i used to expound on this theory of interpreting signs from fate, especially in terms of social interaction.
it kind of went like this: if someone caught my attention three times, i should interpret that as fate whacking me on the head saying “do something”–like breaking the familiar stranger routine and striking up some kind of conversation.
this also applies to unfamilar words and concepts, except usually it only takes hearing something novel once or twice before i heed fate’s divine intervention and look it up.
this reminds me of a phenomenon which struck me so profoundly when i was younger (perhaps in elementary school) that i remember the following anecdote to this day.
we had learned in school that the word utensil was another word for forks, knives, and spoons. what was extraordinary was my dad using the word utensil that night (or within a few days) and my knowing exactly what he meant, but also realizing that a few days earlier i would have had no idea what he meant. and maybe the word would have passed right over my head like i’d never heard it, because i don’t think i was in the habit of stopping my parents at every unknown word to ask for a definition.
in that moment i had some awareness that i had been unconscious of my ignorance in the past, which suggested that i could possibly be unconscious of my ignorance in the present. or perhaps it was just my first known realization and appreciation of a coincidence. either way, it stuck with me.