died! People lost their homes! Fucking meditate with your fucking mala beads you bought on Amazon.com on the fact that people fucking died!!!

Second: I haven’t been 100% honest with you. I’ve been like, instead…93% honest. 86% honest.

In particular, it’s this statement:

I’ve had both regular and hypnogogic dreams featuring scenarios that did not come true the next day, or a week later, or ever.

That’s largely true for me at present. But in the 1990, when I was in my twenties…I had a lot of precognitive dreams. And especially if it was a hypnogogic dream? Very likely to happen.

And so I go back to the person I was when I used to go to that restaurant. That creepy young woman with a shopping bag full of books and magazines on horror movies and the paranormal and conspiracies. That person who would have most certainly visited “Love Saves The Day” (which I kept inexplicably calling “Happiness Isn’t Too Hard To Find”) before sitting down with a friend at Sushi Park.

And I go back to the owl…

Interesting coincidence about owls…

Did you know that some speculate the sightings of Keel’s Mothman were really that of owls?

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The objects and apparitions do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs.
—John Keel