It’s probably not the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or maybe that’s just what I’m supposed to think.
On Saturday, I traded my reliable but actively fading Scion for a smart if not a bit boring Toyota Corolla. (Between that and the haircut, I’m starting to feel like a grown-up, and I’m not sure how to process this.) I made mention to the friend who accompanied me on the car-buying journey that I rarely see black cars (my old one was white), and that people who drive [a certain kind of car] often do not follow the rules of civilized and defensive driving. On my way home, I saw a lot of black cars, and I was cut off four times by people driving [a certain kind of car]. In fact, as Spring springs forth and folks throw caution to the wind, I’m assuming I’ll be endangered by [a certain kind of car] drivers more frequently as the week progresses.
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is this — when you bring to your attention a name, idea or thought that does not normally reside within your brain, only to see it recur numerous times after. Someone says “Spiro Agnew,” and then there’s a documentary about him on television, a commemorative coin of him for sale at the grocery store, and you see signs for a lost dog named Spiro. That kind of thing. The theory behind Baader-Meinhof is this — our brains like patterns. So if something sticks in our cranial craw, and then pops in again amongst the millions of bits of information we encounter through the course of the day, we immediately draw them together and emphasize them, specifically because they have not happened before. We also downplay the high probabilities and occurrences of coincidence, making it more special in our mind.
I bring this up because I want to challenge you all this week — I want you to look for something impossible in your lives. Impossible being defined as “not able to exist, occur or be done.” It may be concern over your health, or that of a friend or family member. It may be an issue of faith generally — the work of God in the world, the efficacy of Christ. It may be systemic — the repair of the environment, the possibility of peace in places like the Ukraine, CAR or Venezuela. It may be economic — finding financial security or getting out of debt. Whatever it is, whatever is impossible in your life, look for it over the next few days, and how often it might crop up in your thinking, your doing, your being and relating.
This Sunday, as we continue on the disciples of Christ, we’ll be talking about Jude, the patron saint of the impossible; a man steeped in hopeless causes, and what happens next. I’ll be avoiding [certain types of cars], which hopefully is possible, so that I can see you Sunday. I look forward to it.