It’s Only Coincidence When You Aren’t Willing To Be Open To Fate

“Fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resists.” ~Plutarch

You’ve got to do what you’re meant to do.

Have you ever had an experience that was so out-of-the-blue bizarre that you start questioning whether it was a striking coincidence or an act of fate? For example, there have been multiple instances in my life when I have picked up the phone to call someone only to discover they are already on the other end of the line; we were calling each other at the same time even though it was not planned. That type of event always makes me wonder what type of links exist between human minds. Is an incident like that purely coincidence or is there some type of tie between the two individuals that brings them together simultaneously?

I have been thinking over the past couple days about the notion of fate and how it is related to coincidence. So, today I asked some of my friends what their thoughts were on the subject. My husband doesn’t believe in fate. He thinks most things in life are coincidence. One friend told me that she believes there is no such thing as fate, but there is God’s will and that He determines, orchestrates, ordains, and predetermines how each individual life unfolds. My sister told me that she believes opportunities present themselves via fate and then we have free will to do with them what we want. Another friend told me that she’s had so many “random” occurrences that really couldn’t be random at all, so she subscribes to the notion that fate is chaos theory at work. The more I asked people their thoughts about fate versus coincidence, the more my head started to swim.

I’ve long held the belief that fate does exist. I think the trick lies in being open-minded when “random” things happen. It’s my assertion that fate throws things at you, and you have to be clever enough and receptive enough to know what you’re seeing. Have you ever known people who believe that fate has screwed them over? Their misery is a direct result of things that have happened “to” them. They have no recognition that their own actions (or lack thereof) might have something to do with their less-than-optimal state of being. A friend shared this quote by Richard Bach today: “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they are yours.” Sadly, I know quite a few people who live a life of limitations because they honestly believe that is all there is for them. They are unable to look outside their box. In their case, fate is a negative concept, one that rids them of any responsibility for their unhappiness.

I don’t see fate that way at all. I think that life presents you with the people, experiences, and circumstances that will best allow you to reach your true potential as a human being. You need simply to be open to them. To do that, though, you need to be at least somewhat in tune with your true self. Unfortunately, many people never reach that point. I’ve seen situations where a solution has presented itself to someone repeatedly. I see it, but they do not. They continue on an unfavorable path while the universe keeps trying to nudge them in an alternate direction. All the signs are there, but they are blind to them. You can almost hear fate telling them, “Dummy…it’s right here. Wake up.” There have been times in my life when I was certain I was supposed to do one thing and yet doors kept closing on the thing I was sure I was meant to do. At some point, it finally occurred to me that maybe this was not the path I was intended to take.

What I want to believe is that fate brings us only what we need to reach our highest possible expression of ourselves. Sometimes the thing we need is at cross-purpose to the thing we want, though, and we view fate as negative. But, it all comes down to perception, doesn’t it? Sometimes when the universe is telling us no, it’s doing so because there is something better, bigger, and more important for us to attend to. At least, that’s how I see it. Since there is no way of knowing for certain if fate plays a bigger role in our life than coincidence, I’m certainly open to other possibilities. What do you think?



  1. Yeah, what you said….no, just kidding. I like your interpretation though about fate bringing us what we need to reach our highest potential. It’s a question as to if we use it to our advantage or not. Maybe. I believe in fate, but believe the rest if up to us. We have the ability to be in charge of our destiny.

  2. A fine subject and I’ll share my perspective. I studied this at University through the lens of Eastern Religion. My mentor at San Diego State referred to fate as ‘what will be, will be’. But talked about Destiny, a higher quality of fate. Destiny as he taught his students is ‘what will be WELL, rather than ill’. It implies that we have a hand in our ‘fates’ by our response to events as they approach us. Fate can bring us misfortune, or dirt…whatever, but our response to it is Destiny. We can respond well or ill and that in turn influences what will be and so forth. I think maybe that is what you are driving at in this blog. BTW as Professor Anderson often reminded his students, responding well to great good fortune is also a quality of fate and can be botched just as easily as an ill-response to misfortune.

    I also am a student of psychologist Carl Jung’s thought. He had a term for the type of coincidence you are exploring in this blog. He called it synchronicity, meaningful coincidence.
    Might I suggest his book Man And His Symbols, a good beginning primer to the man’s thought. He writes of synchronicity on p. 226: “the term means a ‘meaningful coincidence’ of outer and inner events that are not themselves causally connected”. He goes on to explain that if an airplane crashes while one is blowing ones nose that is simply a chance occurrence of two events. But if a dress shop delivers you a black frock instead of the blue one you ordered, and on the day a close relative died, then THAT would be meaningful coincidence. The two events are not casually related but they are related by the symbolic meaning our culture gives to the color black.

