What Can Coincidences Teach Me?

I’ve never been big on noticing signs and omens, and I have historically tended to ignore them on those occasions when I did notice. Lately though, I’ve been seeing more connections between things, and paying more attention.

Take The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I hadn’t intended to read it, but the universe seemed to want me to. Three times in one week, while reading other things, I came across references to The God of Small Things. I was beginning to think to myself, “Maybe I should check this book out,” when I found a copy of it on a table in our apartment building where people sometimes leave books for other tenants to take. I picked it up, and just finished reading it yesterday.

Go back in time for a moment, to when I was a little kid. I was with my parents, visiting an older couple from our church. The adults were in the living room chatting, drinking coffee, doing adult things. I was in a small den, listening to my first transistor radio. A song came on that I loved immediately. I would later identify it as “Ruby Tuesday,” by the Rolling Stones.

Back to The God of Small Things. Near the end of the book, one of the main characters is listening to a song:

There’s no time to lose
I heard her say
Cash your dreams before
They slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you
Will lose your mind.

“Ruby Tuesday.” And how is the character listening to these lyrics? On a transistor radio!

And now I’m thinking of another memory:
I have been cast as the young boy Randolph in a local high school production of Bye Bye, Birdie. I am 10 or 11. The music director is teaching me to sing Randolph’s songs in the school’s Choral Room. And there are posters of somebody named Mick Jagger on the wall. I wouldn’t learn who Mick Jagger was for a few more years, and it would be some time after that that I finally connected him to “Ruby Tuesday.”

Do any of these connections mean anything? Well, if you subscribe to the idea of synchronicity, maybe. Jung described it as “meaningful coincidence” or “acausal parallelism.” I don’t fully understand Jung’s theory of synchronicity, but I’m going to go with my own theory: Even if interesting coincidences have no underlying connection, and even if disparate events in the universe aren’t connected and trying to send me secret messages, if I spot connections which strike me as meaningful then for me those connections are real. The message I take from them is mine to decipher.

This puts the responsibility of interpretation on me. What do a brilliant but depressing book and a rock song from the 1960s that impressed me as a kid have to share with each other and with me? As I get older, and realize that I have not realized my dreams, the passing of time has been weighing heavily on me. As I read the lines from the song in the book, they struck home, just as they are striking home now as I reproduce them for this little essay. Interestingly, there is some uncertainty as to one of the words in the lyrics to “Ruby Tuesday.” Arundhati Roy writes, “Cash your dreams…” In at least one place online, I found, “Catch your dreams…” Or maybe it should be, “Cache your dreams…”
“Cache: store away in hiding or for future use” (Google dictionary).

I have some more thinking to do. Why haven’t I been able to catch my dreams? Or did I not store them properly? Or is it time for me to cash them in? I will start paying closer attention to “coincidences.”

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Barefoot Voosk

Shrdlu shrdlu shrdlu

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