The experience of meaningful coincidence can come like a slap in the face or a passionate embrace. It can leave you gasping, knowing that the universe has become very personal and is speaking directly to you. Such big encounters with the deeper order, in which there is really no separation between mind and matter, can leave you stunned, or aroused.
However, I love the smaller encounters with synchronicity that may do no more than give a little fizz or tickle to the day. When I am home, I start my morning by walking my little dog up a street of brownstones in a small city to the park where we take a path around a lake. Coming and going, I'm mildly alert - in a relaxed, undemanding way - for signs and symbols from the world about us.
I will note the first kledon of the day. "Kledon" is the Greek word for speech or sounds coming out of silence. I wrote here recently about how deeply I was aroused by a man whistling for his dog who made what sounded to me like the call of a rainbird.
Today's little story starts with a kledon from the path around the lake. "Gotta to try for the big one!" the cheery mother of a large family greets me. They have set up a veritable fishing camp on the path round the lake: canvas fold-out chairs, hampers, rods and reels, jars of bait, drinks and snacks. I've never seen anything big that has gills and fins caught in this lake, but then there are many kinds of "big ones" in life.
Walking my dog back from the park, I'm open to playing what I call Sidewalk Tarot. This means noticing things that pop up on the street - a kid's chalk drawing on the sidewalk, the logo on a van, a dropped coin or earring or an abandoned shoe - and seeing whether they are offering a message or image for the day, or at least the moment.
I notice the huge fish banner flapping from a brownstone near my home. It's been here for a couple of weeks, but today, as it blows back and forth, it seems to reinforce the theme that we want to try for the Big One. At the least, there is something fishy going on.
Just down the block, a young man is strumming a guitar on one side of a car, singing what sounds like an original - but imperfect - composition. His girlfriend watches and listens from the other side of the car, which is full of stuff. They are moving in, or moving out. Could be a big one.
A few paces further, and I come to the Reject Books of the day. In my neighborhood, where there are quite a few transient college kids, unwanted books are frequently left out on stoops or steps or on the sidewalk, So I have made Reject Books a subcategory of my Sidewalk Tarot.
Today's spread is pretty interesting. It takes no imagination to see the books laid on on a neighbor's steps as a five-card spread. What do we have here? A princess card, surely (lower left). The suit of Jewels is dominant. Is that Children's Bible the Hierophant, or High Priest? Is "I Do" the Lovers card?
I love outrageous correspondence, when we know we are dancing or teetering on the mythic edge, and that the powers of the world-behind-the-world are poking or thrusting through the curtain walls of our limited everyday understanding. I love it when I walk into a bookstore in Boulder to read from some of mythic poems and am greeted by a young woman named Athena who introduces me to Odysseus. I am thrilled and chilled when a fox-cursed demon driver takes me half-way over a cliff in the Carpathian mountains. I can never forget what it meant to me when I had written down a theme for guidance that included the name "Indiana Jones" and a man dressed as Indiana Jones sat down next to me on a plane, a story I tell in full detail in my book The Three "Only" Things.
Yet I also love the little patterns of resemblance and connection, the way life rhymes in smaller ways. Noticing these things is essential to poetic health, and we need poetic consciousness to come fully alive to the rhyming universe.
It's enough for me, for now, that I have my bumper sticker for the day: Gotta Try for the Big One. Yes, ma'am.
Sequel: Landing the Big One
The next morning, I come upon another fisherman, casting his line from a gap in the bull rushes at the western end of the lake. "Have you ever caught anything in this lake?" I ask him.
"Oh yeah. I just caught a bass as big as my tackle box. The biggest fish I ever caught in my life."
The tackle box is large and chunky. A bass that size would certainly be a Big fish. My inner skeptic tells me I'm listening to a wannabe fisherman's wishful tale. I have never seen anyone catch anything big in these waters.
I am rounding the end of the lake when I hear shouts, "Hey! Hey! I got one!"
I can't see clearly through the rushes, but when I walk a little further on I see the fisherman hoisting his rod high in the air, for me to see what he's hooked. That fish really is as long as his tackle box. He unhooks the fish and lets it drop back in the water.
Has he got a bass trained to appear on command? Is this the Law of Eternal Return (in two senses)?
Whatever. I'll carry yesterday's catch phrase with me today. "Gotta Try for the Big One."
A snatch of Ovid returns to me.
Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.