“Many miles away, something crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish loch.” – Synchronicity, The Police
Sometimes I fall asleep listening to AM radio. Knocks me right out. A few months ago, I awoke sometime after midnight with the cord wrapped twice around my neck and hanging off the side of my bunk. Coast to Coast was on. The guest was psychotherapist and quantum theorist Mel Schwartz. He was talking about synchronicity. Specifically about the tsunami of 2004, the humanitarian calamity it wrought and how, although it claimed roughly 230,000 human lives, there were surprisingly few animal bodies found in the aftermath. He attributed this to a sixth sense long atrophied in human beings due to lack of use. He went on to say that at the exact same time that he was typing an essay about this phenomenon on the other side of the globe, a bird flew into his room and perched on his chair. Synchronicity.
As I staggered to the bathroom, half-listening, half-asleep, an elusive plot point from my latest novel, Sticks & Stones, suddenly clicked into place. (If you’ve read it, it’s the part about the drone.) Now I was wide awake. It dawned on me that had I not fallen asleep with the radio on, I might have never awoken to receive this pivotal building block of my then-novel-in-progress. The fact that this occurred while the dude on the radio was discussing synchronicity really blew me away.
Coincidences … chance happenings or mystical experiences? I once heard someone refer to them as “God winks.” A 2015 Esquire article divides them into four distinct categories:
∞ Synchronicity – Two unrelated events collide in a meaningful way. (See above)
∞ Seriality – A series of seemingly unrelated events lead to a noteworthy event. You usually take the bus to work, but you spilled your morning coffee on your shirt, which made you miss the 7:15. You almost called a cab, but decided to try Uber. The driver is attractive. You ask her out. Two years later, you’re married and expecting.
∞ Simulpathity – The simultaneous experience of another person’s distress. This one usually happens with twins, life-long couples, and parents with their children.
∞ Serendipity – Something unexpected and beneficial arises from being at the right place at the right time. Phizer researchers testing a drug called sildenafil as a treatment for angina notice a curious side effect: erections. Eureka! Viagra.
Which is your favorite?