Cacoethes is my new favourite word

If I had to choose something to believe in, I would probably choose luck. I used to believe in luck, before I started reading too many books. I used to believe that I could manipulate odds in my favour. I carried crystals. I had lucky knickers.

It fitted in quite nicely with my old narrative of synchronicity. Coincidences happened for a reason, and perhaps if I figured out the magic behind them then I could conjure up more of them. And sometimes it worked! Sometimes I was in the right place, at the right time, wearing the right knickers, and whatever I was hoping to happen would happen.
Well, not exactly what I wanted… but something better. Sometimes.

The trouble with this kind of thinking, and not just that it’s a bit daft, is that sometimes these beautiful experiences happened totally at random. I would then try frantically to work out what magical thing I’d been doing just before it happened so that I could do that again and therefore cause the event again. These wonderful events usually involved men, so I would get dumped and heartbrokenly try to remember what song was playing when he turned up at my house that first day, and then play it again until he came back.

Funnily enough, it doesn’t work. I’ve always known it doesn’t work! But where is the hope in that?

I used to read tarot cards – just for friends, at parties. It was generally girls who asked me to do it, and they always wanted to know about their next relationship. That’s my story of how I learned cold and warm and hot reading. I would just tell them what they wanted to hear, whilst pointing at the pretty pictures. I gave them positive advice and it gave them the confidence to believe they had a chance with whoever they wanted. And it would be however it would be: the chances are good that some of my predictions came true.

It all comes down to chance, ultimately, but not everyone understands probability properly. I don’t. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that they don’t understand it. I’m ever so slightly ahead there now, but still. Even I fall victim to charm bracelets.

We don’t understand the likelihood of something happening, so we may overestimate its uniqueness. We forget about cause and effect, or get them arse about face. We ignore the dull moments and cherry-pick the others, and we see patterns where there are none because even though we’re intelligent beings we still need a few shortcuts. And sometimes we see some amazing patterns like fucking kaleidoscopes and we say ‘ah, synchronicity’.

So here’s a few tips. Remember that you’re not owed anything. You’re not ‘due’ – it doesn’t work like that. But don’t worry; you can never jinx yourself because that’s not real either. And clusters of events are absolutely part of random distribution. You might get all of your wishes come true in one week and then live a quiet life forever after. Garnets and clovers will not change your destiny. Never trust girls who claim to be fortune-tellers because they’re probably just liars who are practicing their analysis skills. Random means random; a random playlist will prove this to you. You could spend a lifetime waiting for ‘that’ chance so let’s just be opportunists.

Given a long enough timeline… everything will balance out. But is a human lifetime long enough?

My fortune for you is: A cat in hell’s chance is still a chance.


7 thoughts on “Cacoethes is my new favourite word

  1. I can’t really say I believe in coincidence. I’m not really sure I have a great answer for what else random events like this could be. I have never fully decided. I’m not saying things are fate, but I don’t believe in coincidence.

    Death has always been a large part of my life, so you meet enough people, you see enough die, it makes you think. Circumstances withstanding I do believe we come across every soul we meet for a reason. Good, bad, maybe seemingly random as you met them only once and said hello.

    I don’t do well explaining what I’m saying because to explain it would require ironically enough, far more explanation. However Life & Death have taught me, not to believe in coincidence.

    1. No, I think I understand. I don’t want to write things off as mere coincidences because that’s just a cop-out. But I like the idea of some kind of scientific synchronicity, something that will presumably involve quantum physics and mathematics and not be understood in our lifetimes. There is a reason, some meaning to the cause and effect; we just don’t know what it is yet.

      1. I agree with your thought process on the subject. Sometimes I think life is one huge test that evolves and changes by person. I wonder if someone is out there watching us like lab rats in an experiment.

        Random thought but yeah…

        1. Not random at all, I’ve had similar thoughts. I think when you’re genuinely open-minded about existence, and you find yourself wondering what the point of it all is, your mind tends to wander into those kinds of places.

          1. Life’s purpose, what it all means, has intrigued me, much like the world and quite like humanity itself, for as far back as I can remember. I often find myself pondering many of life’s mysteries but also just what makes people who they become.

            One soul may grow up in an abusive household, become a model citizen. Another may be given everything, and have a loving and caring family, and grow up to be a dictator or mass murderer, serial killer, any number of horrible things.

            What makes that soul become evil, while another becomes good? Is it simply chemical reactions, the way a mind in one soul develops, or it does it have something to do with said soul?

          2. Definitely. Although bear in mind we don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors; I often wonder how some people managed to get themselves into a total state when they had seemingly idyllic childhoods, but then I’ve found out about something horrible happening to them as a kid and suddenly you can kind of understand. (Not always, though – obviously.)

            I don’t really have any sensible suggestions, because I haven’t found a definition for ‘soul’ that makes sense to me yet. I did a lot of reading about identity and mental boundaries this year and it’s thrown me a bit! But I think it’s likely to be a bit of everything you said, all at once. Chemical reactions, personal energy, nature, nurture… I think the person you become is the perfect storm of all of those things, for better or for worse.

          3. An apt description and an answer I like. You summarize it well. I know we will probably never truly know what makes a soul what they become but you I can definitely agree with the idea it is a perfect storm as you put it of all the above and more.

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