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 The Art of Meaningful Coincidence

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Jae Baeli
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Join date : 2011-11-09
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PostSubject: The Art of Meaningful Coincidence   Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:47 pm

Published on Psychology Today (http://www.psychologytoday.com)





By Deborah Ward

Created Dec 2 2011 - 10:02am

Robert Wadlow



Last week I was sitting at my desk writing when I happened
to come across an interesting article. Okay, so I wasn't exactly
writing. I was surfing the Internet. But I read an article about the
life of Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest man in history. At age 13,
he was 7'4", the world's tallest Boy Scout. At the time of his death, in
1940, he stood 8'11" tall. He was only 22.I don't really know
why this story interested me, apart from the sheer amazement of it. But
seeing the old photo of this young man, towering over his own father,
and knowing how young he was when he died, I was struck by what a lonely
young man he must have been. It would have been incredibly difficult
for him to make friends his own age and even harder to have a romantic relationship.
Later
that same day, after I'd stopped fooling around on the Internet and
actually got some work done, I sat down to read a novel I'd recently
begun about a boy who struggles to grow up as an only child, and finds
solace and hope of escape through his belief that he will one day become
recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records. I picked up reading
where I'd left off and when I turned the page, the boy in the novel
tells us that he has just finished reading an article about Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest man in history.
Now,
I had never heard of Wadlow before that day and I thought this was an
amazing coincidence. But this was not the first time this kind of thing
had happened to me. I will often be thinking about something and then
turn on the radio to hear a commercial about the very same thing. But
what does it mean?
According to Carl Jung, such events are not mere coincidences at all, but what he called synchronicity
or meaningful coincidence. ‘Synchronicity,' said Jung, ‘is the coming
together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by
cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.'
So what
that means, then, is that synchronous events are meaningful when they
have meaning for you. If I were to see an acorn on the ground and later
read a newspaper article about acorns, that wouldn't mean much to me. I
don't even like acorns. But sometimes coincidences require a little
thought and reflection before the meaning becomes clear. And maybe that
is why they appear in our lives. They are so amazing, and seem so
unbelievable, they grab our attention. We are taken away from the rush
of everyday life and are stopped in our tracks, and left to consider the
meaning of these events. And if we do stop and think, we come to
realise that these strange happenings can tell us something important
about our lives and ourselves.
I can't help wondering whether
highly sensitive people are more likely to experience such coincidences
simply because we are more sensitive to and aware of what's going on
around us. Jung went on to say that synchronicity is more likely to
occur when we are in a state of heightened emotional and mental
awareness, which is the state that HSPs seem to be in most of the time.
Personally, I enjoy being in a state of awareness and open to my
surroundings. It may be overstimulating at times, but I've learned to
steer clear of obvious stressors that are too much for me. Being open
and aware lets me see a whole new world and interpret that world in a
way that enriches my own understanding of it and of myself.
Synchronicity can not only teach us, but comfort us, providing
reassurance of feelings or ideas we felt to be true, or pointing us in
the direction we need to go, when we may not have been sure of the way.
As
for the meaning of my seemingly random run-in with Robert Pershing
Wadlow, I think it did have meaning for me. I was struck by this young
man's sense of loneliness.
And the boy in the novel was grappling with his loneliness as well.
Perhaps there was a message in there for me, hovering, as always, just
beneath the surface. Perhaps these stories were alerting me to my own
sense of loneliness, arising, no doubt, from too many hours at my desk.
Writing can be lonely. But a little synchronicity seemed to be the nudge
I needed to turn off the computer and get out and mingle. Thanks to
Carl Jung and Robert Wadlow, I'm feeling part of society again. And who
knows what strange coincidences will point me in a new direction
tomorrow. I'm just glad I'm sensitive enough to see them.






Source URL: http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/81216

Links:
[1] http://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/deborah-ward
[2] http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sense-and-sensitivity
[3] http://www.psychologytoday.com/taxonomy/term/182248
[4] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/1940
[5] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/amazing-coincidence
[6] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/awareness
[7] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/belief-0
[8] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/book-world-records
[9] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/boy-scout
[10] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/carl-jung
[11] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/cause-and-effect
[12] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/coincidences
[13] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/emotions
[14] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/guinness-book-world
[15] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/guinness-book-world-records
[16] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/highly-sensitive
[17] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/meaningful-coincidence
[18] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/old-photo
[19] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/romantic-relationship
[20] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/sheer-amazement
[21] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/solace
[22] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/stood-8
[23] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/sychronicity
[24] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/synchronicity
[25] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/synchronous-events-0
[26] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/tallest-man-in-history
[27] http://www.psychologytoday.com/tags/young-man

_________________
{INSERT a pithy quotation or credo that attempts to illustrate my superior intellect and profound sense of reason and ethics, and seeks to encourage you to explore new ideas, understand the inexplicable, reject the nonsensical, and appreciate my scathing wit HERE} (c) kjb

Author of 7 novels, 8 non-fiction books, and 9 anthologies.
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