This will never become a book.

2013 October 9 Wednesday

Turn on a Dime

Filed under: reality, synchronicity — kdefg @ 23:16

I used to write on this blog about reality.  I used to think a lot about the nature of reality.  I used to have time to ponder metaphysics and illusions and dreams. Then life became more mundane, and reality was simply real life.  I ran out of things to blog about.  Until today…

PROLOGUE:  Today started out simply enough.  I had the day off work and looked forward to spending time in front of the television catching up on a backlog of shows on the DVR.  I had a pile of laundry ready for sorting and washing.  I had websites to read, books to read, mail to read.  By noon, I had barely made a dent in most of those plans, having spent the morning reading forums online.  It was time for that cup of coffee I had promised myself.

INTRO:  I wanted to walk to Starbucks the way I used to, back in my days of unemployment. My feet have been hurting me more since I’ve been spending so much time on them — walking to work, standing at work, walking home again.  I dug into the back of a closet and found an old pair of hiking shoes, and marveled at how solid they felt compared to my worn-out sneakers. I put a load of shirts and socks into the washing machine, then headed out of the house.

SET-UP:  The walk was refreshing and immediately familiar. This was the path where I thought about the characters and setting of the last novel I worked on more than a year ago, during Camp NaNoWriMo last summer and again last November.  Lately I’ve been reading about ways to structure a story and how to create an outline, feeling more like a writer than ever, and looking forward to a new NaNoWriMo — my first as a plotter instead of a pantser.

FORESHADOWING:  When I reached Starbucks, a sign on the front door greeted me with this message:  “There’s a story in every coffee.” As it so happened, I was wearing a shirt I got from the American Red Cross which says, “Live a Story. Give a Story. Donate.”  In the parking lot out front, I had just passed a car with a bumper sticker which said, “writer.”  I believe the Universe was trying to get my attention.

PLOT TWIST:  Inside, I paid for my coffee and a muffin.  The cashier handed me $1.10 in change.  As I shifted the cash from one hand to the other, the dime slipped through my fingers.  I was intending to drop it into the tip jar anyway, but I couldn’t figure out where it had landed. It wasn’t on the counter or the floor, nor was it inside the pastry bag with my muffin.  The dime had vanished.  Maybe it fell into the display case, and maybe a worker would find it at the end of the day, but it was gone now.

CLIMAX:  I returned home.  Before settling down in front of the television to enjoy my coffee and muffin, I checked on the laundry.  I transferred the load of clean wet shirts and socks from the washer to the dryer.  My routine for this task includes clearing the lint traps and wiping the water seal around the door of the front-loader machine.  This time there was something besides hair and suds and water within the folds of that rubber gasket: a dime.  A shiny dime.

EPILOGUE:  A spooky feeling passed through me. For just a moment, I could believe that the Universe had teleported my dime from a shop three blocks away.  In the next fleeting moment, I wondered whether that would make an interesting premise for a new story.  My logical brain intervened and tried to explain away that dime as a stowaway in a clothing pocket — not from the most recent load, but the previous load of jeans.  Ridiculous! Who would believe such a story?

Reality has layers again.

2012 December 10 Monday

Things I Did Not Write About Today

Filed under: synchronicity — kdefg @ 17:21

I could claim that I took a week off after NaNoWriMo to recharge my batteries, step back, and take stock of where I am and where I want to be.  I could also just admit to being lazy.

I came across a factoid recently about a meteor strike in 2008.  It was the first time that an asteroid had been detected in space and tracked all the way to its impact on Earth.  People later found its debris in a desert because someone knew how to calculate its trajectory.  It amazed me to learn that this kind of basic science still has new milestones to achieve. (I could write about the discoveries which I still hope to see in my lifetime, but that just makes me feel old.)

On the same day that I had come across that blast from the recent past, the subject of the old Asteroids video game came up in conversation.   It seemed like a fun coincidence, so I jotted down a few thoughts with the intention of blogging about it.  Here I am, several weeks later, and I just found my notes, which amount to less inspiration than I imagined they would be at the time.  (I could write about arcade games, but I never spent very much time or money on them myself.)

