Reply To: On Synchronicity and Meaning
While Marianne is preparing the second part of her excellent set up to this extremely wide ranging topic on the relationship of synchronicity with meaning has with existence I going to take a bit of a detour and add: story, intuition, and mystical to the mix by recounting an experience I had a few years back that pulled me into the meaning of timelessness of existence. (Mouthful huh?)
By this I’m asking the reader to imagine looking back over their life to the people, things, and relationships they have had and within the context of a reunion of old friends considering what the impact of such a moment might have on them within the context of how they might view their own life. (Another mouthful; hmmm; what is he asking?)
So let’s for a moment consider “why” this idea of meaningful coincidence; this mystical: “by-chance-occurrence” that you encounter unexpectedly out of nowhere; that’s known at least in some instances as: “synchronicity” should happen to “you”. So now I’m going to share a story that rocked my world in a way I could never have imagined and still astonishes me.
(From: “The Story” thread in the old retired CoaHO back in 2014.)
“When I left this discussion the other day I went to hangout with a group of old friends who have been getting together once a month to reminisce about our youth and kind of reconnect. It’s a small handful really; that meet at the same place where we all use to gather. And during that period 4 decades ago it came to kind of represent a symbol of the times for the city back-in-the-day; where once dozens of young people; then later sometimes even hundreds collected at the ” in place ” or ” hot-spot ” to be immersed within a festive atmosphere that provided the chance to seek adventure and life-possibilities. Many cities had a place like this; and yes there were drugs and the usual hair styles and clothing one associates with that era; but it served as more of a refuge and not the sort of wild ” bacchanal ” that was the impression given by the media for hippie groups of the time; And we were a rather free-spirited and rebellious bunch that were exploring the social boundaries of a conservative straight-laced community that wanted things kept as they were. Social change was in the air; and ” the times they were a-changing ” as the saying from one of Bob Dylan’s songs went. And what’s interesting about this gathering now that we are starting to evolve into the ” Autumn of our lives ” is that it provides a kind of long-range retrospect for us that gives one a sense of how the life-choices that you made worked out; not only for you but your friends as well. The first one of these events that started this regular get together had a very ( mystical ) moment as you will see for at it’s conclusion it was almost as if there was an otherworldly presence involved.
Our gathering took place at a replica of the Greek Parthenon on the steps where we use to rendezvous and it was during a ” cultural arts festival ” this happened. And we were there surrounded by thousands of other folks in the park; ( complete with bands and booths that had absolutely nothing to do with us ); while trying to navigate to our little spot to meet and recognize each other; now sporting greying hair and all the attributes that age bestows with meds and walkers and bags of assorted foods and beverages to share. As the faces and stories began to connect and wipe away the mental cobwebs of confusion; the laughter and flow of conversation mixed old times with our new life realities and some of the former bonds began to restore themselves and the old sense of familiarity returned. The minutes became hours and the glow of the afternoon was all to soon about to pass when one of the group asked for a special moment to gather around at the other end of the steps which was our special spot. ( Then he told us his tale and what he wanted us to do ).
A lot had happened over the last 40 years and one of our friends had died. The story went that when he had passed his ashes had been given to this fellow since he wanted no burial and no real instructions for where his ashes were to be spread. They had been kept all these years in a drawer for safe keeping until the right time, place, and moment presented itself and he would know what to do. Of course none of us but our friend were aware of any of this and he said for some strange reason remembered ” The Urn ” as he was about to leave his house. So as we were gathering a small group of much younger folks; ( about the same age as we were back then had been watching and were intrigued by the incense and our makeshift ceremony we were in the midst of performing and very respectfully asked to join in. As we pause for a moment of silence and the poured ashes drifted into the wind you suddenly were overcome with this feeling that this was exactly what was suppose to happen and the way it would have been planned for it was one of his favorite places and we were all there to see him off. And as we talked about this we looked at our new young companions and explained who he was; for a short instant it felt as though perhaps he was there with us and had been honored and that a torch had been passed of youth’s promise of adventure.
I thought about the poignancy of that moment for days after that and the odds against it’s mystery ever happening. I don’t recall how we were told this fellow had died and we were not necessarily extra close friends; but everything seemed so right the way it had all unfolded being the ” Free Spirit ” that he was. And although the times were so very different back then and so much has happened over the years I like to think that each of us in our own way have lived much of the promise of our moments there and found our way through our lives; though who can really say otherwise since our stories are not yet finished.
So to close my story there is one last thing I am reminded of when looking over my life that Joseph Campbell’s work has helped me try and come to know. Joseph mentions that the authorship that composes one’s life comes out of their own intent; and Carl Jung tells us that through the various life stages we tend to look at things from an ever-evolving point-of-view. And as Clemsy suggests: ” We are who we are at the moment we engage “. But as Cindy’s work with Jung has helped me to see; it is the self’s journey toward ( wholeness ) that we are seeking; along with Joseph’s reminder: ” that it is the privilege of a lifetime to become and realize who you truly are “. We are all on that journey in one form or another I think; and to be surrounded by others of like mind is truly one of the best things that one could wish for.”
Now I could go on and on about what this is suppose to mean concerning the nature of existence; but my point has to with “synchronicity” so I’ll just mention what blew me away was I was left with this question of: “why did this happen and why was I there to witness it?” All I can say is Joseph mentions that every now and then you may stumble upon this sense of “profound mystery” that myths are the vehicle of. I barely knew this fellow and had no prior knowledge this event was going to take place. But what it did impress upon me was the sense of asking myself: “What questions does this experience raise to me about the meaning of my own life in the grand scheme of things?; “What does this tell me about all these big questions that people ponder?” And when I think about things that happen out of nowhere; things that seem to tell me or ask me or pull me in a certain direction for some unknown or coincidental circumstance that seem to point in a certain direction this is what I come away with.
Now I’m still trying to locate another even better example of meaningful chance that had a huge impact on my life in a much more explainable way; and if I can find it I’ll post it later after someone else has had a chance to jump in on this topic. I think Shaaheda has something she is working on to contribute; and I know Marianne still has more to add on this as well.
Marianne; your setup was a great startup for this topic. Well done and looking forward to more!