Signs are there, learn how to look…

Synchronicities, according to Carl Jung, “are events that hold meaningful coincidences if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related”.

Coincidences, according to Plutarch, “are no great wonder if in long process of time, while fortune takes her course hither and thither, numerous coincidences should spontaneously occur”.

Serendipity, according to Horace Walpole, “means a fortunate happenstance or pleasant surprise, discoveries which happen by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”.

Over the last three weeks, the wheels on my Buddhist motorbike have been well and truly out of kilter, and so it seems have those to close me. Looking for the root cause of my problems these days is a lot easier than it used to be, my mind is relatively clear and signs of cause and effect present themselves with transparency.

My daughter came out of school on Friday visibly upset and after some of my soothing words and warm hugs, enlightened me with the root cause of her classroom woes. I told her not to worry and that we would talk about it at the weekend and if needs be I would go in to see the teacher.

So sitting down on the sofa after breakfast, I grabbed a piece of paper and a propelling pencil from my office desk and went over to the bookshelf to find a hard back book to lean on. The one which (almost) literally jumped off the shelf was Coincidences by Brian Inglis. That was the start of it. I had a pretty rough time in school and in part it was down to the lack of parental support, very rarely did my parents sit me down to understand or tease out from me the root cause of the problem and guide me to potential solutions (the only one I recall them suggesting was “punch them”, not sage advice).

Here I was 30 years later on the sofa with my daughter, evidently with more wisdom on my side. In truth her current issues are quite minor (noisy boys in the classroom and a bossy friend) but truly listening to her, soothing her and agreeing to put a plan of action in place to reduce/remove her suffering turned her frown upside down. We drew out a map of her classroom and she showed me where the noisy boys who were disturbing her concentration sat; she showed me where the bossy friend sat; she showed me where the teacher instructed the class from. It was clear that explaining her situation and my offering to see the teacher next week to improve the situation would help her a lot. After our conversation she turned to me and said “I love you Dad”. Beautiful.

Climbing the stairs to the bathroom for morning shower, I briefly reflected on the book I had picked from the shelf and our very own coincidence of school-time woes. Showers and baths are great places to think and to purge oneself of thoughts and negativity and today was no exception. I thought long and hard over the last three weeks and the root cause of my current dhukha state was work. The high profile project I am working on has gone off the rails a bit of late and as a result has piled on the pressure and stress for all those involved. I understood this. I also understood that there is little I can do about it, but what I can do is to stop getting stressed about things that are not under my control.

After stepping out of the shower, I felt like the dhukha had washed away with the suds and for the first time in a few weeks my head felt clear. As I dried myself, I stood a while looking at the picture we had bought for our bathroom re-fit this year. It’s not an expensive piece, just a few pounds from the local store. It’s not a masterpiece by any stretch, just a photograph of a collection of seaside paraphernalia. For the first time I looked at it, really looked at it, deconstructing each element, and it wasn’t long before a surge of energy and synchronicity hit me.

The elements that stood out:

  • The Shell (the company I work for).
  • The Anchor (the heavy weight dragging me down).
  • The Rope/Noose (the constricting nature of working in high profile projects and for “the man”).
  • The Net (a symbol of entrapment).

Here staring me right in the face was the root cause of my woes, my dhukha, but there are two further symbols to counteract the negativity:

  • The Fish (a reference to the Almighty).
  • The Stars (for me, a symbol which represents the Universe and of cosmic consciousness).

I am a firm believer that with a clear mind, the signs (call them breadcrumbs, call them synchronicities) are there, you just need to learn how to look…

The Magic Feather

Little rook in the midst of the parliament,
They harp and chatter, but everybody knows he’s going to be sent, away,

Cos he’s a wild, he’s got a red eye.

The trees are ringing, with the cackles and the twilight,
Little rook, takes one last look and takes flight, he’s away.

Cos he’s wild, he’s got a red eye.

Can you believe that his family, cannot be allowed to be together,
By the very same tribe that helped the elephant fly,
With a beautiful light and a magic feather

The dark old pie, in the tallest ashtray alone,
In the upturned branches, sceptres for the thrown.

It’s alright, it’s alright,

How can it be that a family cannot be allowed to be together,
By the very same tribe that helped the elephant fly,
With a beautiful light and a magic feather.

——————————————————————————————————————

As breadcrumbs go, I recently experienced a rather significant trail. Around three weeks ago, the mother of a friend of mine passed away. Around three weeks ago, friend of mine passed me an album by Nick Harper. Around three weeks ago, my wife and I started to find our garden, local parks and promenades were all covered in feathers. No coincidence there.

That was until everything was drawn together. My wife and I attended the funeral of our friend’s mother, a beautiful service which focused on both the celebration of her life and the respect her offspring and friends had for her. A few days after the service, our friend got in touch with us as we sat on our patio late one evening, talking. She thanked us for attending and shared something her mother had shared with her before she departed. She told her that once she had gone, for my friend to be on the lookout for feathers, as they will be a message from her that all was well on the other side and as long as she noticed the feathers, she was with her.

A short while later (no more than five minutes), I made the short journey from the patio to the fridge to top up the wife’s wine glass and saw a small white feather float past me, landing on the floor quite close to me. I guess the old me would have been pretty spooked by such a random coincidence, but no longer. I beckoned the wife over to see the spot where the feather landed and to my extended surprise saw another two feathers in the near vicinity.

After discussing the feathers and inevitably ITLAD (Is There Life After Death), we changed topic and talked about our joint excitement over some up and coming live events, namely concerts with John Legend and Lenny Kravitz. I also told her that Nick Harper (an incredible folk guitarist from the UK) was playing Liverpool in October and should we perhaps get tickets as the venue is really small and it would be a good opportunity to catch up with some friends we hadn’t seen for a while. At that point I reached for the iPhone as I had added all of his albums to it earlier in the week, including Miracles for Beginners, the old new album I had only heard live before. I duly hit the forward triangle on my phone and we sat a while, and then it happened. Track number four came on. Magic feather…

I listened to the album as I worked this morning, and was prompted to put fingers to keyboard over lunch before I forgot. The amount of feathers I have seen over the last few weeks has been incredible. Everywhere I look (including at one point on the sole of my Converse), feathers can be found, mostly white fluffy ones.

OK it may be the season for it. OK I live two hundred metres from the beach. It’s the sheer volume of feathers and random links that make you think about reality in a different light.

I have read the lines from the song today (posted above) and can draw even further links to all of this:

“The dark old pie, in the tallest ashtray alone” – my friends mum had a dark complexion and smoked cigarettes.

“How can it be that a family cannot be allowed to be together” – the sad departing of my friends mum.

“With a beautiful light and a magic feather” – the funeral reference that the sky has a new star and to keep an eye out for magic feathers…