Asteroids have shown up on my television a lot lately, as I watch a lot of programs about the coming apocalypse. As disasters go, an asteroid hitting Earth makes for some dramatic simulations.  I’m catching old science fiction movies and shows like Star Trek, in which asteroids are gloriously animated. (I could make a list, but that would be tedious.)

If you haven’t read it, I recommend “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell.  It is a science fiction novel which is mostly about first contact with another world, but it makes a plausible case for the use of an asteroid for transportation. (I could go on a tangent about how this was her first book, or how the screenplay adaptation is in limbo, or the progressive rock album devoted to its story, but I’ll be lazy and let you read the links instead.)

Will we travel to an asteroid within my lifetime? Will we mine it for resources? Will we nudge it out of its path or destroy it before it destroys us?  Will I live to see another milestone in astronomical research?  Or will I find something else to write about before then?


2012 September 25 Tuesday

Fishy Signs

Filed under: synchronicity — kdefg @ 23:17

Synchronicity is a personal thing, as I understand the definition. Two people might see the same objects or events occur in juxtaposition, and they may or may not both call it a coincidence.  It only becomes synchronicity in the mind of the one who sees an added layer of meaning or significance revealed in the moment.  For me, sometimes, synchronicity can simply be the Universe winking at me.

Sunday morning, early, more early than usual, I was up and about after getting very little sleep the night before.  I was already out in the driveway, pulling the car out, getting ready to make a long drive into the city.  As I closed the garage door, I noticed bits of trash on the pavement.  Our neighbors do not seem to respect the imaginary line which divides our properties, and I frequently find evidence of their litter on my side.

I picked up one bit, a dirty popsicle stick, planning to pitch it back into their yard, but my eyes caught a glimpse of text printed on the wood.  It was a riddle, the kind meant for grade school children to exchange and giggle over its cleverness.  I had heard this one before, and never thought it to be particularly funny.  For no particular reason, I decided to drop the stick back where I had found it, in my own driveway.

I got in my car, still operating on mental auto-pilot, and drove off in the direction of coffee.  I had to force myself to think about my eventual destination and which route into the city I should choose.  It was only in that moment of clarity that I made the connection — the riddle was a commentary on the event I was driving to!

What did the fish name its offspring?   GILL

Can you guess where I was headed?  It was the PKD Festival, organized by one David Gill.  Realizing that I had just seen the name GILL on a popsicle stick made me laugh.  Then the connection between Philip K. Dick and the symbol of a fish came to mind, and I was suddenly in awe at the Universe and its sense of humor. (If you don’t know about the significance of PKD and the fish symbol, click there for a quick description.)

I saw David many times over the course of that two-day festival, but I never got the chance to tell him about my revelation.  Fortunately, when I got home late on Sunday night, the popsicle stick was still there, waiting for me to pick it up again.  I’m saving it now, as a souvenir.

Christian Fish Symbol

Christian Fish Symbol

2012 June 14 Thursday

I Changes

Filed under: synchronicity — kdefg @ 22:29

Today was World Blood Donor Day, but I’m sure the World Health Organization would be happy if they got more than one day out of the year to spread the word about the need for more blood donors.  I had seen something on the local news about a critical shortage, and then I got an email from the Red Cross about scheduling an appointment.  I had not given blood in a few years, and took this as a nudge from the universe to step up.  It was quick, it was painless, and I didn’t even need an appointment.  (Your mileage may vary, as they say.)  I got some yummy cookies too, so I want to thank Keebler for providing snacks.

Going into the experience, I was expecting to come out the other side with a wonderful little nugget to write tonight.  I even figured I could give it a snappy title like “Blood Draw” (to echo my earlier “Gun Draw” entry), but it was all so uneventful that I’m reduced to rambling about cookies.  Maybe I’ll let it simmer in the back of my mind for a while longer and get a future fiction sprint out of it.

The real problem is that I have too much else on my mind this week.  I’ve been looking at my financial situation and wondering in which direction to take my next career move.  I’ve tried to assess my skills and interests, but they do not really align well with the job search tools I’ve been using.  Perhaps I should be seeking the advice of a guidance counselor. Instead, I am asking the I Ching for insights.  To hedge my bets, I’m comparing three different online oracles.  If this stuff is valid, I should get similar results, right?

