OK, I blogged about synchronicity recently with regard to the International Space Station (see Spacemen in my Backyard), but I didn’t really define it. I’m not going to go look it up in the dictionary right now (but feel free, if you want to); instead I will describe what that term means to me. It means being so in tune with the time/space/eventuality continuum that, instead of planning for things ahead of time, things just seem to happen for you at the right moment. Just what you want/need/have been hoping for, falls into your lap, or presents itself, without any outward effort on your part.*(See metaphysical footnote, below.)
A close relative once said that our family is blessed with this kind of coincidental serendipity, almost as if it were a supernatural gift. That family member labeled this charactieristic “intuition.” It is knowing without measuring, arriving without planning, obtaining without struggling. It is the ability to materialize what you need when you need it, like good “parking karma” in a congested urban environment. My rationalization is that it derives from a state of openness and listening, a state I like to call being “centered.”
It’s useful to have good intuition, especially if you don’t have a lot of money or time to waste. It’s nice to be at the right place at the right time to get bargains on the food and other things you need, to get free tickets to Giants games or symphony concerts, to have friends who can fix your car or your house for a reasonable price. My family is blessed with these things. So even if we can’t afford luxuries like cable TV, we get by with good intuition, parking karma, and a little help from our friends.
Now, I don’t sit around every day thinking about all this. Like everyone else, I plan my day, prioritize, set goals, accomplish certain tasks within a defined timeline, to reach desired outcomes. I have a schedule. I work, work out, make meals, eat, clean the house, go out with friends, take care of family, plan “me” time, plan vacations, do projects, sleep. Etc.
But every now and then (more often than not, it seems), I have happy little “coincidences” that just make my day. Like getting to see the first race of the America’s Cup.
As you know, the America’s Cup competition is taking place on the San Francisco Bay as I write. There has been a lot of hoopla about it for a couple of years, leading up to the event. Thursday (July 4th), the ribbon-cutting and opening ceremonies took place. I knew that today the first races would take place. I really do love sailing and boats in general. I didn’t see myself attending the races, though.
I’m not someone who likes big crowds or traffic hassles. As excited as I am about this world class event, which is taking place literally in my backyard, I would find it hard to break my lethargic weekend routine to battle city traffic and masses of people and to seek out a vantage point from which to see the big boats sail by.
Yesterday, in honor of the races, I went to San Francisco to see the Palace of the Legion of Honor museum‘s “Impressionists on the Water.” It is an exhibit of paintings with aquatic and sailing themes by some of the great impressionist painters of the late 19th century, including Monet, Pissaro, Caillebotte, and others. The exhibit, timed to coincide with the America’s Cup races, included some actual boats used by the artists, small canoe-like wooden “skiffs” in which artists floated down the Seine and other French rivers made famous by Pierre Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. Also featured were some small models of sailboats of the time, including various wooden hull designs. It put me in a good mood about sailing, even though I knew I would probably not attend the “real” races. Then, I looked up from one of the paintings and saw a very tall young man wearing a black jersey with “Oracle” and other America’s cup-related insignia on it. He was unusually tall, I thought, for a sailor, but it seemed likely that he was associated in some way with the America’s Cup races. That in itself, I thought, was a coincidence that brought the competition closer to me.
Today, something told me to turn on the TV (which I rarely do during the day). We don’t get many channels; just a few, with an antenna. I happened to switch to a channel that plays reruns of old shows, and there, in all its glory, was the first part of the America’s Cup competition. Who’d a’ thunk it? The graceful Emirates catamaran, sailing in the Louis Vuitton Cup competition, was winning the first race.
First of all, it was amazing to see how HUGE these boats are–they’re 86 feet long! Secondly, it was a thrill to see up close (via camera mounted on accompanying power boat) how the crew operated the high tech vessel with winches instead of puling on loose sheets; how automated everything was. (I would never have gotten this great view from the shore.)
Thirdly, the “sailing” itself took my breath away. Tremendous speeds of 30+ knots took the regatta into a whole new speed class, as did the literal flying of the boats; often with one hull of the catamaran completely lifted out of the water.
Fourthly, the crew and their clothing were nothing like what I had expected to see. Dressed in logo-emblazoned black and white suits and helmets, the dozen or so tall, well-muscled crew members running deftly across the trampoline from one side of the craft to the other in precision timing, seemed more like futuristic soccer players than like sailors. Maybe even like something from the movie Roller Ball.
The huge scale and tremendous speed of the catamarans bring this race way into another realm of sailing: a break from the last competition’s much smaller and less uniform boats; a doubling or tripling of the speeds; and a far cry from the old wooden boats and canvas sails from the late 1800s.
But I think that for me, seeing the man in the America’s Cup jersey at the impressionists exhibition tied sailing’s past to its present, inviting respect for our ancestors’ seafaring roots, and for their ability to push the limits of their technology and skill in the direction of their limitless imagination … a legacy that continues with today’s races.
* (Metaphysical Footnote)
If you read scientific literature, you’ll find that, the smaller the particles we attempt to isolate, the closer we get to an undefinable particle/energy, that can be arguably called “spirit.” In fact, the latest particle discovered by science is called the “God particle” for lack of a more descriptive term. (I’m not making this up; look it up.) As much as we have tried to separate human thought, human action, and “the rest of the natural world,” all of our research points to our being an inextricable part of the universe. We are made of the same atoms and electronic impulses as stardust, planets, and grass (you can look that up, too). Whatever consciousness flows through the rest of the cosmos flows through us as well. To define is to separate artificially; there is in fact no real separation. Wow.