A few days ago, I went to the library. My purpose in going to the library was not to see if my book was on the shelf, but since I was there, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to see if my book was on the shelf. As it turned out, my book was not on the shelf, but another book caught my eye, a book whose author’s name was sufficiently close to my own that it was on the very same shelf that my book would have been on had it been on the shelf: John Scalzi’s The Android’s Dream.
As an on-again-off-again Philip K. Dick fan, I couldn’t help noticing the sheep on the cover and making the implicit connection between Scalzi’s novel and Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? So I had to pick it up. And I did. Then I went back and forth for a bit about whether to bring it home. I can be very lazy when I want to be, and home is about a half-mile from the library, which meant that I would have to carry the book a whole half-mile home, and then I’d have to read it, which means I’d have to squeeze it in between marathon sessions of grading Freshman Composition papers and occasional attempts at procrastination like writing this blog post. In the end, though, I decided to go for it. I checked the book out of the library, walked it home, and, in a further attempt to avoid grading papers, went straight to Facebook to see what my friends were up to.
And here’s where the coincidence comes in: My friend Carla had posted a link to an article on writing that one of her students had forwarded to her. And the author of the link was none other than John Scalzi, the author of the book that had just caught my eye less than half-an-hour earlier.
So what can we learn from all of this (aside from the fact that my laziness and vanity know no bounds)? What does it all mean? What is the universe trying to tell me? Is a coincidence just a coincidence as Lily Tomlin’s character insists in I Heart Huckabees? Or is something bigger afoot? Perhaps the answer lies between the covers of Scalzi’s book. I will soon find out. As Dale Cooper once said in Twin Peaks, “Fellas, coincidence and fate figure largely in our lives.”