Today on The Mystical Underground, our guest was one of my favorite people, author and psychiatrist Bernard Beitman. He’s the first psychiatrist since Carl Jung to undertake a serious study of synchronicity. His book- Connecting with Coincidence- is one of the best I’ve read on synchronicity. The clarity with which he expresses himself is also evident in his podcast by the same name.
During the show today, we told Bernie about the best synchro we’ve ever had and he gave his take on it, which permanently changed the way I will think about synchros from now on. But first, here’s the synchronicity.
It was 1988. Rob and I traveled to Venezuela with my parents, the first time we’d gone back since my parents, sister, and I left that country and moved to the U.S. Our destination was the Gran Sabana, one of the most fascinating wilderness regions of the planet. Rob hauled around a clunky Radio Shack laptop computer and found time to work on the rewrite of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the novel adapted from the script. It was an ideal setting to be working on that novel – soaring buttes, waterfalls, forest, an area steeped in legends and myths.
From Gran Sabana, Rob and I flew on to Merida, an area in the mountains, and my parents returned to Caracas, where Rob and I were to catch our flight to Merida. The synchronicity happened while we waited in line for that flight.
At the time, the Colombian drug cartel had been using Caracas to export cocaine and the government was cracking down. All passengers had to carry their luggage so it could be checked before boarding the flight. Military guys were everywhere, all of them armed with assault rifles, and the atmosphere was tense, uneasy.
The guards were particularly interested in the man in front of us, a tall middle-aged Venezuelan. He wore a dark, three-piece suits and his only luggage was a briefcase. The guards were particularly interested in his briefcase and demanded that he open it. Slowly, the man unlatched it and the guards leaned forward to see what was inside. Since we were directly behind him, we leaned in also.
There was only one item in the briefcase – a paperback copy of one of my novels, Fevered, a title that described the environment. I used a pseudonym for the book, Alison Drake, so it wasn’t like I could tap the man on the shoulder and tell him the author was right behind him. Even if I’d had proof that I’d written the book, I was too shocked by the synchronicity to say anything.
Bernie’s take on this synchro fascinated me. He agreed it was stunning, then noted that synchronicities like that are clues from the matrix – which I interpreted to mean they’re bleed throughs in space/time about the nature of reality. But I couldn’t fully understand the clue or where it might lead unless I spoke to the man and asked why he was carrying that book. I never even thought to go after the man and ask. The environment wasn’t exactly conducive it – too many guns – but I could have caught up with him outside or looked for him once we got on the plane. I never saw him again.
But after talking with Bernie, I now wonder if that synchronicity presaged big changes in our lives. Less than a year later our daughter, Megan was born, six weeks after that we moved into our first house, Rob’s novelization of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade hit the NY Times bestseller list, and he got a contract from LucasFilms to write six prequels to the novelization. I got another two-book contract from Ballantine.
A year later, in 1990, my editor, Chris Cox, died of AIDS. He had bought my first novel and launched my career as a writer. He had also traveled to the Amazon with us when Rob and I were leading travel writer tours to Colombia and Peru through Avianca Airlines. He was a complete original, a Virgo with a wry sense of humor, and my editor for 10 books. I adored him.
His death spelled the end of my time with Ballantine and marked a “feverish” time to find a new publisher. My agent, Diane Cleaver, did her magic, and I went to Hyperion for the last three books in the series I’d started at Ballantine. It was my first time in hardback. And I was at Hyperion just for those three.
A year later, I still hadn’t sold anything and Diane, who had been my agent for 15 years, had run into personal problems. I realized I might need a new agent and started calling writer friends. It’s not easy to split from an agent who took you on before you’d published anything and stuck with you through five unpublished books. But we needed income. So in 1994, she and I split and less than a year later she died, age 53.
That’s a period of six to seven years after that powerful Fevered synchronicity. I don’t know how far out in space/time something like this might go, but those events came to mind. From now on, whenever I experience a synchronicity large or small, I’m going to be on the alert for the essential clue and and what it reveals about the matrix. And if others inadvertently are players in the synchro, I will now chase after them, waving my arms. Hey, hold on, may I ask you some questions? And I’ll always wonder what the tall guy with the briefcase might have said.