We live in a collective sea of signs and symbols. Nature, the universe, Source, God, whatever you want to call it, constantly chatters to us. But we’re so mired in the business of physical life that we don’t always hear that voice. Or we hear it and ignore it. Or we hear it and think, Yeah, sure, I’m kinda losing it here.
You’re in your car. Maybe you’re on a road trip. Or picking up your son or daughter from school. Or maybe you’re backing out of your garage to head off to the library, the park, a friend’s house. Your car dies. It just goes flat out dead. What do you do besides call AAA? Your spouse? A friend?
When our daughter was in elementary school, Rob and I had an arrangement. He would take her to school because he was the lark, up at the crack of dawn, and I would pick her up in the afternoon because I’m an owl, rarely in bed before one or two. On this particular day, I was in the pickup line and my car suddenly went dead. There I was, my car refusing to move, cars behind me honking because hey, why wasn’t I moving forward?
In those days, I had a clunky mobile phone, called Rob, and he came over and jumped the car. We got Megan home. There was a message on our answering machine from a writer friend. The literary agent we’d had for 15 years had died suddenly of a heart attack.
Standstill. The battery dies. The car has to be jumped started.
If there are no accidents, as Robert Hopke theorizes in his book by the same name, then the death of the car coinciding with our hearing about the death of this agent isn’t random. This connection, this experience, though, has puzzled me because we had left this agent eight months earlier. I did, in fact, become somewhat superstitious after this about departure, about ending relationships. Less than a year after Kate Duffy, my editor at Kensington, didn’t renew my contract, she died.
Just how are all of us, the dead and the living, connected, anyway? How are we connected to the larger world beyond us? I think of it as synchronicity, that phenomenon that exists between what we see and what we sense, that border between what quantum physicist David Bohm called the implicate (enfolded) order and the explicate (unfolded) order. The inner, the outer. Right brain, left brain.
I’m pretty sure, though, that the next time my car battery goes dead, that I find a dead frog in house (frogs here) that something unexpectedly good happens, signs and symbols will hold a much different importance for me.