Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 76: Synchronicity (or Philosophical musings on a Friday night)

I was at a networking event for actors last night: Act Outside the Box (it was great -- check it out if you're in the biz and in NYC!).  I was invited as an "industry" guest, which made for a very interesting experience: all these actors approaching me as someone important.  I'm used to being the one trying to do the schmoozing, not to being the one being schmoozed! 

I met a very interesting fellow there, and we got into a deep discussion about the life of an artist: the endless struggle for balance; how to relax and give yourself space to be able to open up to fuller, more vulnerable artistic expression; when it is worth it to work for free because of what else a project gives you.  He said several times "this is an important conversation we are having."  Indeed it was.  It was wonderful to meet a kindred spirit.  We both had kind of dragged ourselves there and ended up with a delightful new friend.  At some point I said "this is clearly what this evening is about tonight." 

I always kind of wonder at myself when I say things like that: "the universe is clearly trying to tell me something", "I was meant to be here tonight",  etc.  As an atheist, I don't believe in an invisible sentient hand that is trying to direct me down some kind of divine path.  But sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if I did, if there were some way to make sense of everything, if there were one right answer out there for me to find.

The Artist's WayIn the Artist's Way (I swear I'm not getting a commission from her, I just love the book!), Julie Cameron talks at length about synchronicity.  Some people chalk it up to coincidence, others call it fate or the universe's master plan; some people call it God.  She gives several examples, like:  "a woman admits to a buried dream of acting.  At dinner the next night, she sits beside a man who teaches beginning actors."  That sort of thing.

Ms. Cameron calls this synchronicity God.  She goes to great lengths to explain that it doesn't have to be the Christian god, just some kind of all-powerful, all-knowing force.  She feels that belief in such a force is empowering: "If we do, in fact, have to deal with a force beyond ourselves that involves itself in our lives, then we may have to move into action on those previously impossible dreams."   She says that not believing in such a power is a way of disempowering ourselves: "If there is no God, ... we can feel quite justified in declaring certain things impossible."

I feel quite the opposite.  Despite my temptation to believe in it, belief in a divine force with some kind of master plan is quite anxiety-producing for me.  Perhaps that is because I am not a person of limiting beliefs: I have always believed the sky was the limit and the world was my oyster (by age 16 I had written my campaign slogans for when I would be running for election as the first woman president of the US).   Even if I don't call it god, but instead something like "the universe", it leads me to thinking there is a master plan, one right thing I'm supposed to be doing, one path that will lead me to greatness -- if only I could find the damn road map. It makes me doubt my choices, makes me second-guess, makes me afraid of doing the wrong thing.  Or rather of not doing the right thing. Which leads to the paralysis of trying to push through too many doors at once (and not being able to open any of them) instead of just putting all my energy behind opening one door and actually opening it.  'Cause what if it's the wrong door?

However, I do believe in the power of positive thinking.  I do believe in "putting things out there" -- that if I state out loud to the world something I want to happen, it is far more likely to happen.  But I don't think it is because some external force hears me utter those words.  I think it is more likely that by stating a goal or intention, all of the inner workings of my brain are primed to help make that thing happen.  Having a clear intention helps the brain to pick out the relevant opportunities amongst the infinite data bits it takes in everyday.  We process things on a level more complex and deep than anything we can break down consciously, the way a baseball player doesn't need to know calculus to figure out the speed and trajectory of the ball hurtling towards him in order to be able to hit it out of the park.  If I tell "the universe" what I want, I'm more likely to make the infinite little choices that might take me down the path that actually has the metaphorical pot of gold at the end.

Of course, even this thinking can be a little dangerous sometimes, because if I don't end up getting what I want, does that mean i just didn't believe hard enough?  I didn't say it loud enough?  I somehow screwed up?  I wrote "I am a famous opera singer" in an affirmation journal every day for 5 years or more.  I definitely put what I wanted out to the universe, but it didn't happen.  Is that because it wasn't supposed to happen?  Which would mean I was doing the wrong thing all that time?  Which means I wasted all those years?  I don't think it would do me a damn bit of good to think that.

I choose instead to just believe in the power of me.  That is something I can (almost) always be sure of. 
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