Spirit and Coincidence

I was down in this part of town I’m not usually in, because I was spending a couple days in an out-of-the-way motel down by the airport that I had just enough points to stay at, to write and chill out.

Albuquerque motels along Gibson. Photo by Diane Joy Schmidt
Albuquerque motels along Gibson. Photo by Diane Joy Schmidt


Getting very little work done, I went for a drive and spotted a Starbucks. I missed the entrance and instead drove around a corner entering the shopping strip behind it, which it turned out was not connected to it, but where there now appeared a large and mysterious Asian grocery store with red and gold lettering emblazoned across the store front, 999 Seafood Supermarket.

I wandered in and stared at bottles of specially umami fish sauce, and packets of dried hermit crabs with many little legs. There was a huge selection of fresh fish in long glass cases, and fresh vegetables along the eastern wall. Then there was an entire aisle of dried noodles in wild little rolls and flat strips and long loops – and as I walked up this aisle I thought of my acupuncturist, Dr. Wei Zhou, who is a Chinese man close to sixty but who seems to be about 34, and who always greets me with a great smile. He walks with great buoyancy, with such a lightness of being, that I, feeling heavy and leaden, thought I might imagine what he feels like as he walks. Suddenly I felt light and energetic and also immediately had the impression that he was walking alongside me.

I then dimly recalled that he had said he sometimes shopped here. About 20 minutes later, at the end of another aisle there he is, pushing his grocery cart with some vegetables. He said he had arrived about 20 minutes earlier.

So how do I even describe this event? How was it that I happened to quite by accident leave my room when I did, accidentally find this store that magnetically drew me in, and then walk in there at the same time when he would be there, in an out of the way part of town and at an odd time. And I had just been talking to him about coincidences at my last appointment. I had read that the I Ching is based on 64 hexagrams, and I had the vague notion that these numerical combinations underpin and can foretell existence.

And was it precognition, or did I sense his spirit in the store, that I would have thought about him so distinctly, and then, seemingly by coincidence, bump into him?

Ten days later. It is Thursday afternoon. I am traveling with my partner Frank Morgan. We are having a meal in Window Rock on the way back from Dine College, where Frank has just given a talk about the similarities and differences in Navajo and Western healing, about symptoms and diagnosis and treatment. He talked a lot about the power of the brain to be positive, and that you must put your belief in the healing, that it is going to work, and not doubt it, because the mind is so powerful.

At this time, I ask him if he can explain this unexpected meeting I’d had with my acupuncturist, from the perspective of Navajo philosophy. And he says, in more words and more eloquently than I can recall, that wind is a spirit and it is conscious and it goes everywhere and our thoughts travel with it.

The restaurant has very few customers, it is still quite early. Over at one table along the window is a medicine woman we know well and greet.

Across the room is Dr. Larry Emerson, and he comes over to say hello to Frank. Frank tells me that Larry talks a lot about the power of the brain. He says that Larry Emerson is a specialist in Navajo thought whose words are cherished – they are poetic and convey meaning. After polishing off a bowl of mutton stew, Frank encourages me to go over and ask Larry if he can explain precognition, coincidences and synchronicity.

First Larry says, “No, I can’t.”

I say that Frank was saying that wind is a spirit and is conscious and goes everywhere and it carries our thoughts.

Then Larry says, “In the traditional Navajo way of knowing, everything is related. No Exceptions.” He says “No Exceptions” with such emphasis that the words almost appear in the air, underlined and capitalized.

“There’s no separation between anything and it’s all cooperation, a blessing. It’s all synced up. Even chaos is accounted for.”

I describe to him some of the recent coincidences that have been happening, (meeting up with him at this moment probably being one of them), and that my “Western mind,” as I think Frank would call it, doesn’t know what to make of them. Frank really is always in indigenous mind, always connected with spirit.

Larry says, “So in that kind of existence, with precognition and coincidence, it’s very likely that those kinds of incidents are synced up, rather than being oddities or abnormalities. Everything’s related. There’s no exceptions.”

I said, “So you mean, that coincidence is more the rule than the exception?”

He concluded, “It’s an illusion, illusory, to assume that things are separated. If they think that separation is true — that’s an illusion.”

About the Author
Diane Joy Schmidt is a regular correspondent and columnist for the New Mexico Jewish Link, the Gallup Independent, and a recent contributor to Hadassah Magazine. Her columns and articles have received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Jewish Press Association's Rockower Awards, the Arizona Press Association, and the Native American Journalists Association. She grew up on Chicago's North Shore in the traditions of Reform Judaism, is anchored by her memories of the fireflies at Union Institute camp and the Big Dipper over Lake Michigan, and is an admirer of all things spiritually resonant.
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