To be fair to the method, I asked the exact same question of all three.  One displayed coins to throw for my reading, so where I was given a choice on another site I also chose coins (rather than yarrow sticks).  My question surrounds the choice I face between two different kinds of work, and I phrased it in a general and symbolic way.

The first oracle gave me the hexagram for ENTHUSIASM.  While this does not immediately tell me which kind of job I should be applying for, it does suggest that I should choose the path for which I have the most passion.  One path is familiar territory for me, while the other is something I think I would be good at but have never tried.  Would I be more enthusiastic for a new opportunity, or would I be fraught with fear of failure?  For this reading, the imagery was of thunder and chanting, and told me to use instinct over intellect.  It gave me no “changing lines” to project an outcome for either choice.

The second oracle gave me a different hexagram and two different answers, because this time I did throw lines of change.  In the present, it told me, my advantage is in remaining patient and solitary, waiting for the situation to evolve.  In the future, it said, change will bring both fear and smiles.  Again the imagery mentioned thunder, and told me not to be startled by it.  Bottom line: change is good.

The last oracle probably sensed that I was testing the universe, and so it gave me CONFLICT.  The language on the third website was harder for me to parse.  I could make the case that it was telling me that a little caution at first is fine, but too much hesitation will be a hindrance.  This could also be encouraging me to accept a new path without resistance, if it is resistance which is stopping me now.

I went ahead and answered three different job ads this week.  It’s probably too soon to expect a response.  It’s making me woozy just thinking about the possibilities.  I must remember to breathe.  After all, I’m down one pint of red blood cells now.




2012 June 9 Saturday

Existential Smorgasbord

Filed under: synchronicity — kdefg @ 11:33

Something is twitching in the fabric of the universe today.

Getting an early start on my morning chores, I decided to treat myself with a walk to a local coffee shop.  When I do this as a routine, I always take the same path through the neighborhood.  This morning there was a creepy old man with a loud transistor radio (those things still exist?) walking right past my house in the direction I normally take, so I crossed over to a parallel street.  By doing this, I found a yard sale with some unusual items that made me smile, which I would never have seen otherwise.  Thank you, mysterious stranger!

My route to the coffee shop rejoined my original path ahead of the creepy old guy who continued to slowly shuffle along behind me.  His radio was momentarily drowned out by the blare of music from a passing car, but the noise quickly faded away and I continued walking in the peaceful sunshine.  At the corner, a bicycle suddenly came up behind me and silently crossed the road with me, then disappeared.

At the coffee shop, there was a new girl behind the counter, instead of the usual Korean woman, whose face is the only one I’ve seen there in the past two years.  The girl commented to another customer that she had not worked the morning shift in a long time.  I got my coffee and retraced my steps back home.  At the corner, a bicycle suddenly came up behind me and silently crossed the road — the same man on the same old bicycle at the same corner, now going in the opposite direction.

My route also passes a row of newspaper boxes.  I picked up the free weekly press of local cultural interest.  On the cover was the word “Existence”; it was a book review of David Brin’s latest novel.  Before I left the house this morning, I was reading about a new television show on the nature of existence, so naturally this caught my eye.  I was getting the sense that the universe was nudging me somehow, so I remembered to mentally ask it what I should do about my lack of a career.  Looking down at the sidewalk, I saw a business card!  On the back was the following quote:

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” — Anatole France

Well.  I suppose now I have no choice but to follow-up and learn more about the company on the front of that business card, right?

By the way, that television program is called “Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design” (based on his book, I assume) and it airs tonight on the Discovery channel, three episodes in a row.  The description from the online TVGuide says, “The nature of reality and the meaning of life are explored in the opener of a series examining existential matters.”

I think I’ve had enough reality for one day, and the day isn’t even halfway begun yet.

2012 May 30 Wednesday

Meaningless Numbers

Filed under: synchronicity — kdefg @ 23:36

I’ve been reading more about Jung and his thoughts on synchronicity.  It turns out that I had not fully understood his theory.  The idea that coincidences have meaning is too simplistic.  In fact, it is counter-productive to notice a coincidence and then try to find meaning in it.

