Thursday, March 19, 2009

This tornado loves you

How you parents avoid posting endless cute pictures of your children I'll never understand.

What will make you believe me? I love unspoken and unexpected synchronicities in life. They are things, maybe the only things, that give me real faith. I believe completely in the power of divine coincidence. My father says, when things like that happen, that they are “of the Lord.” My vocabulary is different, but our thought is the same. I’ve had friends call me a fatalist, and maybe that is true religion. I should have been an ancient Roman. The fates weave the threads of my existence together, and if I can begin to listen for their echoes, I find myself believing that there is a plan. That someone up there is looking out for me.

My cousin used to believe that every time she found a penny God was telling her he loved her. It was a reasoned belief, a choice, the truth she was choosing to accept from the universe, but once she made that choice there were pennies everywhere. So many pennies; too many pennies. Too many pennies to not believe that there was a divine purpose behind them, that God knew what she had decided and that he was consciously telling her something. That behind the seemingly random patterns, there was, in fact, a personal intelligence.

Buddhists believe something similar. Because the universe is ruled by karma, the infinite intricate belief in cause and effect, nothing is random. “The environment mirrors the inner lives of the people who live there,” says Nichiren Buddhism. “You make your world.” Jung is the one who named the principle synchronicity, and defined it as the fortuitous inter-meshing of events. He said, “When coincidences pile up in this way, one cannot help being impressed by them -- for the greater the number of terms in such a series, or the more unusual its character, the more improbable it becomes.”

Of course, science has a rational explanation, calling the occurrence a “delusion of reference,” where one interprets all new data in such a way as to confirm previous beliefs.

Indeed. Is all faith, then, a delusion of reference? I don’t know. I chose a line from a random song I was listening to as my subject line for a blog post about Papou--I had never heard the song before, didn’t know it. Pandora, my newest favorite music site, was playing it to me as I wrote. A week later, my sister had the sudden urge to buy a song she had heard only once--at midnight, on the radio, stopped at a stoplight. The song evoked for her that single moment in time, in a way that only music can do. I looked up the lyrics and found my single line, from the song I had not heard before or since.

Today, while beginning this blog, I was listening to the playlist from a friend’s blog, and it played the same Neko Case song that brought me to tears yesterday, on the radio, as I drove through an exquisite spring day that seemed to mean nothing, a day so much like that beautiful day when my brother almost died.

What will make me believe? Evidence. Proof. I don’t know if synchronicity is enough for everyone, but some days, the good days, it’s good enough for me. At least good enough to play my music library on shuffle.

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