Synchronicity


Alden and I were sitting talking a couple of nights ago, thinking that at some time in the forseeable future, we and our respective spouses might like to take a memorable trip. Perhaps a canal boat in France? Maybe bicycle down the valley of the Rhine from Andermatt in Switzerland to Rotterdam? How about motorcycles across the Nullarbor? Alden, being a nautical type, is keen on something involving flimsy craft floating on large bodies of water. He was telling me about the trip from Vancouver Island northwards which can be made in kayaks, and that it is possible to get collapsible kayaks that can easily go into the boot of a car. As he spoke, I was absent mindedly tapping on my PDA, downloading my email. As the words "collapsible kayaks" were coming out of his mouth, an email arrived from my friend Murray Broom whose business is making collapsible kayaks. Murray doesn't email me often; perhaps 3 or 4 times a year. I won't take this as a confirming sign from God on the Kayaks in Canada idea just yet, but it was a bit odd.

Many years ago, I was involved in an internet discussion on evolution. One of the other participants advised me to read the book The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. The next day, I left my office at 3:00 to collect my daughter Bridget from school. She needed picking up at 3:15 and the journey took ten minutes: I had 5 minutes to spare. Passing the Hamilton library, there was that most rare of things: an empty parking space right outside, and on impulse I pulled into it. The parking meter had five minutes left on it. I ran into the library, and up the stairs to the computerised catalogue. The last person to use it had been doing a search on evolution, and right there on the screen was the shelving information for The Beak of the Finch. I dashed to the shelf, and the book was sitting, not with its spine showing like all the other books, but with its front cover facing outward so it could be seen from 10 feet away. I took it to the desk, had it processed and was back in my car just as the parking meter flag fell.

I expected after that, that The Beak of the Finch would be earth shattering. Oddly, it wasn't; although the book was a good read, it was not particularly helpful in forming my ideas. The collapsible kayak thing similarly, does not seem to be of any great significance. It's odd, but not earth shaking. Often, it seems that these synchronicities do not have any meaning outside of themselves other than to remind us of the interconnectedness of the universe. Which is of course, interconnected; and meaningful even on those occasions when the bits don't line up in a nice orderly fashion. I.e mostly.

Comments

Tim Mathis said…
Ironically enough, I found a lot of apparently meaningless synchronicity in this post. Just got back from the North of Vancouver Island (though admittedly on the other side of the water) a few weeks back, I was just talking to a friend about Murray and the alternative liturgies we were working on in Dunedin, and "The Beak of the Finch" was one of the first books I read on evolution--which helped to sway me from the creationism of my youth.

I think what that says is that you should definitely do the kayak trip. It's the most beautiful area I've been to outside of New Zealand. You should let me know if you come this direction as well. I'll meet you in Victoria or somewhere to buy you a pint.
VenDr said…
Well, Tim, two confirmations. Only one more confirmation needed. I'll see if I can arrange it.I feel a call coming on. I must say though, that such a long trip in a kayak, and sleeping in a tent in woods that have bears in them does make a nice flat, safe canal boat puddling along with a MOTOR in the canals of Brittany seem mighty attractive.

The thing about synchronicities is that they feel like they are meaningful even when they are not. This feeling drives us to read purposes into them that are usually just rationalisations.
Janice said…
Hi Kelvin - well, you know where I live, and I'd have to agree with Tim, this area is one of the most beautiful in the world, and it's possible to travel quite comfortably here too. With regard to collapsible kayaks, have a look here:
http://www.paultheroux.com/books/book-109.html, paying particular attention to the third paragraph down, then maybe check your library for the book. We have some very good Anglican friends at Comox on Vancouver Island, might be able to find you all real beds for a night or two!
Tillerman said…
I shall tell you a tale of syncronicity that happened on our way back to Whangarei from Dunedin last week. It is a tale told against myself and I risk gaffuws and vigourous head nodding but I shall tell it nonetheless because it is interesting and because this sort of thing happens to me all the time.