I’ve saved a few examples of coincidental numbers that cropped up this past month.  First there was a day when I went to my bank’s ATM to check my balance.  I saw a slip of paper on the ground and picked it up, and saw that it was the ATM receipt from the previous person’s transaction, with $1,339.xx shown as their account balance.  I then checked my own balance, and got a receipt showing $1,339.xx — the two values differed by twelve cents.

Other numbers jumped out at me this month.  I saw the string 55422 (I forget where) and thought it might have been from that “Amelia Sequence” from a television show, but 55124 would have been the correct match.  I read about an online story having 115 characters so far, and then read about an online forum having a gathering with 115 members registered to attend.  My family went shopping and bought a computer mouse, and in the parking lot I challenged them to remember the model number, just as we walked past a sign with the same 3-digit number.

None of those pairings held any real significance.  They didn’t trigger any transcendental awareness or reveal any hidden meaning.  These were simple coincidences, not examples of Jung’s synchronicity.  The fact that they were all numbers is because I’ve been looking for numbers, rather than letting the universe work its magic in whatever symbolism it chooses.

At the library today, I thumbed through a book by DeBell on “Spiritual Messages” which suggests that there is more going on at an unconscious level when synchronicity happens.  Jung talked about it in terms of the observer effect.  My psychic/emotional state is only one factor, added to the material circumstances present at the moment of an unexpected external event.  The inspiration or “aha” that I might receive is in relation to the thoughts on my mind at the time.  It is supposed to be a closed loop, with subtle and personal symbolism.  Any mere coincidence like numbers that anyone can see will only have meaning to the superstitious types.

I’ve picked up a few more books to read this week.  In the meantime, enjoy the random chaos of the universe.



2012 May 18 Friday

Snow Angels

Filed under: synchronicity — kdefg @ 16:36

I’m branching off a new category with this post.  I’ve mentioned synchronicity in the past and whether or not any meaning might come from such instances, but only in general terms.  I know there is at least one blog out there which suggests keeping a record of coincidences, and at least one website allows you to upload your own examples.  Keeping a journal of potentially synchronistic events for later analysis makes sense, as the significance of a coincidence might not be apparent right away.  Patterns take time to emerge, and my memory can be selective at times.  So, here is a category for things that I’ve encountered which may or may not be potential synchronicities.  We can look back later and laugh, whether or not any explanations or interpretations may follow.

First, let me set the stage. Yesterday I was talking about the static and snow which appears on a television screen when it receives no signal.  I think of it as black dots moving on a white background, which is why I questioned calling it snow, but I suppose it is more accurately dots of white light scattering on a black field of unlit pixels, swirling in the manner of a snowstorm.  I’ll go with that.

Then, more set-up. Just before bed, I had my television tuned to a program about angels, the history of belief in them and their appearances in various cultures.  Looking ahead to tonight’s television programming line-up, I saw that the “Ancient Aliens” show has an episode about people who say they receive messages from angelic beings.  Although I’ve been recently thinking about the mechanisms by which we might look for signs of communication from the Universe, I saw no significance in these shows airing now.

Today, the vision. I was out running an errand, driving my car in the neighborhood, when I passed an apartment building.  Someone had hung a banner on their balcony which said “Let It Snow”.  Well, that was certainly odd and out-of-place.  I’m in California not Alaska, and this is May not Christmas.  Perhaps they left this display up after the holidays, and I just had not noticed it until now?  That’s one of the key things about getting a message from The Matrix Universe, that element of having something suddenly brought to your attention as being out-of-place.

Then, the awakening. My mind laughed for a bit, remembering how I had just been talking about snow of another kind only the night before.  I wondered whether I was next due to be visited by an angel with a message only visible out of the corner of my eye.  And then the two words connected into a single thought: snow + angels = snow angels.  I was on high alert now.

Finally, the payoff. Driving back home after my errands, I noticed a man walking down the sidewalk towards me.  He had a large snow-white beard and was wearing a baseball cap with a team logo for the Angels.  My snow angel! OK, maybe not.  On rethinking what I actually saw, it did have a large ornate ‘A’ in the logo, but the colors were definitely for the Oakland Athletics.  I turned the A’s into the Angels because that’s what I was primed to see.

This is why I don’t trust the Universe to send me a message, because it will most certainly be garbled in transmission.


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