A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about spirit/totem animals where I started with a story about visiting a colleague whose husband died last summer and how her story of his totem animal stuck with me for weeks, prompting my own reflections on what animal aligns with my personality and representing something I have believed in for years: synchronicity. I first learned of the idea when I read a book I referenced in another entry: Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Obviously, synchronicity, as discussed by Carl Jung, is a complex concept. I do not mean to disrespect that complexity in a brief blog entry like this one; instead, I intend to show my respect for it by raising it as a topic worth exploring, starting with what it means to me.
Since being introduced to synchronicity well over a decade ago, I have thought of it as a way of discerning meaning from the seemingly random things that happen in our daily lives. Some people have distilled this thought–or oversimplified it according to some–by saying that things happen for a reason. We just need to figure out that reason. I had heard of totem animals for years, but last summer’s reintroduction came at a time when I was trying to figure out a few things, what steps I wanted to take in regard to particular parts of my life. The reading I did on the topic and what I uncovered taught me a few things that helped me decide on a few of those steps. I recognize that the lack of detail (since it’s so personal and, frankly, irrelevant to the point of this post) may be confusing, but I am basically saying that this topic came along at the right time for me.
This is not the first time I have experienced synchronicity. In 2006, I won a fellowship to take part in a summer program where I was supposed to gain access to particular archives. However, when I arrived, I found out that the archives I needed were going to be closed for the entire month of my stay for renovation. At first, I was very confused. I was living in a city away from my husband for a month to work on my research, but a key part of that project was not available to me after all. Then, the next day, I was checking my email, and one of the listservs to which I belong had a CFP seeking essays for a collection about a play I had taught the previous semester. An essay on that play had absolutely nothing to do with the research I had planned for the summer program, but I needed a project. I wrote the essay, planning to submit it to a journal if the collection’s editors did not want it for the book. But they did want it, and it appeared in print a couple of years later. I would have ignored it in just about any other context, but I needed a project, and it appeared right before me.
When I talk about this topic, a lot of people roll their eyes or smile politely, often believing that coincidence is just coincidence. Others, though, have immediately started describing synchronous examples of their own. How about you? Have you experienced synchronicity in your professional or personal life? Do a few examples come to mind even if you have never thought about it before? Let us know in the comments. And keep your ears, eyes, and mind open to synchronicity that might be happening right in front of you!