the meaningful and co-incidental occurrence of events that seem related, but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality.
about me / teapots happen
In January of 2006 I hiked to the end of Tomales Point – the northernmost point of the landmass on the western side of the San Andreas Fault.
Over the course of the 10-mile hike, on the way away from civilization, among herds of wild elk, with cliffs to the sea on either side, buffeted by LSD, sunshine, and salty wind, the hike quickly took on deeply spiritual overtones and became a “Pilgrimage.”
By the time we reached the point, I was experiencing a full-blown “mystical experience,” as all distinctions between all things dissolved.
My normal, limited perception of time, the boundaries between self and the universe, between “out there” reality and “in here” consciousness – it all was stripped away, leaving me awestruck at the infinitely connected Oneness of all things.
It sounds hippy-dippy, I know, but it felt more real than anything I have ever experienced, and there was simply no way to deny it.
On the way back toward civilization, coming down slightly from the peak experience, I began trying to integrate this new perspective into my limited human life and outlook.
The main “take away” was about the importance and validity of Intuition – I’d previously discovered that Reason alone cannot help answer any of the truly important questions in life – but had been at a loss when trying to figure out how to proceed from there. The realization that all things were profoundly and mysteriously interconnected opened the door to all kinds of possibilities, with only one way to navigate through them – intuition, continual leaps of faith, trust in myself and in the universe.
However, this flew in the face of all I’d believed – or more precisely, disbelieved, for so long, in my formative years as a hardcore rationalist.
For years I had steeped in a nihilistic, meaning-denying atheism based in a fundamentalist hyper-rationalism, in which all faith was a crutch for weak-minded people, and spirituality was a bunch of feel-good make-believe for people unable to face their own meaningless mortality.
Powerful as the experience on Tomales Point was, the new perspective it gave me soon came under sustained assault by my habitual well-honed skepticism and doubt. I quickly found myself struggling to hold onto the meaning and beauty I had known to be True back in California.
Is the universe really magical – or at least interconnected enough to be indistinguishable from magic?
Does consciousness exist more or less locked up in the black box of the skull, or does it interact with reality directly in ways that cannot be accounted for by a narrow reductionist/materialist perspective?
Could intuition really be a useful compass for navigating reality?
Questions like these were constantly, heavily on my mind in the days following my return to habitual life in Minneapolis.
Then, the week I got back from California, I went to a thrift store with my friends, where I found myself powerfully and pointlessly drawn to purchase an old aluminum teapot.
I had no idea why the heck I liked it (it was missing a strainer and I didn’t drink tea, anyway) – but in the spirit of following my intuition, as I’d vowed to do in the aftermath of my mystical experience, I could not resist. So I bought it, telling my friends that “I don’t know why, but I just feel like I want this in my house.”
The teapot came home, and I tried to wrest some meaning from it … but as the days passed and nothing meaningful or even interesting came to pass, I inevitably began to accept that I hadn’t been hearing the voice of mystical intuition when I bought it, after all – I’d just been stoned at the thrift store, and bought some shiny junk.
One day the following week, I signed the papers to buy the house I’d been renting for 8 years – no longer worried about this major transition, thanks in large part to the perspectives I had acquired during my mystical experience on Tomales Point.
Later that same evening, I suddenly decided I was going to explore the crawlspace under the back stairs – which, bizarrely, I had never even looked into during the last 8 years – in spite of my primary passion for exploring places hidden, forgotten, and underground.
As I crawled beneath the stairs, I felt something hard in the soft dirt beneath the plastic sheeting – a kinda domed bulge, sticking up slightly above ground level.
So I wormed one arm under the plastic, and probed the mystery object, which was embedded in the dirt. Carefully pulling it out, I twisted onto my back to examine it with the flashlight.
It was a teapot I’d discovered – ancient-looking, aluminum, covered in white corrosion, missing its handle, powdered grime pouring from the spout …
… and identical to the teapot I’d just been compelled to buy.
It seemed inescapable; I had asked the universe if I could really believe in intuition, in, essentially, magic … and the universe had answered with a resounding “yes” – in the form of “synchronicity.”
After the teapots, I started paying a lot more attention to coincidences. I wrote down several of the stories in various places – emails, social network sites, etc – and in 2007 or so I decided to try to compile them all into one place.
Some clearly seemed like synchronicity, others like mere coincidences – most were somewhere in between – sometimes they seemed likely to be mere, random co-incidences … but other times, it seemed possible or even probable that they were evidence of mysterious connections.
That list of synchronicities and coincidences was the seed that this blog has sprouted from.
Once I had them compiled, I felt compelled to share them, open them up to the world, and see what might come from it (the same compulsion that led me to post the Teapot story on my urban exploration website, even though I was embarrassed to be discussing such “new-age hippie” thoughts in public).
So this blog is my exploration of synchronicity – I’ll be writing up the experiences I’ve had over the past few years, new ones as they come up – and whatever thoughts seem worth sharing on the way.
Where we wind up should be interesting – stay tuned.
Crawlspace Exploration (original writeup on ActionSquad.org)