Synchronicity — don’t tell ME it’s just a coincidence!


OK, this is just way, way too weird…

Let’s take it step by step…

I wrote about some of the planet’s coolest people dying off in the wake of the election.

Norm Ivey responded that “I know that the election and the deaths of these artists are just synchronicity, but dang!”

I thought, “Just” synchronicity? Wait — doesn’t “synchronicity” imply that there is some sort of meaningful relationship? I decided to look it up.

As I went to another tab in Chrome to look up the word, I thought about responding to Norm, “Don’t say ‘Synchronicity!’ That would mean that, according to the Rule of Three, Sting is next!”

Wikipedia told me that no, Norm had used the word just right, saying it was “a concept, first explained by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, which holds that events are ‘meaningful coincidences’ if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.” The key word being “seem.”

I scrolled down and read this wonderful example from Jung:

My example concerns a young woman patient who, in spite of efforts made on both sides, proved to be psychologically inaccessible. The difficulty lay in the fact that she always knew better about everything. Her excellent education had provided her with a weapon ideally suited to this purpose, namely a highly polished Cartesian rationalism with an impeccably “geometrical” idea of reality. After several fruitless attempts to sweeten her rationalism with a somewhat more human understanding, I had to confine myself to the hope that something unexpected and irrational would turn up, something that would burst the intellectual retort into which she had sealed herself. Well, I was sitting opposite her one day, with my back to the window, listening to her flow of rhetoric. She had an impressive dream the night before, in which someone had given her a golden scarab — a costly piece of jewellery. While she was still telling me this dream, I heard something behind me gently tapping on the window. I turned round and saw that it was a fairly large flying insect that was knocking against the window-pane from outside in the obvious effort to get into the dark room. This seemed to me very strange. I opened the window immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, “Here is your scarab.” This experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. The treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results.

— Carl Jung

Since I was rewatching “Grosse Pointe Blank” on Netflix over the weekend, when I read that, I thought to myself, That’s like “shockabuku.”

So I decided to look up “shockabuku” to see if it was a thing or just made up for the movie, and whether anyone else had connected it to the Jungian concept. Initial results seemed inconclusive. Then I modified to search for “shockabuku synchronicity.”

The fourth result on the search page said, “Dyad – Enclosed – YouTube Gaming.” Whoa! I thought. It happens that I’m working on a newsletter item for an ADCO client about the client’s organization using the “Dyad” organizational model — something I had never heard of before working on this. That seemed, you know, meaningful

I clicked on “Dyad – Enclosed” and found it was a sort of techno music video. I was listening to Spotify at the time, so I ALT-TABbed over to pause that so I could hear the Dyad thing.

You know how it you leave Spotify running, when you go back to the app, the first thing you see is an ad? Yeah. Well, as I went to click on the “pause” button, I was looking at an ad for this new album by, well, guess who…


I’ve been listening to Spotify for years, and I don’t think I had ever previously seen an ad for a Sting album. Nor had I typed anything into my computer about him, thereby causing some algorithm to show me this ad. All I had done was have that very fleeting thought, upon which I had not acted…

All of this, of course, took place in the space of about a minute, or two at the most, if you count the time spent reading that example from Jung.

I’m going to step off this merry-go-round now, very carefully… I need to get back to working on that Dyad thing…

19 thoughts on “Synchronicity — don’t tell ME it’s just a coincidence!

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I didn’t even mention that I had been listening to a playlist that Spotify had thrown together for me based on what it thought my musical tastes were, and that the last full song before I paused was “Home Again,” from Carole King’s classic “Tapestry.”

    Oh, you don’t get why that’s significant? Come on, THINK!

    How many pianists suddenly became hugely famous in 1971 when they released albums under their names after many years of having been successful songwriters and a huge influence on other famous acts?

    I can only think of two: Carole King and Leon Russell — which is where we started…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      OK, technically, the album titled “Leon Russell” came out in 1970, but it didn’t catch on. Leon didn’t become a household name until “Leon Russell and the Shelter People” in 1971, about the same time he performed at the Concert for Bangladesh — at which point many of us went back and bought the first album, which was also amazing.

      By the way, I first heard of Carole King hanging out with some friends in the spring of 1971 at a house in Makalapa Heights, overlooking Pearl Harbor. Someone said, “Who’s Carole King?” and the person who had brought her up said, “Remember when we went to the James Taylor concert? She was his piano player.”

      James Taylor being another musician whose second album (“Sweet Baby James”) prompted a lot of us to go back and buy his earlier, less-successful effort.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Also… while WORKING a little bit ago — interviewing someone for a piece I’m writing for a client — I drank what I thought were my third and fourth cups of coffee of the day, but which may have been my fourth and fifth…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          That was actually a sort of interesting interview.

          The subject asked me to meet him at Yesterday’s, where he used to moonlight as a bartender. (The synchronicity angle here is that my middle daughter also tended bar at Yesterday’s for years.)

          When I got there, my subject was talking with Scotty MacRae, one of the owners of the restaurant. My subject was Mike Conroy. After we’d been talking awhile, it came up that he’s a younger brother of the late Pat Conroy. So we talked about Pat, and about their brother Tim, who also lives here in town and who I’ve known slightly for a couple of years. I met him through Mike Miller, whom people mistake for me. (Synchronicity!)

          Scotty dropped by and informed me that all of the Conroy brothers (there’s at least one other) except Pat had worked at Yesterday’s over the years. I said that explained that sign over the bar with their father’s name on it — which I recognized as the kind of sign the Navy would issue to officers to post in front of their homes in base housing. MY Dad (synchronicity again!) has one just like it that is posted over the carport of my parents’ beach house.

          Mike said yep, and his Dad used to come into Yesterday’s a lot — since he was famously a Marine aviator, he and Scotty’s brother Duncan, who flew helicopters as a Marine in Vietnam, had a lot to talk about.

          Brothers and fathers and daughters and coincidences…

          OK, back to typing up my notes from that interview…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, I can’t stand the tension of waiting for the other shoe to drop…

    Bryan? Norm? When is one of y’all going to say, “I saw Meaningful Coincidence open for Leon Russell in 1972…”?

    1. Norm Ivey

      Rats! A missed opportunity!

      I was at my homebrew club meeting this evening after a quick afternoon nap.

      By the way, the new Sting album is pretty good. He went back to his rock roots on this one.

  3. Burl Burlingame

    The Sting album was just released this week, and it’s his first “rock” album in more than a decade. So there’s buzz.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Right. Of course, I didn’t know Sting had put out ANY albums in the last decade. Or the last three decades.

      So basically, by thinking of him moments before, I caused him, retroactively, to issue an album that would cause buzz that would reach me at that very instant.

      Powerful is this synchronicity stuff…


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