09October2016: Luck-Coincidence-Intervention

Program designed and led by Glenn Lippman.

Hillsoboro Pineland Natural Area


  • Glenn Lippman
  • Keith Howells
  • Marla Silverman
  • Caryn Wachsler
  • Rose James

Program Questions:

  1.  Define Luck.
    Define Coincidence.
    Define Divine Intervention or intervention from a higher power.
  2.  Colin is an executive with a wife & kids and very active as a long distance cyclist.  Over time Colin’s knees and joints began to swell creating pain.  None of the physicians Colin visited could figure out the problem.  Colin travels to/from work via train.  On one commute from work to home, Colin was attacked by several teenagers while on the train.  He fell to the ground with blood on face.  Violence stopped when the train stopped at the station, and emergency personnel brought Colin to the hospital.  His teeth were shattered, his jaw jutted to one side.  Disoriented.
    After admitted, doctors did MRIs and other diagnostics.  Fitted Colin with a brace for neck pain, and surgeons are preparing to operate on his jaw.  Doctor visited to discuss MRI.  It wasn’t a bruise or fracture, but a tumor in his spinal cord, near his neck.  Very large, and needed to come out.  Instantly this explained everything, his balance, joint swelling, etc.  If this tumor would have gone unnoticed for another day or so, Colin could have died from the cancer.
    So, the question … was the brutal assault on the train a tragedy or was it the luckiest ride of Colin’s life?  Would have the scan happened without the assault?  Was it coincidence?  Can bad things ever be considered good?  Did Colin need to be hurt badly enough for his cure to be found?

    My wife and her brother were traveling through Europe in the spring of 1986.  I was home working in California.  I knew their itinerary but did not know exactly where they were. I hadn’t talked to them in a couple of days. I got bored and called an overseas operator and got her to call a pay phone outside of Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France.
    After about 15 rings, someone finally picked up the phone. It was my wife.
    Is that just luck or coincidence?

  3.  An American writer Anne Parrish and her husband were on holiday in Paris in 1920. They were browsing bookshops and Anne picked up a book that was a particular favorite of hers, “Jack Frost and Other Stories”. Anne told her husband that she had been given a copy as a child by her parents and had wonderful memories of the book.
    Anne’s husband took the book and opened it. On the inside cover there was a hand written inscription. It said, “Anne Parrish, 209 N Weber Street, Colorado Springs”. The inscription was written in Anne’s handwriting. It was Anne’s very own book from all those years ago!
  4. No One Reality.  “We all see things through our own lens and we settle on the vision that gives us the greatest sense of comfort.  When things happen to us we sift and re-sift information to re-shape how we see the world.  Imagine a group of people sitting around a campfire.  One person may see the campfire as beautiful.  The flames sparking memories of childhood, families and friends.  Another person who suffered serious burn injuries may seem the very same campfire as ugly and dangerous.  There is no one reality!  It is all in the framing.  The way we see something isn’t always how it really is.” Shankar Vedantam, NPR reporter.


Caryn Wachsler
Great topic, great conversation! Thanks everybody 🙂

Rose James
Insightful fun group!! Txs everyone!!!!

Glenn Lippman
Very interesting discussion. Thanks to all our philosophers in contemplating various scenarios as it relates to luck, coincidence, divine intervention or science. We learned that although science can predict likelihood of an event, not all events make sense without a little help from something beyond ourselves. It was good to see Keith again, and thanks to Rose, Caryn and Marla for your introspection. We all agreed with one reality with multiple frames or perspectives. Beautiful day in a beautiful park.