Several years ago, we wrote about our trip to a Scottish festival in Orlando and the synchronicity that occurred. The synchro seemed to suggest I should take a particular path with one of my novels. Here’s the recap of what happened:
One brisk day in January 2010, we drove up to Orlando to attend the Scottish festival – a great outdoor event with bands playing bagpipes, men in kilts, and games dating back centuries. Various Scottish clans – like the MacGregors, the clan that was being honored at this year’s event — had tents set up with refreshments and information about the history of the clan.
In addition to the kilts and the Scottish brogue, there were men and women in Renaissance and Goth clothing and plenty of tattoos to go around. As Rob remarked as we were exploring, it was the sort of place where you could be a time traveler and not draw any attention at all.
As soon as he said this, it struck me that I could easily set a scene here in the novel I was working on. It was the second in a trilogy that began with Esperanza, which would come out in September 2010, and takes place primarily in Ecuador. I suddenly considered using characters from two time travel novels I’d written a few years earlier – Kill Time and Running Time.
While I toyed with the possibilities, we stopped at one tent that was selling historical clothing. I was drawn to a particular shirt and when I looked at the tag, I burst out laughing. The tag read: Time Travelers, Made in Ecuador. That’s the shirt in the photo. It seemed like a clear confirmation that I should combine the two series.
I went to work on a proposal and a few weeks later, passed the idea by my editor. She nixed it, said that time travel novels don’t sell. I initially wrote this one off to a trickster.In retrospect, three years later, trickster doesn’t quite explain it. Perhaps my focus on the novel drew me to the shirt with that particular tag – what Abraham/ Hicks would call the law of attraction. Or perhaps the synchronicity was simply addressing an alternate creative path that might or might not work out.
Bewildered, I emailed Bernard Beitman, a visiting professor of psychiatry at University of Virginia, who has written on coincidence for psychiatric journals and is writing a book on synchronicity. I told him the story and asked what he thought about synchros like this. His response is interesting:
“I’m now calling coincidences like this one–instrumental coincidences–a means to an end. Here you got a ‘writerly’ coincidence, I just had a neat one–I was wondering what to write for the next paragraph, scanned the New York Times as I usually do when I’m stuck or want a break and there was the next paragraph.
“Your coincidence like mine, like so many instrumental coincidences, act as confirmations of what you are thinking about strongly but not necessarily the choice you should make. You are presented an option-or feel confirmed about a decision. But that still does not mean you should make the choice that seems to be suggested.
“Also, your editor could have been wrong.”
He noted that he was planning a chapter on how to use coincidences and that my question was a central question. “Your email is a meta-coincidence: a coincidence about a coincidence.”
So the next time I start to attribute a synchro to the trickster, I intend to take a closer look. I believe Bernard is onto something about choices, alternate paths and decisions. Perhaps it’s like Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken.