This week I experienced one of those surreal moments when something that I was thinking about popped out of the radio, at the exact second that I was thinking it. It’s a phenomenon called “synchronicity.” Carl Jung philosophized about it, Sting wrote a song about it, and now I’m going to blog about it. Here’s what happened:
I was driving towards downtown Tucson, with my radio tuned to NPR, as it often is. The program was about the art of calligraphy. A woman was saying that the practice of doing calligraphy (from the Greek kallos meaning “beauty” and graphe meaning “writing”) can actually lower people’s stress levels. I should take up calligraphy, I thought. That driver behind me should take up calligraphy, too. But wait – there’s more to this story.
I was on my way to my job as a school psychologist in a large urban high school. Being a workaholic – er -- devoted employee, I admit that I sometimes think about my job while driving to work. So when I heard the woman say that calligraphy can reduce stress, I thought I might want to hang a calligraphy poster on my office door at work. That way, the little punks – er -- angels coming to my office for testing or counseling might not feel so bad about having to have their heads shrunk.
I already have something hanging on my office door. It’s a print of the famous Picasso painting, Hands with Bouquet. I love its simplicity, its positive image, and its childlike quality. (Picasso once said that it took him a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.) Recently, a teenage girl with Down Syndrome walked by my door and took an interest in the picture. I used this teachable moment to tell her that it was a painting by a famous artist named Picasso. The next time she came to see me, she looked at the print and said, “artist.” The painting had made an impression, and I think Picasso would have been very pleased.
Anyway, back to what I was saying about synchronicity. I was driving along, thinking about where I might be able to find a calligraphy poster, and how it would look next to my Picasso print. I thought more about Picasso. I thought about how he was from Spain. I thought about how most of the students at my school speak Spanish. I had almost forgotten that I was listening to the radio (or, for that matter, driving), when I was shocked back into reality by hearing the word “Picasso” coming from my radio. My ears perked up. The woman was saying, “Picasso said that if he were born Chinese, he would have been a calligrapher.” Wow. Picasso and calligraphy, together in my mind, and simultaneously together in HER mind, too. I love when that happens!
Someone once said to me, “There are no coincidences.” Being somewhat of a skeptic, I didn’t believe her. But now I just don’t know. Since my experience the other day, I have learned just enough about synchronicity to be dangerous. I’ve learned that Carl Jung believed that there are no coincidences. He believed that we all share a subconscious collective memory, having something to do with relativity theory and quantum physics. At least that’s what it says in Wikipedia. All I know is that somehow my brain made a connection between calligraphy and Picasso, and there really WAS a connection all along. So maybe my brain is really intuitive, or else it was just dumb luck.
I think my next song will be called “Calligraphy.” It will be graceful. It will be simple. It will be childlike. And most of all, it will be relaxing. Something everyone will want to listen to while driving to their stressful jobs.
P.S. Sting was interested in Carl Jung. Here are the lyrics to Sting’s song, “Synchronicity”:
With one breath, with one flow
You will know
A sleep trance, a dream dance
A shared romance
A connecting principle
Linked to the invisible
Logic so inflexible
Yet nothing is invincible
If we share this nightmare
Then we can dream
If you act, as you think
The missing link
We know you, they know me
A star fall, a phone call
It joins all
It's so deep, it's so wide
Effect without a cause
Sub-atomic laws, scientific pause