    Well I had better stop for the evening. Much enjoyed your piece and well written.

    Ken W.

  3. Well, thanks Justine. Now you have me pondering all these great thoughts when I should be cleaning the kitchen, enjoying a beautiful (though hot) August day and sipping iced tea and eating bon bons. But I love it.

  4. Come on! Why must you post things that fill me with thoughts in response which would be too long for a post!?
    Okay. A) About the phone & coincidence, paragraph 1. Brains operate on electrical energy the same as phones, lightning, static, etc. This applies to dogs, too. Dogs can sense impending earthquakes and know when their person is about to have a seizure. I don’t know how these things work, but I think there may be some telepathy, and I think that explains (at the risk of expolding a worm can) things like psychics, John Edwards, and such. Not that they aren’t legitimate, just that it’s some telepathy most of us haven’t developed or have lost track of. My thoughts.
    B) Fate/chaos/coincidence? (paragraph 2 & 3) The set of coincidences occurring over the past 14.5 BILLION years that resulted in our being here with these brains…astronomical, literally. I hold the simple belief that everything is before us. There’s no more magic or superstition or other-worldy affects in my life than there is in the lives of the ants beneath my feet. My feeling is that all elements and all life forms in the universe are treated equally. The human brain has invented amazing things including space flight and this internet, and has 10,000 years of uneducated and unenlightened experience inventing “reasons” for everything from thunder to crop failure. (Sound effects: opening another can of worms) Humans are masters of deluding themselves with an unlimited number of constructs of magic, superstition or fantasy, thanks to the amazing ability for the mind to imagine things that aren’t there or don’t exist. How do you think we invented space travel and the internet? By imagining them first! No fate. No destiny. No Thor making thunder, no aliens, no ghosts, no Bigfoot.
    No deity that must be satisfied or my family dies. No judgement for stupid mistakes I made when I was 23 that will condemn me to netherworlds for eternity. I’m okay with that.
    C) Things that come our way? (paragraph 4 & 5) Another Richard Bach quote:
    “You are never given a problem that doesn’t bring a gift for you in its hands. You may have to work for it, however.”

    That’s my slice. I call it as I see it!

    Be at peace,


    1. Great comment, Paz. May I open another worm can? That “humans are masters of deluding themselves with an unlimited number of constructs of magic, superstition or fantasy” includes that great delusion: religion. I have an acquaintance who won’t credit any of the scientific support and evidence for global warming, yet he wholeheartedly believes in an afterlife, for which there is not one shread of evidence. Fear of death is a powerful provider. My own term for “fate” or “coincidence” or whatever you wish to call it is ACCIDENT, and we either have the good sense to take advantage of it or not.

      1. I’m not touching any of this with a 90-foot pole. It’s not that I’m a coward. I simply prefer to avoid additional conflict among people I know when I can. 😉

  5. Driving home from work today I flashed on an incident that occurred when I was working near Yellowstone Park one summer between semesters, during my college years. I was a line cook at a small resort near the south entrance to the park. Two of my waitresses, Jane and Pat, decided to take a trip around Yellowstone in one of the woman’s pick-up truck on their day’s off, planning to camp out for one evening. They came into the kitchen and purchased THREE top sirloins and THREE baked potatoes from the staff. I figured they wanted extra servings, in case they were very hungry. Well next day a buddy of mine asked me to take a day trip into the Park with him. Somewhere in the park his car broke down. He had to stay near West Yellowstone to await repairs and I had to hitchhike back to be to work the next afternoon. Well, turns out Jane and Pat happened by and stopped to give me a ride. But as they weren’t returning immediately I had to camp with them for that night. (kind souls, both) Well turns out they had an extra steak and potato with them. How’s that for coincidence and for Providence looking out for one!

    I do not know if it was based on that or experience or not but I went on several years later to do quite a bit of hitchhiking around the US and Canada. In fact, my landing in Boulder, Colorado for 12 years is due to a hitchhiking trip I did in ’82. In my thumbing journeys I always had faith I would land on my feet and I look to that first positive hitchhiking experience in the summer of ’69 as part of my faith in the ‘road’. Who knew I was packing my own supper when I prepared those womens’ supplies?

    Ken W.

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