Cracks In The Fabric Of Reality

In the movie The Matrix, the protagonist Neo thinks that he has seen a cat moving in the same direction twice, and casually mentions this to his team. They are immediately alerted, and rapidly explain that the phenomenon known as ‘déjà vu,’ or recalling an event as though it occurred before, is actually a glitch in the simulated world—The Matrix—in which they travel.

In other words, a slightly odd event reflected that their ‘reality’ was fabricated.

That movie is fictional.

Yet, sometimes life reveals cracks, anomalies, oddities and glitches that make us question the fabric of reality in which we live. Is the world that surrounds us as logical, solid and predictable as we have been raised to believe?

Below are three examples (and there are plenty more) of unusual events that made me question how much we really know about our surroundings.


In March of 2018 I stayed at Baita 1697 ski lodge in the village of Pattemouche in the Italian Alps, near Sestriere. I spent days with a group from England—Florence and Katie  and Matthew from Oxford. These individuals were wonderful—polite, eager to ski, inquisitive and kind.

On our last night together, we walked to dinner at La Greppia Restaurant, where we ate fondue and drank a bottle of 2008 Barbaresco wine from Pelissero.

Katie asked us where we wanted to live in the world, if we had a choice. Matt said British Columbia in Canada; Florence mentioned somewhere in Italy, and Katie said she was enjoying England. They joked that I already lived in France, so the question wasn’t relevant. Regardless, I told them that above all, I’d like to visit the Canary Islands, because I had heard that temperatures there were temperate all year long.

That conversation took place at about 9.30 p.m.

We soon walked home and slept. According to my phone, I received an email at 11.57 p.m. that night—three minutes before what would have been my mother’s birthday. The message was titled Trip to Islas Canarias. The text came from an American woman I had met at an event in Bordeaux earlier that year. In the text, her organization invited me on a trip to the Canary Islands.

Coincidence? Indeed. I’ll thank the spirit of my mother for that one.


In 1998 I accepted a job with an international engineering consulting company based in Washington D.C. named The Berger Group. Within weeks of working, my supervisor offered me an opportunity to work in the country of Panama. I said yes, but wondered had I made the right choice.

That weekend an American friend I had worked with in Angola sent me a humorous email, suggesting what to do in D.C. if I had free time.

‘If you find yourself alone in D.C. this weekend, go to Georgetown. Ask any woman if she knows a good used bookstore. Keep asking until you get the answer you need, enter the indicated bookstore and start counting bookcases from the door. Go to the seventh bookcase on your right, the seventh shelf down, and select the seventh book from the left. Displays around the cash register do not count as bookcases. If the bookstore has an upstairs, go up and begin counting there. If it has a basement, by no means enter it. If someone asks if they can help you, do not keep these instructions secret. Loiter as long as you like, buy the book and then peruse it over a mug of coffee.’

I did so. In Georgetown, I asked a series of women until I found a bookstore, and then entered, went to the seventh bookcase, seventh shelf down, and—since books were piled vertically—counted seven books downward on the leftmost pile. I pulled out that book. It was a fictional work written by Eric Zenecy.

The title: Panama.

Suddenly, my doubts about accepting that position in Panama evaporated.


Three years ago I wrote a fictional story for this blog. I wrote it at a hotel one evening while on a trip to coastal Abruzzo, Italy.

The story mentions, among other things, meeting a red haired woman named Mary, Frank Sinatra music, measuring gravity waves, coincidences and the movie Blade Runner.

The next day I was introduced to our tour guide—a lovely red-haired woman named Maria. On that day also the Wall Street Journal published an article titled ‘When World’s Collide, Astronomers Watch’—about measuring gravity waves. That issue of the WSJ also included an article titled ‘The Science Behind Coincidences.’ Within 48 hours of writing that piece I also read a New Yorker Magazine article that included a review of the new Blade Runner 2049 movie; it mentioned that the movie included Frank Sinatra music.

Statistical chance? Perhaps.

If nothing else, these events reminded me that we are connected to the world around us in ways we have not learned to understand.


Comments from Readers

  • Love this Tom

  • Tom

    Glad you enjoyed, Karin!

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