Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chance Meetings Defined by Random Chaos or Fate?

“I like chance meetings — life is full of them. Everyday, without realizing it, I pass people whom I should know. At this moment, in this cafe, we’re sitting next to strangers. Everyone will get up, leave, and go on their own way. And they’ll never meet again. And if they do, they won't realize that it's not for the first time.”
- Krzysztof Kieślowski (Director of Film Trilogy "Red", "White, "Blue")

To be familiar with Krzysztof Kieślowski's films is to recognize that this quote befits his approach toward filmmaking and story developments. A minor character in the backdrop of one film becomes the primary protagonists of the sequel.

I find this quote fascinating as I have wondered this as well. I wonder what our lives look like if we could zoom out and see the complex matrix of our interactions with others, the points when we intersect at junctures of street corners, classrooms and theatres. As strangers who think we have never met, we discover we shared the same space years ago at the same time. When we look at each other...perhaps we look familiar. Maybe we have been familiar. I recall being in high school (perhaps the summer of junior year?) and a classmate named Taylor made a rather perplexing comment as we waited for a bus. Someone made a comment that my hair had reddish highlights or silver highlights. Taylor, solemnly observed me and said I had silvery-shiny highlights. He then said he knew me pretty well or something like that. At that point, I said to him that I recall seeing him in our junior high school biology class where he sat at the first row closest to the door entrance, his red and black checkered jacket covering his head. He slept (or pretended to sleep) through all the lectures. I never spoke to him then I think but he was one of the amusing characters in that classroom aside from two girls who came in dressed as if they were pregnant, their backs arched over presumably by the weight of their poofy pillows tied to their bellies or more likely, by the weight of their imagination of a pregnancy. Taylor said quietly and dismissively of that fond bio classroom memory, "I know you much more than that." Hmmmm. Well, maybe in a past life.

I think of random coincidences... maybe they were fated and deliberate rather than the debris of chaos, part of a matrix of a determined future unbeknownst to us. Recently, I joined Facebook.com site and was surprised and bittersweetly delighted to see an email from the younger sister of my late best friend and former bf Ben Walter who happened to have searched for my name on Facebook that very day I signed up. I had wanted to look up Angharad's contact info through a friend of hers since her contact info was not on her site. What a strange and beautiful coincidence that she should have happened to think of searching for my name that very day I signed up.

I wonder about deja vu... is it possible that some people seem familiar to us because they are characters in our lives each time? Perhaps, those who experience deja vu more often re-experience their lives over and over, seeing the same characters again each time. However, for others who are living their lives currently for the first time, perhaps, they don't experience deja vu or a strange sense of familiarity with their existing lives. If we suppose this is true, why then are some of us destined to repeat the same struggles of our previous lives, treading through the same muddy paths, destined to make the same mistakes? Is there a lesson we're supposed to learn but keep missing each time? I like to imagine that perhaps at the moments of our deaths, we are offered two options... a new beginning or a chance to return to our past lives if that would be the only way to see our loved ones again. What if it took thousands of years to be reborn as ourselves or billions of years for the universe to return to this state where we could relive our lives? What if there are some of us who are aware of this cycle somehow in our subconscious and the deep-seated loneliness we may feel stems from the bittersweet recognition that our time is but one quick instance in the billions of years it will take to return and see the ones we love again? Would it not be bittersweet and lovely then to see the face of our loved ones and to re-experience perfect moments with them only to know that it would take millions of years to return to that same moment? What if I've been a lonely nebula floating in the ocean of time, in the womb of the universe waiting to be reborn but alone all this time...

If we could zoom out to witness and map the paths and crossings of our lives like spectators observing our context to our contemporaries, what would the map of our lives look like? Do our paths and interconnections repeat every hundred of years in the paths of our ancestors? Presumably, the world we live in is experienced as smaller to us even as our life footprints span a greater distance. We can travel to further places than our ancestors did in a lifetime. However, could our travels mirror the movements and distances of our ancestors in their clans at their micro-level? I often contemplated when I was in college whether human interactions mirror molecular interactions. Could friendships, relationships, and larger group networks be described in terms such as covalent bonding, ionic bonding, etc?

- Janet Si-Ming Lee
Principal Designer, Siming Cybercreative

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