Thursday, September 21, 2006

Betina explores Synchronicity

My family has always acknowledged that there are occasionally strange matches or instances of mirroring of circumstances and details in our lives. At first we called it "funny coincidences." Then we called it just "coincidences." And somewhere along the way we learned that other people had discovered it too, and given it a name: "Synchronicity." Similar happenings, details, meetings, or interactions that unexpectedly "match" or "coincide."

My earliest memories of this were when my family moved from one state to another and, oddly, my letter sweater from my previous school (a big red "N") and the school mascot (wildcats) matched perfectly. But it had happened earlier with my parents: both of their grandmothers were named "Pollyanna." (Okay, one Polly Anna, and the other Pollyanna, but close enough!) Interestingly, when I got married, my grandmother and my husband's grandmother had the same name: "Alma." A skeptic might say that was a generational thing-- that there were probably a lot of Alma's in that generation. What are the odds that my current fiance's grandmother was Alma, too? Well, she was.

Odder still was a meeting we had with a pediatric heart specialist who was filling in at our local Urgent Care when our son was young. He had driven up from the Mayo cCinic just one night to fill in and listened to Zeb's chest during an asthma attack and declared he had a heart murmur. Three years later, we had Zeb back in Urgent Care for another asthmatic attack (hadn't been there since the first time!) and lo, and behold-- the same cardiac specialist was on duty and made the same diagnosis. He told us he hadn't been there since that first episode when we'd seen him. He remembered us and was as astonished as we were. Afterward we took Zeb to a heart doctor, who couldn't seem to find the murmur this doc said he had. Still feel a little uneasy about that, after 16 years.

Ever gone halfway across the country on vacation and walked into a department store to find someone you know from home shopping there? Living in Minnesota, I had flown to Florida and driven down to Ft. Myers on vacation. I walked into Saks and found my mother's long-term neighbor and dear family friend at the jewelry counter! Neither of us had ever been to Ft. Myers before! Did it mean anything? I have no clue.

But I do find myself taking note of these coincidences and sometimes letting them influence the decisions I make. I see them as nudges from the Universe. Nods in the right direction.

Sometimes, they're just something to smile about. Like the fact that my beautiful new granddaughter "Kate" was born at 7:37 pm on Monday. (Hurray!!!) Interestingly, her mother, my daugher-in-law, was also born exactly at 7:37 pm. Hmmmm. Wonder what that means. If anything.

Maybe all it means is that we humans always look for meaning, for the truth behind the reality. Maybe they come to mean what we need them to mean. Or maybe the Creator or the Universe just throws them in for FUN.

What about you? Had any coincidences that have left an impact on your life or caused you to wonder what was behind it all? Have you ever let an instance of "synchronicity" guide your decision process? How did it turn out?


Debra Dixon said...


I am such a believer in synchronicity!

It doesn't happen in my life with the same specificity as yours. My kind of synchronicity is more the "paths converging at just the right time" variety. Opportunities that could only be taken advantage of if the right circumstances occur.

Example: Back when some well-established published authors and I decided to begin the Southern small press--BelleBooks, we wanted to secure wholesale distribution but the big wholesalers are just terribly unimpressed by small presses. While at at big regional trade meeting, I had a meeting with the largest US wholesaler. At the same trade show happened to be one of my biggest fiction fans who also happened to *work* for that wholesaler now in their bookseller support division. She found out I had a meeting and then made sure the Ingram buyer knew "who we were."

Even so he reluctantly gave us his agreement to look at our books see what he could do to get a small two-book (at that time) publisher a spot in Ingram's vendor roster but he also said it'd be so much better if we had something like a chain order to substantiate our sales.

We'd never had a true "chain order" intended to supply something like Barnes and Noble stores in a region.

When I got home from the trade show guess what was on my fax machine? A chain order from Barnes & Noble with instructions that they would need the name of our wholesaler to place the order.

What are the odds of that???

Helen Brenna said...

As I read your post, Betina, I couldn't help but come up with examples of coincidences in my own life. My husband's always saying that while I grew up in a small town and he grew up in Minneapolis, I know so many more people. I'm constantly running into folks from my home town.

I think a big part of it's our need to connect in this huge, unfriendly world. We're looking for ways to feel as if we belong, we fit, we're surrounded by community.

At least that's what I seem to feel every time these kind of coincidences happen to me.

Maybe it's just proof that our world really is connected more than we think.

Betina Krahn said...

Wow, Deb, now that's a story! Talk about meant-to-be! I'd call that synchronicity deluxe. How does that make you feel? A bit more connected in the world?

I'm with you, Helen. . . that's what the coincidences do for me. . . make me feel connected and more at home in the world.

They also make me feel like something bigger is in operation beneath the perceptable surface of day-to-day reality. I don't know what that something is, but it's sort of reassuring. Maybe it's strings. . . you know, the string theory of existence. . . that all matter is composed of small vibrating strings that relate to all of the other vibrating strings.

So, it's all tied together somehow.


Betina, who loves bad puns.

Debra Dixon said...


It makes me feel totally connected and somewhat fearful of throwing a pebble in the water! (g) All those ripples, donchaknow?

I would love to have some time to study string theory. All of that stuff fascinates me but I've yet to have the time to truly understand the field. Whenever my path brushes with anything that touches on the field of quantum and theoritical physics I find myself nodding my head and swearing I'm going to learn more, but I haven't yet.

