No weird revelation is involved when someone sees a dime on the sidewalk, picks up the coin, and pockets it. Even if this is not an everyday occurrence for a given individual, it remains without any overtones or implications of the fateful, the extraordinary. But suppose this coin has some unusual feature that, upon investigation, makes it a token of considerable wealth. Suddenly a great change, or at least the potential for change, enters into someone’s life; suddenly the expected course of things threatens to veer off toward wholly unforeseen destinations.
It could seem that the coin might have been overlooked as it lay on the pavement, that its finder might easily have passed it by as others surely had done. But whoever had found this unusual object and discovers its significance soon realizes something: that he has been lured into a trap and is finding it difficult to imagine that things might have been different. The former prospects of life become distant and can now be seen to have been tentative in any case: what did he ever really know about the path his life was on before he came upon that coin? Obviously very little. But what does he know about such things now that they have taken a rather melodramatic turn? No more than he ever did, which becomes even more apparent when he eventually falls victim to a spectral numismatist who wants his rare coin returned. Then our finder-keeper comes into a terrible knowledge about the unknowable, the mysterious, the truly weird aspect of his existence – the extraordinary fact of the universe and of one’s being in it. Paradoxically, it is the uncommon event that may best demonstrate the common predicament.