A quote from Miller, the junkman in the movie, Repo Man:
” A lot o’ people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch o’ unconnected incidents ‘n things. They don’t realize that there’s this, like, lattice o’ coincidence that lays on top o’ everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you’re thinkin’ about a plate o’ shrimp. Suddenly someone’ll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o’ shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin’ for one, either. It’s all part of a cosmic unconsciousness.”
A quote from my brother:
“If it happens once, it’ll happen again.”
A quote from my daughter:
“Do you think John Wesley Powell is, like, haunting us, Mom?”
Nah, I think synchronicity and the LOC (Lattice of Coincidence) are just playing with us. And you can quote me on that. If not, how do you explain the almost manic intensity with which John Wesley Powell, the famous explorer, keeps popping up in our lives? Why did Jellicle Cats and Joe Strummer, the Clash’s lead singer, show up on the same day in two unrelated searches that I did and then turn up a day later in a book I had taken out of the library almost two weeks before, but never read?
John Wesley Powell lost his right arm as a major in the Civil War and then went on to explore the Grand Canyon by taking a crew in wooden boats down the Green and Colorado rivers. He claimed that he wasn’t an adventurer, merely a scientist who wanted to use scientific discoveries to benefit humankind. Not only was he a naturalist, but he also had a good understanding of geology, anthropology, ethnology and hydrology.
Later on in life, he headed the Smithsonian and the US Geological Survey. What my daughter likes about him is that he was a homeschooler for much of his childhood, took seven years of college courses, never graduated and became a professor. Different time, for sure. She read about him in a book we bought for a quarter in a bin at the supermarket. That was last week.
Two nights later, we turned on the Travel Channel, and there was JWP, piloting a wooden boat through the Grand Canyon. We watched the show and compared it to the biography book and noticed that, in the book, the illustration of him in the boat showed him with two arms. On the show, he was portrayed by an actor with his back to us and one sleeve pinned up. It was my daughter who realized that both of those depictions were wrong, by the way, because he only lost his forearm. She’s quick.
The Jellicle Cats come into it because I was trying to remember a T.S. Eliot quote and they showed up when I searched on his name. Two hours later, I was covered with dust and had dug out “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” and was sharing it with Daughter, who has a “Rumtumtugger” sort of cat of her own.
Joe Strummer, the late lead singer of the punk rock group, The Clash, during the end of the 70’s, showed up in another search I did when I was writing a post on spittoons because he attributed his Hepatitis C to a fan’s spitting on him at a 1978 performance. The fan wasn’t knocking his performance, by the way, just expressing his adulation in the usual free-spirited way of punk audiences in those days. Apparently, any band member not entirely covered in gobs of saliva after a show was suspected of Republican leanings.
So that’s where things stood, when I settled down on Monday night, to read my last remaining book from the ones I’d checked out of the library two weeks before. It was a mid-sized mystery novel called, “Cattery Row” by Clea Simon.
It hooked me from the first page and I liked it well enough so that I put her first book, “Mew is for Murder” on my list for the library trip I planned for the next day. Right after I did that, partway through the book, Simon mentioned Jellicle cats and then, right after that, Joe Strummer. Okay, so the book’s sleuth is a cat lover and a music critic who likes punk rock, so why shouldn’t she mention Jellicle cats and Joe Strummer? That’s not the question.
The question is, why did I take out that particular book by an author I’d never heard of, leave it unopened for two weeks in the pile next to my computer, and then do two searches that turned up two totally unrelated things that were mentioned in the book?
Now, back to John Wesley Powell. Daughter and I were browsing the children’s room’s shelves for poems by Lillian Moore, who is Daughter’s current fave and one of mine. We were having a tussle with a large book, probably Shel Silverstein still playing around or a book my fifth-grade teacher made me memorize. Anyway, it was in between Daughter and the Moore book she wanted, so she gave it a tug, and it fell, and we both leapt back and hit the books on the shelf behind us.
As we bent to pick them up, face up in front of us were three books on John Wesley Powell. One was his actual diary and Daughter scooped that up “too-too sweet”, as she says. The other two “didn’t have enough pictures” and “too many words she’d have to look up”, so we passed on them. That’s when she asked me if JWP was haunting us. “All part of a cosmic unconsciousness,” I told her, “The old Lattice of Coincidence.”
“You don’t know, do you?” she said.
“Probably just one of those things,” I said.
“Nobody knows, do they?” she said. I told you she was quick.
“As far as I know, it’s just one of those coincidences of synchronicity that strikes every once in a while in life.”
“You really, really don’t know, do you?” She’s also persistent. Little Miss Water-on-Stone.
She shrugged. “Well, I think things just happen. Let’s get some more Lillian Moore books and go home and read.”
I didn’t tell her about the Jellicle Cats and Joe Strummer. It’s one thing to suspect that you’re being haunted by a well-known explorer-scientist. But it’s a whole ‘nother thing to know that cats and punk rock guitarists have you in their sights.