Synchronicity and solitude

I am a person who needs time alone to think.

Not to surf, or shop, or paint (lost the alliteration on that last one, sorry), but to think.  I’m reminded of an article in the New York Times after Obama’s election but before his actual transition, noting the importance of making sure his staff left him with time to think.  Not talking or acting or debating, but solitary thinking, because as a cerebral, analytical person, he’d need that.

I’m one of those people.  Not just cerebral or analytical, certainly, but a thinker.  Suddenly I realize my Annual Summer Crises of Self might be because, in the summer, I have less quiet time to think.  Winter brings dreary days and long nights, perfection to a person who likes to read and cuddle.  Summer, not so much.  We go, go, go from morning until the very late sundown, rushing to finish projects and get to some unattainable resting point (often embodied by the idea of a cold beer and steak on the grill).  By the time we get there (in reality, a couple of tired empty-brained people scarfing dinner while only managing polite chit-chat), we can’t wait to zone out in front of something mindless (internet for me, Halo for him) before we medicate and fall into a dreamless (or bad dream-filled) stupor, only to start all over again the next day.

It’s no surprise, I suppose, that every summer I fall into a frustrated discontent with my husband and our life.

So I’m trying to be more aware, hoping to avoid a massive meltdown as in years previous.  Last year we almost split up.  Right, not two months into our marriage, he moved out for a few days.  Two years ago, we had the big Engagement Delay, wherein he didn’t get around to proposing and I lost my shit regularly.  Three years ago… well, that was the year we started dating, so late summer was blissful and productivity-free.  But I’d just emerged from an ugly, ugly break-up and was dealing with the fallout at work (hi, I dated a coworker).  Four years ago, I lived in Chicago and hated my life.  Five years ago, I left my husband in August.

Summers suck (although they also tend to spur the growth I feel every fall – like last year, when after a really shitty August I declared September to be Bright Side month, which was great).  And because this year I’m trying not to lose my shit, I’m trying to be aware of the chasm I’m about to step into.

Back to my point: when I have solitary time to think, I notice the awesomeness of synchronicity.

Synchronicity: the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner.

Last week I couldn’t sleep, so I pulled up the least action-packed book on my Kindle: Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star.  I love Martha Beck, but her thoughtfulness and it’s impact on your life is so dense, I find she’s more digestible in magazine article format.  But, hey, I couldn’t sleep, so I thought, what the heck, here’s a book I haven’t finished.  The page I opened talked about synchronicity.

A few days ago, Gretchen linked to (referenced? interviewed?) a memoirist who wrote a book about her faith and dating life, something about how God helped her find a husband.  I bought the subsequent book (in under two minutes on my Kindle, of course) and it’s fantastic.  Because I’m not someone who prays to Jesus, I read it with the same fascination as I read Jon Krakauer’s books about mountaineering. Gretchen links to many, many people, not one of which I ever look into.  This one, on this day, caught my attention.

Then yesterday, I sent a lengthy existentially angsty email to my best friend ever (for good reason, watch…) and she replied with a thorough consideration of my concerns.  Buried in the awesomeness of everything she said was this: “All of the things you describe ‘that you WANT to be doing’ have a spiritual quality.  Discontent cannot be quieted only externally.”

Discontent cannot be quieted only externally!

This morning, on day two of my self-imposed sick days, I saw a post by one of my favorite bloggers titled, “Old Time Religion.” (read the full post… it’s wonderful)

The wrong kind of church is the one that has all your answers, I would tell her. On the radio I hear some woman plugging her book to Diane Rehm all about the importance of taking children to church, if only to give them ritual, to give them something to wrestle with when they’re old enough to question belief. I nodded. I do not want to raise her in the Church of Smug Secular Humanism, to think she already has all the answers. We never go to church, true, but we do not want her to think people who do are silly.

Yes, yes, YES! I thought.  I don’t want answers, exactly, but rather to have the conversations about the questions.  When I tell my husband I yearn for “real” conversations, he’s confused by the term.  “Aren’t we conversing right now? At dinner? Every night?” Yes.  We are, but about answers, not questions.  I like (need) to delve into the unanswered parts of my life.

This is who I am, when I feel like I’m most myself at my best, searching for the right words to analyze the murky feelings.


Three days, three religion-related events, three signs.  When I take the time to be by myself and think, I find the quietness that allows me to notice synchronicity, one of my very favorite things in the whole world, one I’d forgotten about until that night I couldn’t sleep.

When I was ready for a real relationship, the love of my life sat next to me at a bar, both of us there only because we were sick and tired of our lives.  We each found someone so similar and so strange, we couldn’t help but stick around through fights and growing up and more fights.  In my quiet moments, I realized the faces of my future children looked just like his, so I tried to believe.  Now we’re here, in a resting place so calm and wonderful, I can’t help but want to muck it up with… something.  So I sit, quietly and alone, trying to pray my way out of it.

{Tomorrow: more on that whole “praying” thing.}

I love synchronicity so much, I’d love to hear your stories.  I completely understand that it’s explainable — we see what we pay attention to and we pay attention to what’s on our minds — but I love it anyway.  It feels like proof, if only that everything we are looking for is out there somewhere if only we can see it.  Can you relate?


One thought on “Synchronicity and solitude

  1. I do relate. I met my husband at church in July 2004, but we both started going to that church on the exact same weekend in January 2004. But we didn’t meet until we were meant to meet, which is hard at our church because it’s small (about 250 regular attenders). How is it possible that we didn’t meet until over six months later? WE HAVE THE SAME FRIENDS. Weird.

    Thanks for the interesting links in this entry.

    It never occurred to me that folks might feel restless and discontent in the summer, but you articulate that well. For what it is worth, I am enjoying your candor AND the transformation of your basement.

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