Say you meet someone on today of all days...
In our mind: It can ‘mean’ nothing. Normalcy. It can ‘mean’ everything. Fate. It can ‘mean’ self-justification. Scapegoating. It can ‘mean’ re-framing. Hindsight.
Carl Jung calls the link between two seemingly random events that go on to reveal some deeper meaning for our psyche “synchronicity” or ‘meaningful coincidence.’ But is this a stretch?
I believe that people and things are always dancing through our lives to show us where we are soft and reflect things back to us. For me, it goes without argument that our friends can see us clearer than we see ourselves; they have the benefit of not being in our heads. But, there is a caveat to all of this. We need to be ready. Eyes (and heart) wide open.
Case and point: I met J. on a train once. I was not ready. To grow. In that way. And so, I did not. The amazing ‘meaningful coincidence’ of that meeting washed away. Not quickly. But with a filmy residue that let me know there was something…
It’s was about as clear as this:
“‘It’s very good jam,’ said the Queen.
‘Well, I don’t want any TO-DAY, at any rate.’
‘You couldn’t have it if you DID want it,’ the Queen said. ‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday–but never jam to-day.’
‘It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”‘ Alice objected.
‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.’
‘I don’t understand you,’ said Alice. ‘It’s dreadfully confusing!’
‘That’s the effect of living backwards,’ the Queen said kindly: ‘it always makes one a little giddy at first–‘
‘Living backwards!’ Alice repeated in great astonishment. ‘I never heard of such a thing!’
‘–but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’
‘I’m sure MINE only works one way,’ Alice remarked. ‘I can’t remember things before they happen.’
‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.” — Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
Yeah. You’re welcome! 😉
Still, can we be at the right place at the right time? Or, conversely, how can we not?
Skeptics criticize synchronicity (and most psychology ‘babble’) as a mere human yearning to create meaning, begging: “[w]hat it explains is more simply and elegantly explained by the ability of the human mind to find meaning and significance where there is none (apophenia)” (Source).
But, then the romantic in me hears the stories of chance encounters and sliding door moments that open to new opportunities of delight.
Or, maybe you just miss the train.
My own life seems a misshapen journey of illogical chance, fertile heartbreak, and amazing serendipity. I had that third figure skating coach who skated with Igor. I met that teacher who gave me that article. I fell for that soul who knew better…
But then I pause and think: how could I not know (and love!) the people I connect with now and still identify myself as ‘me?’ And, am I not an agent in my day?
Ultimately, I think it’s time to let go of my monkey mind and trust those who are MUCH smarter than me. Like Epictetus: “There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” Synchronicity, timing, chance, fate, or the hokey-pokey, when we put on a good face and allow our personal Gaga to flow we can make connections and experience the joys of life.
And, apologies for making you think twice before you step out for that lunchtime coffee… 😛