If you bother to notice it, synchronicity is breath-taking. It’s that experience of having your life fall into step, each moment seeming to blend effortlessly into the next. Every thing that you attempt is completed, every goal that you set attained, with a minimal amount of exertion or hassle or trouble. When synchronicity kisses your life, you hit every stoplight at green. Each store has exactly what you came for, in the quantities that you need, and just when your old mattress finally fails, the Tempurpedic set goes on sale for 40% off. Your house seems more peaceful, your office time more productive. Life is good, in the simplest ways.
I’ve learned that most people don’t notice synchronicity. We’re so caught up in our chores and our bills and our work and our parenting that we don’t notice the utter perfection that sometimes occurs in our lives in a million small ways.
Synchronicity was first pointed out to me more than 20 years ago by a young man I knew when I lived in England, named Danny. Danny had the sunniest of smiles, a creativity that astounded me regularly, and a peacefulness that I rarely saw flustered. He had a lot of beautiful insights about the world and how it worked, and we would stay up all night, staring at the stars, talking about existential questions and positing the answers with the certainty of young twenty-somethings who had a lifetime in front of them.
Danny’s life was full of synchronicity. It was pretty amazing to watch, once you were aware of it. The simple things seemed to just come easily to him, always. Jars opened, trains were on time, parking spaces were aplenty, and his size of jeans was always on the rack. It was odd, but in a beautiful way.
Once I became aware of synchronicity, I studied how it came and went in my life. I analyzed whether it was simply a function of my mindset — perhaps sometimes I focused on the positive and others the negative? But I realized that, at least for me, there were definitely times when it was present, and times when it was not. It was not simply my imagination.
On the flip side, an unsynchronized life feels like a series of minor hassles, like you’re moving in fits and starts, with no flow or constant forward motion. Everything seems to take much longer and cost much more and consume more energy than you’d expected.
You lock your keys in the car. The grocery store is out of milk. The washing machine breaks down. One of your children forgets her flute, you take it to her at school and discover the other forgot her sneakers for gym class. The dog develops some kind of mysterious barfing illness. You can’t figure out where your American Express card is. Every time you try to log onto your bank to do your banking, they’re conducting “maintenance.” You have a permanent bruise on your elbow because you seem to whack your funny bone at least four times a day. Every single light is red, and your car is making a funny clunking sound. You can’t seem to get anything done at work.
And that’s just one week.
See the difference?
You might not believe in synchronicity, or possibly it doesn’t happen in your life. But try paying attention and see if you notice it. I’ve no idea how common it really is. What I do know is that my life right now isn’t synchronized. Not at all.
I feel as if I’m moving through molasses, as if every turn I make causes me to run headlong into a wall. I bounce off, and adjust my course, only to hit another wall. It’s mildly frustrating, a little discouraging, and very tiring.
In the last 20+ years, I’ve realized that when my life feels out of sync, it’s usually because I need a course correction — somewhere along the way, I’ve made a minor misstep that has taken me off-course and is creating some general discomfort, like a sliding screen door that’s off its track. The screen door still works, but not easily. It grinds along beside its track, without its usual smoothness or efficiency.
But I’m not sure where I’m off-course at the moment. Believe me, I’ve looked at it, but it’s just not clear. I’m hoping that one of these days, it will hit me and I’ll know what to do to get back on track. But right now, I’m just creaking and grinding along.
Eventually — I hope — synchronicity will appear in my life again and I’ll feel its warm glow. Until then, I’ll keep muddling along through my molasses, rubbing my funny bone and cleaning up dog barf.