My wife Hilary placed on my writing desk the September 2016 edition of Oprah Magazine opened to an article written by a frequent contributor, Martha Beck. Here is a link to the article which also includes a short video of Oprah talking about the importance-the necessity-of believing in something bigger than ourselves. I know my manhood is opened up for ridicule by my fraternity in loss brothers for admitting I read Oprah—oh well.
Ms. Beck does a very nice job of breaking down into layman’s terms Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity, and differentiating synchronistic events from ordinary coincidence.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung had a term for meaningful coincidences: synchronicity. He wasn’t just talking about interesting surprises, like getting a lottery number that matches your birth date. Synchronicity is what happens when seemingly unrelated events coincide in improbable ways that have some sort of significance for you. Jung believed synchronicities were evidence of a unifying consciousness at play in the universe, creating physical manifestations of what’s happening in our psyche.
Here is her answer to the question, ‘Why do these things happen to me?’
I do think that something more than chance is at work in the universe. While reality usually babbles in the meaningless music of randomness, it sometimes speaks to us in a language we understand. Why? Maybe because our small consciousness is intimately bound up with consciousness writ large, and we may need a little nod from a force that’s greater and wiser than we are…consider the possibility that you could be connected to everything in the universe, and everything in the universe could be connected to you, and meaning flows between the two in a mysterious constant stream.
I’m very intrigued by the thought of this. Somehow the universe doesn’t seem so big.
Our family has been blessed with several synchronistic events, as I’m sure so have many of you. No one has a corner on that market.
Take for example our story of The Letter:
-In June of 1968 my Dad sends 18 year old me fresh out of a suburban Chicago high school to, of all places, Coalwood, West Virginia, to work on a construction job for the summer.
-I have a room in a boarding house in the tiny coal mining town. Emily Sue Buckberry, eight years older, is also staying in the same boarding house. Turns out she is one of Homer Hickam’s best friends since childhood and he would later write his memoir of growing up in Coalwood and starting a rocket club. His book Rocket Boys, made into the 1999 movie October Sky, would make Coalwood famous.
-Dad writes a letter to me within the first two weeks of that summer. I don’t remember ever getting or reading it.
-In August of 2008 our 24 year old son, Jimmy, is struck and killed by an automobile walking home from a party in the wee morning hours.
-Three months later, Emily Sue Buckberry calls me out of the blue. She found me on Google. There’s been no contact whatsoever since that summer. She tells me after I moved out of the clubhouse to go home, she walked by my room and found the letter from my Dad beside a wastebasket outside my room. She thought I tossed it out. She’s kept the letter for 40 years. She’s not exactly sure why she decided to call me now, on that particular day. I tell her about Jimmy and she is completely stunned. I don’t say anything about my dad, and she didn’t ask. I give her my home address.
-The Letter arrives on Saturday, November 8–Jimmy’s 25th birthday. What began as one of the darkest days in our grief was quickly filled with wonder, awe and some light. It was still a tough day.
The Letter—filled with my dad’s love and advice for his younger son–was the door opener for me to finally begin to heal from his suicide two years after he wrote that letter to me. Up until then I was angry and just wanted to forget him.
It was the first time I had concrete evidence there is a force that’s greater and wiser than we are, and that somehow, some way, my Dad—maybe with Jimmy’s help—had found a way to recruit Ms. Buckberry to help him connect with me through a physical manifestation—his letter. It started me thinking—hmmm—maybe death isn’t so final. We are still connected to our loved ones. Soon after, Jimmy made that crystal clear with his orchestration of many more synchronicities for us.
I remain overwhelmed by the last words of my dad’s letter—I will be around, any time you want me, I will be there—because I care more than you will ever know, my son. All love Dad.
He knew that day—Jimmy’s first birthday after his death— would be one of the hardest days of my life. He showed up right on time! He was there for his son who needed him and his love more than ever before.
My little brain can’t begin to comprehend the fact this was all set in motion 40 years earlier. How is that even possible?!
Some of you have shared with me your experiences with synchronicity that we have posted here on Write Me Something Beautiful; and there are others that I still need to write—which I promise I will do very soon. I would love to receive more of your stories that, of course, I will only share with your permission.
Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org