Monday, July 03, 2006
Synchronicity, a term coined by Carl Jung, refers to "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events." As in coincidences that cannot be explained by causality. It's about finding patterns in the chaos.
In May, when I was on my way to New Orleans to visit Peace Corps friends, I read a story in Atlantic Monthly about Moto, an experimental restaurant in Chicago formally filed under the genre of Molecular Gastronomy. The head chef Homaro Cantu is getting crazy kudos for his unorthodox methods, including carbonated fruit, edible paper and fun uses for Class IV lasers. I was interested in Cantu's creative translation of gourmet cuisine. It's like punk rock meets opera.
Friday night, some of my friends and I went to a concert at the Black Cat (DC's mecca for punk rockish music). The bands included Psapp, a group from Brooklyn that has an obsession with cats and funky sound loops. Smitten with the show, I purchased the band's disc and had the lead singer autograph it. When I sat back down, a dood was smoking near my group.
As I sat down and showed my new purchase, smoking guy commented about Psapp's cat obsession. And we started a conversation that would last the next four hours.
Smoking guy works for a nonprofit in DC. But he used to work as a chef for Moto. Cue synchronicity music. Seems creating avante garde food is a high-pressure, high-stakes industry. Smoking guy burnt out. He's still passionate about food but he had to take a break to find out how to balance his life and his passions. That's a very familiar conundrum for me.
Ever since Peace Corps, this type of coincidence has become run-of-the-mill. The fellow Peace Corps trainee who went to the same school and church as I did when I was a kid. The member of my current church who, as it turns out, became good friends with a friend of mine from high school after challenging him to a karaoke-off in a random bar in Illinois several years ago. The Peace Corps recruiter I worked with whose last name is also Lee and who also served in the Dominican Republic. It goes on.
Part of me wants to find order in all of this. To say it means something. But, like the subconscious creating the illusion of consciousness, I believe synchronicity is an illusion. There is a connection in everything. That dood next to me on the subway had the same kindergarten teacher as I did. The rock I just stepped on was once part of the house I grew up in. When I find these things out they seem fantastic. But they were always there. Nothing has changed. Just my perception.
Synchronicity is being aware. Synchronicity is making connections. Synchronicity is a parlor trick.
Keep on entertaining me life. The show's just starting to get interesting.