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Watching The Olympics Opening Ceremony

How Good Service Turned into a Speed Trip

Blurring the Line Between Fact and Fiction

How Creativity Keeps Moving On

How an Artist in the Kitchen Revealed my Inner 'Foody'

Synchronicity - an Everyday Sort of Magic

Does This Make You Laugh?

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The Third in my Triptych of Entries about Thought

Happily disconnected in Cornwall

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Synchronicity - an Everyday Sort of Magic


Walking home beside the River Thames from a gruelling one and a half hour dentist session I’m feeling battered, bruised and numb from two deep injections and two fillings. As I walk, head-hooded and bowed for protection from the driving wind, I’m thinking about what Dr Chaggar has just said to me before I left his surgery: "You need one more filling but it will only take..." At this exact moment I happen to look up and my gaze falls upon the words 45 minutes. (A poster is announcing the length of time a boat trip down the river will take). I am shaken out of my stupor with a sense of pleasant surprise because this is exactly the length of time which my dentist has just told me the next session would last. After the initial surprise comes a warm feeling of recognition: it was another one of those synchronistic moments when the exterior, physical world somehow comes into alignment with the interior world of our thoughts.


Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst, came up with the term Synchronicity for events such as these. Most people know the feeling, which comes in various forms - for example you think of someone for the first time in years and run into them a few hours later, or an unusual phrase you'd never heard before jumps out at you three times in the same day. A rather good one happened to me on the train to Cheltenham a few years ago while I was reading   ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ by Mark Haddon. I was at the point in the story where the main character goes to a local town called Swindon. Immediately after reading the word ‘Swindon’ I looked up; our train was pulling into a station and I wanted to see where we were. The very first thing which I saw was a station sign ...



(I didn’t even know the journey passed through this town and had no idea that the book had any reference to it).


In Cheltenham later that day I happened to meet the author of the book. (Not a big coincidence! It was a literary festival and the book was huge at the time). I thought Mr Haddon might be interested in my little story which involved the reading of his book and his choice of the Swindon location for it but in fact he couldn’t have been more uninterested. In fact, I got the distinct impression that he thought I was a gullible idiot. This is a the response which some people of a more scientific bent have; to them synchronicity is simply the 'selective perception of events' or the law of averages playing itself out? But I’m inclined to  agree with Jung when he wrote:


‘When coincidences pile up in this way, one cannot help being impressed by them - for the greater the number of terms in such a series, or the more unusual its character, the more improbable it becomes.’


To me it seemed that the chances of the intersection of me reading that word ‘Swindon’  and our train stopping at Swindon at exactly the same time were, taking into account the number of miles on the journey and the amount of words in the book, quite slim to say the least. But even if it is just ‘the law of averages playing out’ then the fact that they played out in that moment and everything came into alignment was still a magical thing.


There are of course synchronistic events which seem to the person experiencing them to have some sort of reason and purpose behind them. For example you open a book in a bookstore and the first thing you read has immediate relevance to an issue which you have been struggling with in your life. The ‘magic’ of the experience is stepped up even more because it seems that there is some plan, a sense of something which is bigger than you, playing out. One saying  goes:  ‘Synchronicity happens when God wishes to remain anonymous’.


For me, most of the time these events are, like my ‘45 minutes ‘ and ‘Swindon’ examples, gloriously insignificant. It’s like when for some reason I keep thinking of a film I haven’t seen for years and then I find to my amazement that it is being shown on television that night. For me the insignificance in no way diminishes the wonder and magic of the experience. Someone called it rather charmingly a ‘wink from the cosmos.’ In this, logical, technological, science-obsessed  world it’s good to have your mind stretched out of shape every now and again by a bit of everyday magic. Maybe after reading this it won’t be long before many of you notice your own little ‘Wink from the Cosmos.’ (Do let us know with a comment below if you do). I had one in the evening after I wrote this. I watched a programme called Grand Designs about the building of a new housing complex; where was the site located? A place which I had not been through or even thought of since the Cheltenham visit nine years ago – it was Swindon of course!


December 2011

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