Recently, I've experienced quite a few striking coincidences. For instance, I currently have two students who are in Italy. They don't know each other and work at entirely different jobs yet they both are there during the exact same two weeks, though they are in different cities and one is there for business and the other for pleasure. They also take lessons on Saturday morning one after the other. This situation is actually relatively fortuitous for me because it allows me to prepare information about travel to Italy and use it for both of them which cuts my work load in half. It also gives me my entire Saturday morning off for two weeks since they both canceled lessons during the same time period.
It's not so unusual for students to head off to the same destination and, if I had an entire school's worth of students and two were going to Italy rather than 2 of my crop of 12 students, this probably wouldn't stick out so much as an odd coincidence. It all may be explained though by the fact that Italy seems to be emerging as the travel "flavor of the month" in Japan if I follow the travel wishes of the students I speak with correctly.
One more coincidence piled on top of these onse a short time ago. I had just logged out of Skype after a chat with my sister and idly turned on the T.V. to find that the fashion show one of the students who had gone to Italy to be a part of (behind the scenes) was airing. It wasn't only that but the collection her particular employer was showing was the one that was showing at that very moment. Her employer is one of the lesser-known fashion designers amongst those who are not well-educated in the fashion world (though certainly known to those in fashion circles) so I wouldn't necessarily have expected their line to be shown on Fox Life.
These series of coincidences made me wonder at what point one's perception of a situation turns from "coincidence" to "fate" (provided one is inclined to embrace the latter concept). I've had plenty of situations in life where there have been statistically almost unbelievable coincidences but they didn't lead me to believe they were linked to fate because they were blips which lead to no greater experiences or purpose. For instance, I've ran into former co-workers in Shinjuku station. If you've ever been in Shinjuku station, you'll know that it is so huge and crowded that the chances you'll run into someone you know without carefully coordinating a location, day and time to meet is very low, particularly when your pool of former co-workers is relatively small as mine is and when you don't regularly pass through there.
Some people believe in fate and some simply feel that there are only just statistical improbabilities playing out in our daily lives. Generally speaking, when the sheer amount of coincidence in life defies belief, I think this is when notions of fate may enter the picture. However, it isn't only a matter of frequency of such experiences but also about where those experiences tend to lead. I'm pretty sure the coincidences I mentioned with my students really aren't amounting to much so it's hard to believe that it's "fate" whereas I feel meeting my husband was fate because it had such a great impact on the path my life took.
It seems some of us have a need to feel that the most important opportunities in our lives are being externally directed rather than simply random chances. Many of us like to believe that life is more than a lottery where we sometimes "win" or "lose" by chance because it lends credence to the notion that life is meaningful rather than something that just happens and then we die. I admit, I'm one of those people.
On a side note that is related by a hair, I never watch fashion shows and surely would have turned away had my student's employer's collection not been on display. I mainly watched so I could talk to her about her company's new line when I see her in a week. The reason I have little interest in such things was brought home to me when the Moschino collection was shown to include a variety of dog-shaped handbags. :-p On the bright side, the designer my student's company sells for had the most wearable clothing from a real person's daily living point of view, provided you're slender enough to carry off really sleek and simple lines.