I was editing a passage in my novel CONDUCT IN QUESTION, the first in THE OSGOODE TRILOGY. The villainous Florist was about to march down the stairs to kill the young man, Donnie, hiding in the cloakroom. The boy had soaked the stair carpet with gasoline and was about to set it on fire. Would that, I debated, cause the impressive explosion of flames I had described? Who could give me advice on pyrotechnics? Moments later, when the doorbell rang, I was stunned to find two firemen on my doorstep. Once I convinced them of my innocent intent, they told me the stairwell would “blow up real good.”
And that is synchronicity! Which we’ve all experienced in our lives. Remember the time you were thinking for days of a long-lost friend, and then suddenly he appeared at your door? Such experiences take our breath away and make us think we are all connected in some warm cosmic soup!
But what is synchronicity? Of course, it’s a coincidence, which is meaningful to you, the person whose breath is stolen away. It can’t be explained by cause and effect. As far as anyone knows, you [or someone else] didn’t do anything to cause the event. What coincides? My psychic state [wondering how to test out the blaze without actually setting one] and the event [the arrival of the perfect people to answer my question].
Carl Jung [the Swiss psychiatrist] is the ‘father’ of synchronicity, in that he experienced, studied, and developed theories about it. One of his female patients had a highly rationalistic attitude toward life and was consequently resistant to much psychotherapy. As she was recounting a strange dream about receiving a golden scarab [a costly piece of gold jewelry] there was a persistent tapping on the window behind Jung. Opening the window, the doctor reached out and brought in a large scarab beetle. The appearance of the ‘real’ beetle at the very moment she was recounting her dream punctured her rational, intellectual approach to life and permitted her to carry on successfully with her therapy.
Some people think synchronicity operates throughout the universe as a grand ‘cosmic force.’ Have you seen the new movie by Mel Gibson, Apocalypto? In the Mayan culture, it was understood that vast synchronistic forces governed the universe and were related to the motion of the planets, stars, and galaxies. Does this seem far-fetched in our ‘modern’ times? Certainly not! In the book, Cosmos and Psyche, by Richard Tarnas, published in 2006, synchronicity and the influence of the planets are impressively linked.
My experience and fascination with synchronicity caused me to devise two stunningly ‘coincidental’ events in my novel, FINAL PARADOX, which is the second in THE OSGOODE TRILOGY. Harry Jenkins, the protagonist, is an estates lawyer in Toronto, Canada. For years, Harry and his father have been estranged. When his sister died at the age of twelve, Harry’s father, crippled with grief, withdrew almost completely from the family. And Harry, now in his late forties and childless, cannot understand how the loss of his sister could have so horribly affected his father. Now his father lies near death in hospital. Harry is in the Quiet Room of the hospital, mourning the lost years between them and wishing he knew how to pray. Suddenly a woman and her husband enter the room. Hysterical with grief over the murder of her son, the woman screams and curses until, finally, a doctor sedates her. Immediately, Harry understands the wrenching agony of the loss of a child. At the very moment of his asking, he has the answer. Harry is transformed by the sense of deep connection to forces he only dimly perceives.
So, how do such events actually happen? A study of quantum physics leads us to believe that our distinction between our inner and outer world is illusory and that we do, in fact, swim in a cosmic soup in which there is no distinction between the soup and us. And so, our psychic energy may really influence or ’cause’ events in the ‘outer’ world. Consequently, in a moment highly charged with concentrated emotion, Harry Jenkins asks for and receives his answer most dramatically.