Do you believe in God? Or that some being exists “up there” in the universe and is all knowing, all seeing, with your best interests at heart? What about destiny, or fate…that everything happens for a reason and that your path has already been chosen for you. Do you believe that not-so-modern but certainly North American notion that you should go out and make your own destiny – that only you are in charge of your life and it will be what you make of it…and yet, there’s something inside you that tells you there’s more to it than that…
They say that life is a series of choices – like the movie, Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow (a definite fave of mine). You wake up in the morning, you’re running late so you skip getting that coffee and make it to your desk and realize you’ve missed a spontaneous meeting with your boss and nothing seems to be going your way… Or, you say, “hey, I’m going to be late anyway…I could really use a cup of coffee” and you line up, grab your tall-lactose free-nonfat latte, get into work late and discover that your boss is out of the office so no one’s the wiser and you can just ease into your day – perhaps by writing your next blog post or something…
True story. Mine. Was it coincidence? Or just good luck? Or was it, synchronicity?
So what is synchronicity? Is it just a fancy word for when things are all seemingly going “in sync”? Carl Jung, famous psychologist and founder of analytical psychology “scientific-ized” this concept.
Synchronicity holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.*
In other words, and to put it in more of my own, plain language, when things just seem to happen out of nowhere and somehow they all just make sense. Like when you feel like you can’t seem to find the right dress for that special event and lo and behold, the dress was hanging in your closet the whole time – you just needed a new belt and pair of shoes to make it all come together which you ended up buying because the shoe store next to your favourite dress shop had a 40% off sale sign that drew you in.
But synchronicity is not just about the frivolity of shoes and dresses…no. Now what if that outfit that you put together ends up being the very one that the hiring manager at the company you recently applied for a job at, really admired and wished she was wearing? So…she couldn’t help commenting on it at the event you both find yourselves and you, not knowing who she is or her role, happen to make a comment like, “Yes. It makes me feel like a million bucks! So much so, that I’ve forgotten how nervous I am for my upcoming interview. Imagine if you could go into interviews wearing your favourite stilettos and dress?” And the hiring manager says, “I’m sure you’ll be great! Where did you apply?” And…as I said before, lo and behold.
Interesting? Coincidence or synchronicity? Another way to describe synchronicity is to say that “the universe has your back”. That saying, “be careful what you wish for – you just may get it” that’s all part of this idea. Is it energy? Is it some higher being? Is it God?
So here’s what I believe. And what I’ve really come to notice. It’s very hard to make sense and logic out of the idea of things happening out of nowhere and without a plan. For someone like me, who is extremely analytical – yes, even when I’m in my imaginary, movie-like world – I need scientific reasoning. While synchronicity was a significant part of Carl Jung’s contributions to modern day psychology – the science of psychology – the idea itself still seems, well, “paranormal.”
Thanks to my ongoing journey as a student of life, and hence, the new book I’ve been reading called The Artist’s Way, I’ve tried one exercise in synchronicity and it’s had me questioning my black and white views on cause and effect. I’ll share it with you. The idea is to accept (accept blindly, I might add) that the universe (or God or whatever you may believe) is actually acting in your interests. To put in a nutshell, rather than plan for what you want, just declare what you want – the how you get there will present itself…by way of synchronicity. Today, we refer to some of this as networking. A friend of a friend who has a colleague who has the answer we’re looking for. How much more interesting it would be if that chain of events was viewed as synchronicity.
The next time you’re encountered with a “coincidence” just stop for a second and think about it…did it just seem to come out of nowhere? And yet, did it somehow answer a question that was in your head? Hmmmm….
In the meantime, perhaps the most “synchronistic” thing that has ever happened to me – other than the time when I was so stressed out I really needed desperately to release some steam in a foreign city and lo and behold, the regular pianist at the restaurant I went to was absent and so the manager allowed me to play the piano to a round of applause and a wonderful feeling of joy and renewed reassurance in myself – has been becoming a mother. This month, take a moment and remember yours. The path to and of motherhood is full of challenges, chance, happenstance and wonder…and we could use a whole lot of synchronicity!
*As it appears in Tarnas, Richard (2006). Cosmos and Psyche. New York: Penguin Group. p. 50. ISBN 0-670-03292-1.