I wrote the other day that I “don’t believe in coincidence”… but perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I think coincidence is usually the wrong word. Synchronicity is the word I almost always apply to those situations when “coincidence” seems meaningful. Which is almost always. I like how my Sponsor frames it: “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous.”
Moments of synchronicity often involve people-connections, and even more often involve the repeat appearance of an idea from multiple sources in a short space of time. I often figure it’s God giving me a nudge when synchronous “signs” point me in a certain direction. I’ve learned to pay attention to moments of synchronicity.
A few years back, Keoni and I were driving to a potluck dinner in our Prius (before it got repo’d!) and encountered one of the hazards of hybrid-driving: the car so seldom needed gas that we got out of the habit of watching the fuel gauge… So we ran out of gas and ended up hiking along the side of the freeway to buy a gas-can at the next exit.
A kindly soul pulled over to pick us up, and as we chatted with him, we somehow ended on the topic of our restaurant-dream–which was at the forefront of our collective mind due to a string of synchronous circumstances relating to the prospect. As it turns out, this gentleman had several restaurant-spaces available for lease, and some great ideas about small-business funding. That conversation was the catalyst for us to convert our dream to reality. Three months later, we opened Kana Girl’s Hawai’ian BBQ. That’s one of those synchronicity-stories, when God put the right person in our path at the right time–who knows, maybe that’s even why we ran out of gas. God works in mysterious ways, right?
The topic of synchronicity was brought to mind last week by a school field trip with my son, and a handful of (smaller-scale, but intriguing) bits of synchronicity during the day. I was driving Christian to his “job-shadow” day when he piped up (apropos of nothing) with the description of a dead owl that has been hanging by its tangled talons from a power-wire behind his dad’s house for almost a year. “You’ll never guess what my blog title was yesterday,” I responded, bemused by the synchronicity. “It was ‘How to Bury an Owl.'”
The job-shadowing expedition itself had a bit of “coincidence” already tied to it. Christian attends an elementary school near downtown Boise, and I live nearly forty minutes out of town, next to a State Park and a Fish & Game hatchery. Christian had been assigned, of all places, to the fish hatchery right next to our house. He was tickled by the coincidence, and immediately tagged me as his driver.
His literal mind enjoys the how-things-are field of science–and he has also been an Idaho fisherman from an early age–so even aside from it being right next to our house, the hatchery job-shadow was a perfect match for him. The ladies showing him around the genetics lab, energized by his interest and knowledge, lamented the fact that they didn’t have a whole day to show him all the cool stuff they do. When they mentioned the possibility of volunteering at the hatchery so they could show him in depth, he perked right up. I collected contact information to set up summer volunteering for him–and Keoni has already been shopping online for a lab coat in his size.
The real coincidence-kicker was the contact information I collected for Christian’s summer volunteer prospect. Our contact turns out to be a guy I dated in college. I mentioned (in my TMI-award post of embarrassing stories) the time I dated an identical twin who didn’t TELL me there were two of him on campus, resulting in a comedy-of-errors until I saw the pair of them together… This is the guy. Naturally, it was a fisheries class where we met—and the Lab-Ladies thought my twins-story about their “genetics geek” was uproariously funny. I haven’t seen him for almost two decades, but now we discover that he works around the corner from my house, and he’s the guy who can set up Christian’s summer opportunity.
When I say I’ve “learned to pay attention” to synchronicity, it’s often a matter of being open to suggestion. I’m a Planner by nature, but Life has taught me that God’s plans are better than mine. (Go figure.) It was a tough lesson to learn–but when I find myself swimming really hard upstream, trying to reach some goal that I’ve set, that’s often a sign that I need to pause and reconsider that goal. There may be some reasons why the river is running the opposite direction from my attempted swim. “Let go and let God,” my Sponsor reminds me when I’m swimming for all I’m worth and going nowhere.
The best illustration I can think of is the first time Keoni took me for a motorcycle ride… His A.A. Sponsor let us take his Harley out for an afternoon, and being unaccustomed to riding, I was unconsciously trying to steer the thing with my butt. When I finally relaxed and just let the bike (and its experienced driver) take me through the turns and the leans, Keoni could tell the difference in his ability to handle the bike. When I stopped trying to “swim upstream”–when I stopped trying to control!–that’s when the ride smoothed out.
When my Sponsor tells me to “let go and let God,” she doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do anything for myself, or that I should sit back and expect God’s gifts just to fall into my lap. Maybe I need to pay attention to the floating objects dropped in the water around me and build my own raft from them–but in the end I’ll be enjoying a leisurely float with the current instead of paddling like crazy against it. Things fall into place when I stop swimming and stay open to the suggestions brought to me by synchronicity.