I've always loved the movies where someone says, "Synchronize
watches!" A team of heroes would have to split up to do their
individual jobs, but to complete their common mission
successfully, they had to work in synchronicity. I think I must
have enjoyed that so much, because somewhere inside me I knew,
even as a kid, that that's how it is for all of us.
First documented in the academic world by the psychoanalyst Carl
Jung in 1928, synchronicity is the occurrence of coincidences
(events happening at the same time) that may not appear to be
related in any way, except that they are meaningful to us.
There are two aspects of events that place them in synchronicity
- the events that coincide (meaning they happen side-by-side in
time) and their meaning for us. A car drives by my window at the
exact moment that I write these words. The writing and the
driving happen at the same time, but I probably won't feel the
gratitude and awe I feel when touched by synchronicity. However,
if Deepak Chopra, who writes and speaks about synchronicity,
drives by at the same time I'm writing about the subject, it
would be very meaningful for me. I might feel I received a sign
that I was on the right track. I might even be able to run out
and ask a question that would be good for the article.
An important thing to note about synchronistic events is that
while two events are related by meaning, they are not related
causally - at least, not as we usually understand that. Neither
event causes the other, yet they are clearly related. Sometimes
a series of synchronicities brings about a beautiful
manifestation of love in action. For example:
The manager of a church bookstore was journaling prayerfully,
when she got an idea to donate books to a women's shelter, whose
location was a secret. When she called the shelter to set up
delivery of the books, the manager learned that a fellow
congregant volunteered there and could easily deliver the books.
The manager had not known this congregant before, so neither her
idea nor the congregant's volunteering caused each other, but
they were two small events in a larger event of service.
The manager got approval from her church and invited the
congregation to buy books to donate to the shelter. The response
was enormous. Not only did people donate money and buy books for
the shelter library, they also brought nice used books -
inspiration, self-help, parenting, and children's books. The
manager collected enough books for a small library, and the
volunteer delivered them.
A week or so later, the manager received a thank-you letter from
the director of the shelter that made the hair on the back of
her neck stand up. The director was very grateful for the
bookstore's "response" to recent events. A water pipe had burst,
causing extensive damage to the old women's shelter. Now, the
program was in a new shelter location, and the women were
especially grateful for their new library, because their old one
had been wiped out in the flood! The bookstore manager had not
known about this event, so the flood did not cause her idea. And
of course, her idea did not cause the flood that happened
several weeks earlier. It was as if God or the cosmos had
"synchronized watches" between the bookstore and the shelter!
Such is the beauty and mystery of synchronicity.