Synchronicity is a term Carl Jung championed to describe those uncanny moments that—while they could be dismissed as rather unlikely coincidences—create the perception that there is a hidden order to the Universe.
The rationalist part of my brain tells me that synchronicities are just a poetic illusion: a useful fiction that gives meaning to a chaotic world. It’s perfectly fine to lean into synchronicities even if they aren’t “real” so long as you know that you’re doing exactly that.
The mystic part of my brain, which is buried down under the rational thought tells the rational part that it is an arrogant idiot and it needs to shut the fuck up.
They fight crime.
Anyway, this is a story about how I’ve been riding a synchronicity wave this week, when I became aware of it, and when it turned dark.
I’ve been feeling good this week. Not riding a high good, but an in the flow good. Fear hasn’t been ruling me, and I’ve been spending my emotional capital wisely while avoiding crash-and-burn binge eating somehow. On Wednesday night I became conscious of a synchronicity web while sitting in my car at Vons after this month’s edition of the storytelling show Public School.
The Cranberries’ Zombie came on the radio, with it’s chorus of “in your heeeeeeaaaaaaaddddd” and I flashed on how Stephen Falk, creator of You’re The Worst (it’s a fun show) and one of the Public School producers, told me that he was trying to keep thirteen stories in his head. Then I flashed on how I had put an article about computer modeling of zombie outbreaks that some virologists had done, in order to make a wonkier bit of their field more fun, on my phone right before the show.
“In my head” to “in your head” to “zombies.”
A little, fun, synchronicity wave. I noted it, and took it as a sign that I was in a flow state of one kind or another. The main thing you never want to do is interrogate flow states that are working, that’s a surefire ticket to trouble town.
Flash forward to yesterday.
I’m on a call with my co-workers while I’m at the apartment. As I sometimes do during a call I get up and walk around the house and find stuff to do with my hands. It’s easier for me to stay focused on what disembodied voices are saying if my hands have something to keep them occupied.
I find myself over at the bookshelf where I have the Transformers/Star Wars mash-up of the Millennium Falcon half-way between ship and robot forms. I pop off the arm of the Chewbacca bot get it situated and pop it back on. Then I start twisting the Han Solo half into shape. Yes, for those of you who don’t know, the Millennium Falcon Transformer is technically a Combiner.
The toy is old, and the design was never that great to begin with, so there’s a lot of popping off of parts and twisting them back on in order to get the Han robot standing. One of his legs is wonky, so I have to pitch it at an angle.
The last time I played with the Han-bot I had wedged the Han mini-figure into the chest cavity, Matrix of Leadership style. Since I had just put the Chewie mini-fig on the shoulder of the Chewie robot, in the manner of a heroic Mecha pilot, I wanted to to the same with Han.
I flipped open the chest cockpit and started to pull the little Harrison Ford doll—it’s about half the length of an adult pinky finger—out of there. It got stuck. I applied a little force, and the flipping head came off.
I got it out of there and tried to reattach the head, but this wasn’t a pop-off situation. This was a break. Ugh. The toy is out of print, so they’ll be no replacing the smuggler this time.
Instead of getting upset—I am on the call still—I artfully arrange the figure, snap off a few photos, and post to Instagram with the caption “Inform Princess Leia there’s been an accident.”
All this—mind you—while I’m holding a conversation about podcast strategy and giving fairly detailed explanations of a proposed production process.
The call ends, I check the social media accounts I’m responsible for, and life is back to normal. I’m checking one of those accounts when I see the news that Harrison Ford had crashed his plane on a golf course. At that moment I completely forget about the figure and the photos and go into “must learn what the fuck is going on mode”.
It’s only a half-hour later that I remember what happened at the cave…uh, I mean at the bookshelf. The photo is up and I’m thinking “Crap, I don’t want people to think I was being a jackass.” This is Harrison, and given that we just lost Leonard Nimoy I’m already emotional about that generation of actors this week.
I check the timestamp on the Instagram and the timestamp on the Variety and TMZ articles. TMZ, naturally, was the earlier one—even though Variety was the one I saw first.
The photo hit Instagram one minute before the TMZ article broke.
Which means that my little Han Solo was getting decapitated some time in the gap between Harrison’s plane going down and the outside world having any idea what happened. For all I know it went down while I was yanking the Falcon apart.
I recalled then the previous night’s awareness of a synchronicity wave.
Look: there are times when I’ve been a True Believer and times I’ve been convinced that the universe is nothing but cold deterministic machinery that we have no impact on whatsoever. I’m not sure which model is right. I know that I pulled off a few good slight-of-mind tricks back in the day that made me a better, or at least a more interesting, person. I also know that walking away from that slight-of-mind made the effects go away too.
Now it’s easy to dismiss this as raw coincidence, and if you are inclined to do so I believe that you should. Just walk away. You gain nothing by arguing the point. Stay true to your heart as you will. (You also won’t be doing me any favors by arguing rationality at me, as I pointed out above, I’m already of two minds about the subject. I also react to negatively framed arguments the way a 14-year old who is on a industrial-punk music tear reacts to their parents telling them what not to do or think: i.e. not well.)
Jung, however, was obsessed with these kinds of moments and I wonder what he would make of this disturbance in the Force.