I learned a new word this week, Apophenia, “seeing meaningful patterns in randomness (Webster).”
I was at my quilting wall board working on my twin fourteen-year-old grandsons’ T shirt quilts, placing the prepared squares in a random yet orderly pleasing pattern, strategically putting colors and slogans to form purposeful connections. The podcast I was listening to was, This American Life Podcast a favorite of mine, because it tells poignant, unusual stories.
This specific story was being told by a war correspondent who travels with troops in battle. He used the word apophenia to moniker experiences where-in soldiers sensed danger before impending catastrophe.
These soldiers were so battle worn, they automatically sensed and categorized data and were able to retreat accordingly right before an ambush or a detonated grenade in their path. They perceptibly connected the incoming data dots of “fight-or-flight response” imbedded in their brains’ amygdala. Their procedure-based training and lived battle experiences fine-tuned their attention to details in dangerous situations, equiping them to find order in impending chaos.
On hearing this story, as I was perched at the top of my footstool arranging quilt blocks, I climbed down, abandoned my quilting task, grabbed my ever-ready spiral notebook, and jotted down my scrambled thoughts about the phenomena called Apophenia. I tried to connect the dots like in a kindergarten math workbook where a jumble of numbers starts to make sense after connecting the dots and a recognized pattern emerges!
My organizing of random quilt squares into a meaningful pattern mimics the soldiers’ abilities to create order out of battlefield chaos. They organized factual data from scattered, sorrowful experiences into connected, significant, meaningful, and usable dot-to-dot patterns.
How does Apophenia relate to us? If we are grounded in our spiritual training, giving precedence to our spiritual core, we can perceptively listen to our own stories, finding meaning even in the just out of reach edges. The best stories are relatable, though some-what elusive. Healing can come from telling and retelling stories, giving us practical Apophenia-type intuitions.
I know this post is wordy, but I didn’t know how else to explain my random yet organized thoughts about finding meaning in perceived chaos.
How are you seeing peace and healing amidst your chaos?
Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest and banish your fears.