In late 2003 I walked into The Royal Museum in Edinburgh, what is now The National Museum of Scotland. The first thing I saw was a Nisga’a totem pole. I recognized it easily, as I’d just moved from British Columbia and everything that didn’t fit in my backpack was waiting for me back there in Nisga’a territory.

No doubt B.C.’s totem poles are internationally interesting and probably everyone who travels finds connections to their home. But my first few months in Edinburgh were magical to me, and there were several things that pinged the “It’s a sign!” part of my brain. Carl Jung called it synchronicity, when events seem meaningfully related but are not causally related. He wrote, “it cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity.” For me, at that time, everything from the job I got to the guy I dated seemed right and inevitable and interconnected with everything that had come before.

It’s a comforting feeling. Rather than constricting, it’s reassuring to see “evidence” that there’s a plan or a design and it’s working as intended. Yet the idea that my life has been planned or designed by anyone other than me is the opposite of comforting. Suddenly I feel trapped and rebellious. I can only conclude that if synchronicity is indicative of a real underlying force in the universe, I’d rather it stay underlying. The less I know, the closer I stay to that mysterious balancing point between freedom and inevitability, the happier I am.


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