The Art of Synchronicity


Monday morning cafe performance

Monday morning cafe performance

I have mentioned before Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way as one of the most life-changing books I have ever read. One of the ideas it introduced me to was that of ‘synchronicity’ which is best summed up as useful/inspiring coincidence. Except it isn’t really coincidence; it is simply that once you are in an open-minded and receptive mode, you start to spot stuff which previously would have passed you by. Once I had found out about synchronicity, I encountered it everywhere, all the time, and even better, found I could cultivate it through practice.


In one way, the whole of last week’s blogging was an example of synchronicity in action. I went out to Italy with absolutely no idea of how my virtual isolation would work in a creative sense, and then found myself almost overwhelmed by possibility. I also found art in the unlikeliest of places, which led me to conclude that art is truly part of the fabric of all societies just awaiting encounter. In one sense this is obvious, but what with the constant pressure on the art world in this country to justify its existence, it is reassuring to be reminded of its essential nature.

But synchronicity isn’t just about art, or creativity. It is relevant to the whole of life. Which is no bad thing when you have interminable waits with a child at the orthodontist every month or so. As with this morning; and once the teeth had been seen to, we nipped into the cafe next door so middle daughter could grab some breakfast. Not only to celebrate no bottom braces, and a proper overbite for the first time ever, but also the end of her vegetarianism.

At this point, receptive to entertainment of any sort, synchronicity came into play. An engrossing show by another customer recounting to the world at large (and certainly at least to the end of the road, so loudly did he speak) the saga of his hospital visits since last December. A female relative with emphysema/pneumonia who refused to quit smoking; hospitalisation for the visitor himself at one stage; three hour round trips to another local hospital with local transport issues prompted by late-night vandalism. And not a trace of self-pity as he recounted his real-life soap. His audience of three sat transfixed as yet more and more detail was unleashed. At one point his companion called for “Toast!” which was duly rushed to the table in the manner of first aid being administered. There was a sense that no delay of any sort could be allowed to interrupt the performance for even a second. For a performance was exactly what it was.

Recounting a life story in a booming voice in all its colourful detail to a room of strangers is not my thing. But I am in awe when I see it done, and genuinely grateful to those who liven up life in this way. You are either going to be irritated by it, or you have to laugh. Maybe there’s a middle way too, but I’ve not found it yet.


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