(This old post on synchronicity was from my old blog and it’s just been sitting around. I realized it’s kind of relevant to my work on a short story – I had a realization the other day that connected an old understanding of my writing process to a new set of information. In the same week, I forwarded some information to a friend who found it relevant to something she was working on – but hadn’t considered in this particular way – and it all congealed around writing she’s been doing and other creative and life endeavors. Very timely for both of us. Anyway, I thought I’d resurrect this, just for the heck of it)
Like most people, I’ve experienced synchronicity in my life. It’s a mind-blown moment with meaningfulness revealed out of previously-unconnected, now suddenly-relevant events, sights, experiences or occurrences.
Synchronicity requires attention – to details and connections. For what is synchronicity without being noticed? It is nothing without awareness, without a participant.
Sometimes I wish for synchronicity, for a sign to counteract the wishing. Of course the wishing is itself a sign that I long for connection with deep meaning that seems to be missing on a daily basis.
It could be suggested that I am simply blind to that which I seek, that it’s there, all along. All the synchronous events, the interlinking meaningfulnesses.
I like to hear about synchronicity at play in people’s lives, it reminds me that indeed, something must be there, this life really is strangely mysterious, and that something might, sometime, be revealed to me.
Some deny value in attributing meaning to synchronous events. Generally this opinion seems to stem from those who uphold a materialistic world view that suggests only material reality, what can be materially proven, has validity.
But I find closed-mindedness distasteful, no matter what costume it wears and would rather take a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude. After all, as we’re only a fraction of the universe connected to but not comprehending the whole, I don’t think any human, or even the sum of all human knowledge, knows it all.
I would suggest this: there is no sensory or perceptive organ or ability that is unnecessary.
Nature doesn’t create superfluous perceiving capacities. Organisms have the ability to detect ultrasound because there is ultrasound. Humans hear at 12 to 20,000 hertz, but other animals rely on information transferred at lower and higher frequencies. Some organisms can see (utilizing visible light) because information is transmitted in that way. Plant roots can sense soil nutrients outside their immediate vicinity and then grow toward them whereas we stick our fingers in soil and know nothing more than moisture level and basic physical composition (rocky, sandy, clay, etc). Just because we don’t have certain perceptive capabilities doesn’t mean that things outside our perception don’t exist.
Likewise, I think that humans, being so good at finding meaning, at detecting pattern in the seemingly chaotic, have this capacity simply because meaning can be found, and patterns do exist. I doubt there would be meaning-finders in a world without meaning.
My attempt to organize my thoughts on synchronicity was inspired by Matt Cardin’s post on Liminality, Synchronicity, and the Walls of Everyday Reality. Also, this is tied to a Ribbonfarm post on legibility and the catastrophe of enforcing an oversimplification of patterns on the world. I think a lot of problems might be attributed to not understanding complex patterns.
I wonder how one’s experience of synchronicity might be different if one were more aware of complex, dynamic patterns at play. Also, how much of meaning making, then, is really just simplification? Akin to the Ribbonfarm-cited example of chaos being anxiety provoking, see this article about how unclear meaning compels us to search for more meaning.
Lately, I’m thinking about stories and how they relate to deep meaning (which I call Story) and would suggest that synchronicity can point to Story. I’m curious about synchronicities that have served to wake people up to a deeper meaning in their own lives, that pointed out a new direction or provided a chance to recommit and would love to hear about such experiences.
Recently a post over at Holly Lisle’s writing forums brought the topic up. ‘Is the Universe Rooting for You?‘ the original poster asked (free forum sign up required for access, sorry). And several proceeded to tell of ways that parts of stories clicked into place at a point where they seemed most stuck – due to ‘random’ events or information that came just at the right time.
I’m aware of the varieties of cognitive bias – and that I’ve engaged in some of those here. Synchronicity can’t be proven. There isn’t a thing to prove. Nonetheless, it can be perceived and it’s the perceptual experience that is most fascinating.