Some time ago I met a woman in Christchurch who was a friend of my older brother, now without going into details, she called me a tosser (at the time it seemed in jest, yeah right, but like all quips of that sort it rankles one, me a tosser? humpf, snort, wheeze, gasping for air, then: F#$F%@^$F&*@@##%^F*&F ).

(Those of you who have been lying on the floor laughing, hooting at my discomfort with your legs in the air like overturned beetles, welcome back to the story) and I shall continue...
...Last week in Christchurch while walking to Ballentynes for some retail therapy for my dearly beloved and myself I was thinking about this certain lady and what she said. At the very moment that her words rang again in my ears I glanced to the left and saw written diagonally on a rubbish tin in large letters the words "Don't Be A Tosser", meaning of course: put your rubbish in the bin don't toss it away.

What does this mean? I think it means two things. First, that as already been said, these incidents point to the interconnectedness of everything and secondly that if God for his amusement on a slow day pulls a few strings, he at least has a sense of humour.

Of course if the said lady had stated "You are such a dashing, handsome fellow, so witty, intelligent and desirable, please come upstairs with me so that I can examine the cut of your jib, the size of your mizzen mast and the tautness of your forestay" and the rubbish tin declaration had stated "Beautiful People Keep Our City Beautiful" - this syncronicity would have meant something completely different.
Tillerman said…
Janice: You make reference to Paul Theroux's book "The Happy Isles of Oceania" which I have read. The kayak he used was a Klepper kayak which is the Rolls Royce of collapsible Kayaks. He makes very little reference in the book to his kayak but there is much of interest to New Zealanders as there is a great chapter where he meets David Lange (a former NZ prime minister) and another where he crosses swords with a past lady NZ Governer General - a great read.

As for the inside passage from Seattle to Glacier bay - it need not be completed in kayaks, it can be sailed in small boats where you are able to anchor in water deep enough to get a decent nonbearworrying nights sleep.
Keep a bed free I may be coming your way some time, we Kiwis are intrepid travellers :-)
VenDr said…
Thanks Janice. You may yet have a little gaggle of Kiwis descending on you with odd looking backpacks.We'll give you plenty of warning of our arrival, of course. We'll phone from the airport.
In the case of the synchronicity thing, Tillerman, it does seem that that one has meaning. You were dwelling on an old hurt and the universe tells you the path to freedom from it: give it up, toss it in the bin.
How do you explain it to yourself? Did your brain/sensory system unconsciously notice the sign and then bring to mind the memory that the sign provoked before drawing your attention to it? Or was God rigging the cards? Either way, it was a message you needed. Either way the great forces of the universe were at work.
Tillerman said…
The sequence of events is interesting. Christine said looking at me wryly "perhaps we should visit (said lady) what do you think?" I then recalled the lady and her house as we continued walking, then at the point where I rememebered what she said - in that second - I saw the rubbish bin. So in this case there was a lead up to the point of the syncronicity.

In other cases I think it is an interesting point you make - in the nano second of the two related events - which bit comes first? the environmental sign and / or incident or the memory?

Your advice is of course wise and correct in this case - throw the incident in the bin and move on - forgiveness is healthy for oneself as well as others.
VenDr said…
Yes, it's when the alignment of events is outside of our control that it becomes truly odd: You talk, and simultaneously Murray emails. Christine speaks and you see the sign. I think it was Goswami who talked of truth bursting into the universe like light. Think of a light being turned on in a house and it leaks out of the house through whatever holes are available: so the truth moves through several seemingly unrelated points simultaneously
Tillerman said…
Thankyou for mentioning Amit Goswanmi,Phd. I have three unread books of his by my bed - I take your reference as a reminder to read them, NOT as a syncronistic event coinciding with Christines exhortation this morning to read the f#$f@%f^ books I have already got before ordering any more from F%$#^%@# Amazon Dot Com, (she makes reference here to that hauntingly beautiful offshore warehouse from whence comes glory heaped upon glory in little brown boxes, the key to the warehouse being a little plastic card, oh bliss). :-)