How many times have we made this trip?
In the early morning of December 21, 2007, I had spent a couple of hours watching various home design and home buying programs on HGTV, waiting to get sleepy. I finally went to bed, tired but still restless. Then my thoughts came together, like furniture in a room, and I drew on an idea from science fiction to "put my house in order."
In a March 1992 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Cause and Effect," the Enterprise gets caught in a time loop which always results in the destruction of the ship in a collision with another spacecraft. Each collision flings the crew and ship back to a period before the calamity.
In each "loop," crew members have an increasing sense that they have done the same things before, including playing the same cards in a poker game, making the same medical diagnosis and knocking over the same glass. This déja vu is accompanied by ghostly murmurings heard throughout the ship, which, upon further investigation, are found to be the voices of crew members, concluding with Captain Jean-Luc Picard's shout to "abandon ship."
In the final minutes of each loop, officers are called to the bridge, where they encounter a starship emerging from a rift in time and space, and heading directly for the Enterprise. When Picard asks for suggestions, Commander Will Riker recommends decompressing the main shuttle bay to shift their ship's position, but Data advises using a tractor beam to push the oncoming starship away. Picard gives Data the go ahead, but the tractor beam is insufficient, the ships collide and the Enterprise explodes moments later.
In a subsequent loop, Data suggests altering his positronic brain so that when the disaster strikes, he can send back in time a brief message that may avert their destruction.
As events again repeat themselves, the number "3" keeps coming up, like threes on an instrument panel or all players in a poker game being dealt three of a kind. At the moment before the collision, Data observes the three insignia on Riker's shirt and quickly deduces that Riker's suggestion is the correct one. Data decompresses the main shuttle bay and the Enterprise is safely swept out of the path of the oncoming ship. Data later figured out that he had "subconsciously" rigged the instruments and card game to place the number 3 clues.
Warnings It dawned on me that the repeated "3" was a form of synchronicity, like the coincidences linking the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy and how the numbers 9 and 11 were associated with events and objects surrounding Nine Eleven. Perhaps these meaningful coincidences are, in fact, messages from the future warning us of pending disasters. Indeed, even the creation of the "Cause and Effect" episode may be a clue that is prompting me to rethink synchronicity.
How should we interpret those messages? The synchronicities linking the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations suggest that those events were inevitable and necessary, and that a future assassination may be required to correct history. The Nine Eleven coincidences point to a need to end abortions, make fundamental social and economic changes, and alter our Mideast policies.
But do we have the capacity to change our destiny? If humanity is caught in a time loop ending in destruction, the accumulation of coincidences is evidence that we have been down this path before and have already failed several times to change our course.
I may be captain of this Ship of State. My incarnation as Re reprises the Trek episode. As my Boat of Re descends in the sky, disaster and a fiery explosion loom ahead for my enterprise. Have I already made the crucial decision or is the moment of destiny still in front of me?
How many times have I made this trip
and cried, like Picard, "Abandon ship!"?
Images Riker and Data on ship's bridge; Enterprise exploding, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount Television, fair use