Coincidence Beyond Explanation

“It’s hard to believe in coincidence, but it’s even harder to believe in anything else.”

― John Green

For most of my life I’ve been a card carrying Atheist, and along with being a member of the “skeptics” club I also get bonus access to a “doubtful of meaningful coincidences” attitude to ensure that all the fun and mystery is drained from life.

Over the years, however, I’ve generally gotten much more open to the idea of ‘real magic’ in life.

And last week, in particular, I was presented with an experience that’s tough to explain away as “random probabilities.”

The basics

My Mom hasn’t traveled much in the past 20 years.

I mostly go home to North Carolina to see her, but for the first time in almost a decade she wanted to come visit me in Chicago to attend the opening of my show (and best date night in Chicago) “Game of Imagination” on my birthday in January of this year, 2020.

Here she is on that night:

She flew out of Asheville, North Carolina to get to Chicago. One of her friends drove her to the airport, dropped her off, and decided to visit a second hand shop while she was in Asheville.

What she found

While she poked around the DVD stacks she finds this:

It’s one of 20 promotional DVDs I made back in 2009 after I did a two week tour through South Korea to entertain American troops.

I hand-made every single one of these DVDs.

I used my DVD drive of my laptop to burn it, stuck the disk label on by hand, printed the DVD case insert at Staples, cut them out with scissors, and stuffed the case with a couple postcards with links to my site.

I only handed them out at one conference for college entertainers, and I didn’t think to keep a copy for myself.

Eleven years later it pops up in a thrift store on the day that my Mom’s friend drops her off at the airport to visit me.

The Long Con

My hat is off to my mom’s friend because she kept this a secret for months. She held it as a birthday present for my Mom, which absolutely blew my mom’s mind.

She opens the wrapping and sees “Jonny Zavant” and vaguely recognizes it as my stage name, but it didn’t click what, exactly, it was.

That’s when her friend explains where she found it, and on what day, so Mom calls me up right away.

That’s when it blows my mind because I hadn’t seen or thought about that thing since I gave the last one away. It was never intended to be a mass market thing, and I expected them to be lost to the sands of time.

Instead it finds its way slowly home to my family.


Best I can figure is I handed one to a student from a college in/around Asheville. It probably sat around the student activities office for years until someone decided to get rid of “all this junk” and took it to that thrift shop where it sat for who knows how long before my Mom’s friend found it.

That’s still pretty amazing, though.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”


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