Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Ah, coincidence! In the Artist's Way, Julia Cameron describes synchronicity, which she defines as a series of events that are more than mere coincidences, but rather the creative universe expanding to meet a need. Skeptical? I was.

I am a scientist, trained to accept things when the evidence supports them, to test null hypotheses in an effort to reject them. To believe that the universe (or god, choose your term) would somehow meet my needs through a series of coincidences sounded, well, unscientific, to say the least.

She suggests that the more scientific-minded do an experiment, writing out a list of items they would like to have and paying attention to how quickly they come into their possession. But as my husband (a far more rigorous scientist than I) pointed out: synchronicity only works because we pay attention to the coincidences. A true scientist, he says, would write out a list of things they don't want and see what happens.

Finding patterns is what our brains do to help us make sense of the world. Giving  coincidences meaning elevates them in our mind. A wholly unscientific, yet very human, way to behave.

Perhaps it is the act of putting ourselves into an open, "approach" frame of mind that allows these coincidences to take on new meaning. When we are looking for something, we may well be more likely to find it.
Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind.
So said Louis Pasteur, the eminent microbiologist whose experiments provided data in support of germ theory. A highly respected scientist whose discoveries greatly enhanced the quality of life for... well... all of us.

As for me, the more I pay attention, the more I discover little synchronicitous events taking place. And to tell the truth, they feel good. It's nice to have the sense that some unseen force is helping you along (whether it truly is or not). 

So what is synchronicity? Coincidence? Yes. But meaningful coincidence. The kind that helps us to find an alternative path or solve a problem. We can discount it if we choose, but if it helps us to feel more whole, to feel as though we have some control over the direction our lives take, why not enjoy it for what it provides? Pay attention to coincidences for a while and see what happens. What examples do you find in your life?

No comments:

Post a Comment