Every season, millions of sea salmon swim from the Pacific Ocean upstream, thousands of kilometres back to the mountain streams of their birth. They do this to lay their eggs.

These tenacious salmon leap over waterfalls and swim through barriers of hundreds of grizzly bears. Along the way, on their long journey, the salmon encounter many predators and obstacles. Eventually, they lay their eggs in the place of their birth.

Estimates tell us only four out of every thousand salmon make it. But they do, and the cycle continues. If the fish did not get there at the right time, the North American bears that have just come out of hibernation would potentially starve to death.

Many other animals like birds, wolves and whales also depend on these fish for their survival. Every moment in life, one event seems to be inextricably linked to another.

Synchronicity means meaningful coincidence, miracle, fate, luck. Call it what you like. Being in the right place at the right time ensures the survival of the grizzly bears. We all have seen synchronicity in our own lives.

Carl Jung and the scarab

A green scarab - Synchronicity

The term synchronicity, which literally means ‘falling together in time,’ was coined by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.

A young woman came to Jung for therapy. She was serious and realistic. Jung felt that for her to change, he must soften her rationalist shell with ‘a somewhat more human understanding.’

She described a golden scarab—a costly piece of jewelry—that she had received in a dream the night before. At that moment, Jung heard a tapping on the window pane. He looked and saw a gold-green glint. He got up and plucked a scarabaei beetle out of the air. The beetle closely resembled the golden scarab.

“Here is your scarab,” Jung said to the woman. And so, the term synchronicity was born to describe miracles, strange occurrences and coincidences like this one.

Working as a clinical psychologist, I have had many such incredulous moments in therapy. A few months ago, a client sat in my office and told me about her imminent major surgery. She was stressed and anxious to the point of full-blown panic.

I told her to concentrate on one word: TRUST. Trust your doctors, trust the hospital and trust your body to heal. Just focus on TRUST. At that moment her phone beeped, and she received a one-word message from a relative: TRUST!

Another time, a client and I were talking about beggars and how they give us the opportunity to be charitable, and that we always have a choice. Suddenly, in the middle of the day, a beggar rang my bell asking for money.

Notice signs and wonders

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of synchronicity is the Umbrella Man.

On that sunny November day in 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, Louie Steven Witt (the closest bystander to Kennedy’s limousine) stood holding a black umbrella. He opened it and lifted it up above his head, moving it to the left and right at exactly at the moment that Kennedy was assassinated.

He became a topic of much speculation. Who was he? Who was he signalling?

Actually, he was protesting against the Kennedy family. He believed that Joseph Kennedy (the President’s father) had appeased British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who had supported Hitler during the Second World War.

Witt was merely a person in the right place at the wrong time. A strange coincidence. Synchronicity.

I’m sure you can all think of times when you thought of someone and they called. Or perhaps you decided not to go a certain route and then found out there was an accident on the route you were originally going to take. Or a song on the radio seemed to have a message for you? The list goes on.

So what does this mean for us? Let’s notice more signs and wonders in our own lives, perhaps even start a synchronicity journal. The more we look for them, the more likely we’ll be to notice the miracles around us.

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