The first sense of the word coincidence emphasises “apparent mere chance,” or where the very low probability of two events happening at the same time actually happens with one or other party doing nothing to plan the point of intersection. “We met at the mall by coincidence” is a good example. Or “we both chose to go to the same restaurant that night by coincidence” is another. Independently made choices that happen to put two or more people who know each other in the same place at the same time is, indeed, a coincidence in the first sense of the word. Coincidence in this sense can also be manufactured, where one person knows where the other will be, and “just happens” to be there at the same time, all the while disclaiming any forethought or pre-planning. “Mere chance”? Apparently in some cases, but actually not although apparently so in others.
But coincidence has a second meaning too. It removes the sense of apparent mere chance, and just denotes the “condition or fact or coinciding.” So perhaps we re-write the word as “common incidence,” which then gives us the ability to create it by design. For example, it’s by design that common incidence happens all the time:
- We arrange to meet someone at the local cafe for coffee at 2pm. We both turn up. It’s a coincidence (sense 2), but not a coincidence (sense 1).
- We, along with the other co-workers who work out of our offices, turn up everyday to get to work. It’s a coincidence (sense 2).
- We join a running club in our city, and arrange out schedule to be there at 5pm every Tuesday, along with every other member of the club who can make it. Another coincidence (sense 2).
What coincidences (sense 2) would be useful in your work and life in 2019? Get designing.