I don’t particularly believe in fate. I don’t believe in greater outside forces at work, positioning us here and there. I don’t believe “there is a reason for everything” and I’d not have a bumper sticker that said angels were on the lookout for me. I do believe in good and evil, in the ability of people to behave as both, but I’m not convinced of the higher realms of these ideas, i.e. heaven and hell. All of this said though, sometimes I cannot help but notice the strangest coincidences that give me pause and make me wonder if something or someone is trying to tell me something. Something is definitely telling me to pay attention.
This happened a few months ago in regards to a certain geographical location. The place came up a couple of times in random comments between my spouse and I. Weeks later, an opportunity presented itself that involved this city. Then, as I considered it over the next couple of months, it kept appearing at every turn. Here was something – a city – that I really had never thought of a great deal in my life, suddenly showing up everywhere. I’d see it on television. I’d pass a U-Haul van and invariably it would be the paneled artwork on the truck’s side. I’d order some odd little item or pick up something from the store, and lo and behold it was from this place. It was very strange. It was as if I was being told to think about this place, consider the opportunity, don’t just push it aside and ignore it. So I didn’t.
A similar thing happened again this morning, thus sparking this daily muse. A friend sent an email to me yesterday and in it she mentioned two things – well, more than that, but two that are pertinent to this line of thinking. The first was a reference to having more than one career. Simultaneously. She coined a really clever phrase to describe this situation that I will not repeat here because its cleverness is her creation and she can share it as she wishes. I readily admit that I covet her multi-career life. I’m a person with a number of different career aspirations, but convinced I lack the talent (or discipline) to pursue them at the same time. I have chosen instead the “successive career” model, currently finding myself in career #3… or maybe #4. Depends on how I define “career” at the time. Actually, that being the case, I could be on career #12, but this is all really beside the point. The point is that my friend shared this thought and then, this morning, I was reading David Brooks’ latest book, The Social Animal, and read, “… everybody should have two careers, two perspectives for looking at the world, each of which provides insight into the other.” The character thinking this in his book is a teacher by day, singer-songwriter by night. Simultaneous careers that are equally important in her health and wholeness.
The second thing that my friend wrote was, “You’re solid; success won’t rock you. Allow yourself to evolve (stay in synch).” Again, in the same book this same morning, I read, “Thumos* included the desire for eternal fame – to attract admiration and to be worthy of admiration in a way that was deeper than mere celebrity. … Thumos is the drive to rise up to those heights. It is the dream of the perfect success, when all that is best within oneself blends with all that is eternal in the universe in perfect synchronicity.”
Now “synchronicity” – or synchronize – is perhaps not the most unusual word and the odds of hearing it in daily conversation are probably not that long, but it’s also not a word you see in front of you, shared with you in the words of authors known and unknown, in the matter of a few hours. And seeing it in similar context, somewhat saying to me a similar message, prompts one of those moments when I think that maybe this is something I should turn my attention towards. Especially when it falls within the two pages of a book I’m reading, a passage that seems oddly connected with thoughts and feelings I’ve struggled with and shared in a few recent emails.
So did my own struggles make me read this passage in a particular way? Did having received the note yesterday, having those words marinating in my head, affect how I interpreted the ones of this morning? Are the thoughts of how we are who we are, in general, simply something that I’m always interested in, thus my chances of random encounters of similar ideas and words increased? Was my friend reading the same book? (I asked. The answer is no.) Is synchronicity a word I simply notice because it happens to be the name of the greatest rock album ever recorded?
Coincidence? I think… well, I don’t really know what I think. But I do think it’s interesting. And I’ll be paying attention to being in synch, and being open to multiple careers and interests, and evolving in a way that doesn’t lead me towards being less than I wish to be.
* Brooks gives this definition to the Greek word thumos, though I immediately looked in a half-dozen Greek textbooks that I own, along with several copies of the Greek New Testament, and can’t find it defined and or used as such. In these, it is said to mean “anger”, “rage”, “fury”, “intense feeling”, and even “heart”, but not “seeking attention”. Of course, I was engaged in this etymological pursuit when I was supposed to be getting ready for work. My time was limited and I will thus look more later.