I wonder if "For Dummies" has a book?

Helen Brenna said...

I'd like to think there's someone pulling strings. The concept of no one being in charge scares the hell out of me. So go ahead and throw those pebbles, Deb. Our string holder knows you're gonna do it!!

This is a bit off topic, but have you ever seen the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow? It's an alternate universe type story.

Something happens in "the time/space continuum" and her life splits. On one side, she makes the subway home early and finds her boyfriend in bed with a woman. On the other side, she misses the subway and never knows her boyfriend is cheating.

I'm always wondering how life would be different if I missed that green light back there, or got stuck longer than necessary in a checkout line. You know?

Kathleen Eagle said...

I liked "Sliding Doors"--love that "what if" game. How else would ever get a book going? I mentioned "Heights" last night--no connection theme-wise; just wanted to mention again for interesting characters. I think it's an indie.

I don't know if I believe in coincidence except maybe little things. What I do believe in is free will. Stuff lines up or gets lined up and presented, and you choose. The way I ended up in South Dakota on June 8 (my mother's birthday) 1969 was so illogical and so far from the plan I'd made that I have to think there was some force at work against everyone's "better" judgment. I was engaged (no ring, but formally announced to my parents about a month before) to a law student whom I'd known for years. He was the right choice. But I had come across a pamphlet in the college placement office--wasn't looking for a pamphlet or placement or anything that I remember in particular, but I have a photographic memory of my hand going directly to that pamphlet on the rack and nothing else--and I applied for a summer volunteer program for absolutely no reason since I had other plans for the summer. When I was selected, there was no doubt that I would go, much to everyone's surprise including, when I thought about it, mine. I was even awarded a completely unexpected stipend equal to what I'd made working the summer before. So there I was, June 8, 1969, and there he was--another photographic memory--working a horse in a corral at the historic mission school where I would be working for the summer.

When I was maybe 6 or 8 I remember asking my aunt something about marriage--how do you know or some such--and she said, "Somewhere in the world there's a little boy growing up right now, and someday when you're grown up you'll meet him. But just think of it. He's out there somewhere right now!"

So he was in SD and I was in VA, and the synchronicity must have been at work on both sides. I've tried to compare notes with him, but he says nobody ever told him there was a little girl growing up somewhere just for him, and if they had, it would have scared the crap out of him.

Betina Krahn said...

Great story, Kathy. I don't think guys generally think of predestined love. . . or predestined anything when they're younger. They like to think they're making their own way in the world.

After my own experiences, I'm not sure there is a pre-ordained plan anywhere, including for love. Twenty years ago you would have gotten a very different answer from me.

I think that choice is spread before us on a daily basis, but I also think we can get nudges as to which choices might be better for us than others. Don't know where it comes from. But the cosmologists say there is structure of a sort even in chaos.

Comforting, somehow.

Hey-- does it qualify as a coincidence that I happen to get a check just when Macy's is having a blow-out sale?

lois greiman said...

Fascinating topic. There are so many paths, each chosen at a different time for a different reason. Maybe if Kathy had seen that pamphlet an hour later she wouldn't have picked it up. What then? No little black eyed Eagle children to grace the earth. I think about that a false step and my own children wouldn't exist. Life would be so much less.

People talk about predestination, but it doesn't make sense to me. We have free will. We use it. Sometimes we even use it wisely. The rest of the time...well...I guess we just sigh and watch the ripples.

Betina Krahn said...

Lois, you are so poetic.
Sigh and watch the ripples.

Yep. That's what we do.



Kathleen Eagle said...

I like that...sigh and watch the ripples...or the ever-lovin' elipses... Now, here's a bit of woo woo: I tell that story about my journey west and then get a call from the college friend with whom I made that trip in '69. She's in town here for a meeting, and Clyde and I are about to zip over to the hotel to see her in a few minutes. It's late, but, heck, some calls are sychronistic.

Lois's comment about how a few minutes one way or another might change everything--I think about that a lot. If you'd conceived a month later, would there be no daughter, but instead maybe a third son who doesn't exist? Or what if my dad hadn't come home from college in February after my parents had eloped on Christmas Eve? They weren't supposed to get married. He wasn't supposed to come home until Easter. She definitely wasn't supposed to get pregnant. But I'm damn sure supposed to be here. Do those who are supposed to be born get born no matter what?

anne frasier said...

great topic, betina! i've noticed that some things i think of as amazingly synchronic seem to mean nothing people not involved in the sync. i'm not saying i wasn't fascinated by your stories, but i've noticied the impact is lacking with some people. almost like telling somebody a really cool dream you had -- and they absolutely cannot connect. so does the person involved feel a much bigger jolt and much bigger belief -- because she wants to believe -- or because of an actual brain tickle.

Betina Krahn said...

Anne! So good to have you back! And a great comment.

Maybe these things only mean something to the recipient for a good reason. . . maybe they're meant to be a cosmic nudge and without being who you are, in that place and time, and having that peculiar set of memories, it doesn't mean anything.

Only one person at a time feels a nudge, and that's the way it's meant to be. Personal and intimate. To let you know the Universe is paying attention, that you're known, that you matter.

Okay. . . woo, woo to the Nth power. But how cool is it that Kathy got a call from someone who'd share that time in her life just after she'd been talking about it?

Synchronicity. Alive and well.