There’s the commercial where he talks about how Michael Phelps is not a fish, how he doesn’t have gills or a dorsal fin. And then there’s the one where that track star falls down and his dad helps him across the finish line. And I think there’s another one about past Olympians who didn’t medal but who are inspiring anyway. And there are some renewable energy ads that he also narrates. And maybe a GE ad, I’m not sure.
But I also seem to be hearing him in all sorts of other places. Like there was some documentary on PBS recently that was narrated by . . . Morgan Freeman. And while I was flipping through the channels, I must have passed by Shawshank Redemption or March of the Penguins or War of the Worlds or Million Dollar Baby or Cosmic Voyage or Driving Miss Daisy or Seven. One of those.
And I had a dream the other night narrated by Mr. Freeman where some penguins were escaping from a prison in the deep south and faced all sorts of hardship until, in a heartwarming conclusion, they finally made it out and ended up meeting in Mexico.
He’s freaking everywhere.
Of course, this happens to all of us, doesn’t it? You hear a new word or phrase like, say, “baba ghanoush,” and pretty soon, you’re hearing it all the time. Once, the word bougainvillea started stalking me. I saw it in The Poisonwood Bible and then I began to notice it in the lyrics of a Paul Simon song and in the lyrics of an Iron & Wine song.
Is there a name for this occurrence?
Paulo Coelho kind of refers it in his novel The Alchemist when he explains the various coincidences in Santiago’s life by claiming that “all the universe conspires to help” us achieve our “personal destinies.” But since I doubt bougainvillea is part of some grand personal destiny for me, I crave a more earth-bound recognition of this phenomenon.
The more general concept of coincidence doesn’t quite work either. As I understand it, coincidence is simply an unexplained concurrence of events. The Morgan Freeman thing is a type of coincidence, but what I’m talking about is unique in that a) perception plays a big role (I started to notice bougainvillea after I saw it in print multiple times, but it was always there, lurking in the background whenever my music library shuffled through Paul Simon or Iron &Wine), and b) it’s tenacious. Like I said before, it’s like being stalked almost. It’s not simply a matter of “hey, that’s strange; we were just talking about baba ghanoush.” It’s more like you taste baba ghanoush for the first time and then the lady in line ahead of you at the store is purchasing baba ghanoush and then you see it on the menu at a restaurant — not a Middle Eastern restaurant, mind you, but some place where you really wouldn’t expect it, like a sub shop or something — and then you’re flipping through TV stations and you whiz past a cooking show where they’re preparing baba ghanoush. It goes on.
The word serendipity – one I’ve always been fond of, by the way – gets close to describing this concept, but even serendipity is a little too special. It describes fortunate discoveries that we weren’t looking for. What I’m talking about is not necessarily fortunate. It’s often downright annoying, in fact.
Maybe we should coin a new word. Coindipity? Serendijeezlouise? Morganopoly?