I wrote yesterday that the single tiny scrap of paper I found in the library's copy of Changing Places marked the very page from which I wanted to extract my first quote.
Wednesday night, at a barbecue for university administrative staff, I somehow got into a conversation on such occurrences with my friend Jeff. He told me how one time someone who was stuffing envelopes at work asked him to get seventy-three more envelopes out of the box, and Jeff just pulled out a bunch seemingly at random and handed them over. A few minutes later, the person said, "Hey! You gave me exactly seventy-three. I bet you can't do that again." Jeff reached in and handed over seventy-three more, exactly.
"But," Jeff told me, "this always only happens in small things."
I told him I knew what he meant. "I have this idea," I said, "that when I fall asleep listening to a book on tape, my spirit self is still fully awake and knows how far back I need to rewind the tape. When I rewind later, I try to sense where my spirit self tells me to stop the tape."
Jeff looked at me to go on. "It works sometimes," I said.
A little later at the barbecue I got into a conversation with the bartender. He said he was a "rising senior" and would graduate next year with a baccalaureate degree in political science. I asked whether he planned to continue on for a graduate degree. He said, maybe later. He was interested in international politics and first wanted to travel, maybe work in an Asian country. He spoke well and with confidence. He seemed to me to have high aspirations and wanted to make a difference.
I wished him good luck. He said, "I don't know. There'll be lots of roadblocks along the way."
And I said, "Well, after listening to you, I have a sense that you'll surmount every difficulty that might present itself."
I wondered whether my sense of the young man's "destiny" was accurate. Or whether such a sense works only in small things....