Friday, December 12, 2008

When the universe musses your hair

I like to refer to coincidences as "secret handshakes from the universe". Sometimes, however, a series of coincidences feel more like an unseen hand slamming a door in your face, over and over. Whether positive or negative, coincidences serve as homing beacons, helping us to know whether we are on the right path or need to make a course correction - provided, of course, that we stop saying that coincidence is "only" coincidence.

The celebrated law of attraction is at work in all this, because mind reaches to mind and mind and matter interact at every level of the multiverse. But there are a couple of things we need to know about how the law of attraction really works. For starters, like attracts like - but it can also attract unlike (isn't that true of plenty of marriages?). More important, if we set our sights on something - weight loss, money, success in any field - from the limited perspective of the conscious ego, we may find we get an outcome that is very different from what the "daily trivial mind" thinks that it wants. The magic happens when the natural wisdom of the body joins up with the larger agenda of the higher self, and hook up the ego to an agenda beyond its wit.

Last night a successful and gifted screenwriter raised another most interesting question about how to read synchronicity (a word Jung made up because he was fed up with people saying "it was only coincidence"). Rod wanted to know why he has not yet succeeded in bringing his favorite projects to the screen, even though he's felt a strong sense of endorsement from the play of synchronicity around him while he was working on those scripts. Here's part of what Rod said to me:

I just picked up your wonderful book "The Three Only Things". I've been studying synchronicity for about ten years looking for answers to a mystery that's been going on in my life. Ten years ago I got serious about my passion -- screenwriting. I sold two scripts during that time, one was made.

But here's the curious thing...I wrote over twenty screenplays during that time, and just like your "Indiana Jones" incident, I got AMAZING synchronicities EVERY TIME I started one. But here's my question... Why didn't they sell? This question haunts me. I get these astonishing series of signs, like a heavenly "thumbs up" -- and I write them...and they don't sell. What am I missing here?

I gave Rod this initial response:

1. We must never confuse value with valuation. The first is what makes something intrinsically worthwhile and of enduring importance. The second is what controls buying and selling in the marketplace.
2. It's the journey, not the destination, that matters. I'll bet you had some grand creative moments bringing through the scripts that haven't sold - YET.
3. Notice the YET. Sometimes we need to wait for a wave to catch up with us. (This has certainly been my own story for much of my life.) Scripts so far unsold may find a producer, yet.
4. Put on a performance - no, lots of performances - of your best unsold script for yourself, your friends, anyone willing to take part. Use a living room, an old hall, whatever. Get it OUT THERE.
5. Continue to put your questions to the world (through our coincidence game) and to your dreams by setting an intention for the night). Maybe you'll get your answer.
6. Keep your hand writing, or your fingers tapping that keyboard. It's what writers do.

I suggested to Rod that the universe may have given him a great idea for another movie, about a guy who tries to navigate by synchronicity and work the law of attraction, but seems to be rebuffed - at least until a twist in the tale that might reveal a deeper logic of events.
Then it occurred to me that while coincidences may feel like secret handshakes, or like a trickster pulling the rug from under us, they sometimes feel like an unseen hand mussing our hair. This is irritating for most kids after a certain age, but may reflect a benign intent that will deliver a fabulous gift later on.

There's more. When the universe gives us a clear message, we may be required to act on it. I'm not talking about Rod now, but about myself, in relation to the "Indiana Jones" incident to which he refers. I was given amazing confirmation - through an unlikely series of coincidences during a plane trip - that I ought to write a ripping adventure involving Winston Churchill, time travel, and occult battles during World War II. I have yet to write that book. But I did make a sideways approach, with a chapter in my new book The Secret History of Dreaming titled "Winston Churchill's Time Machines" that starts with the dream in which Winston received a visitation from his father, Lord Randolph, seeking an update on the state of the world fifty years after his death.


Unknown said...

You probably knew this was up my alley. After writing 16 novels and having only published four, I can relate to the situation. It's funny about money that we use it as a way to prove our worth. Yet few people have a hobby that they pursue with passion and expect it to 'pay off.' And one of the things that I catch myself doing is wishing for a wider audience when often the widest audience means that you're writing to the lowest common denominator. The alternative, of course, is to write with the passion and interest that is within you -- whether it pays off or not. And, as you say, it could just be the timing. Your audience will arrive, just not yet.

Robert Moss said...

Hey Terry, I greatly admire your constancy in pursuing your passion for writing. When people complain to me about "writer's block", I often quote the wonderful one-liner you delivered at one of our gatherings: "I don't do blocks." It's interesting for any writer to ask: "Who am I writing for?" the answer may vary widely from one book or story to the next. It's nice to feel the traction of people (hopefully including publishers) eagerly awaiting the next production. But at the end of the day, we may bring through our best work for ourselves, and our characters, and the creative daimon who will not leave off goading us. Then we'll hope that the publishing world will catch up - which can take a while, since (as I said to one of my favorite editors the other day) just as generals are forever fighting the last war, publishers are forever trying to reproduce the last hot book.You are a terrific writer, with a terrific daily practice, and the world WILL find you!

Unknown said...

Robert, this blog comes at a time that I really need encouragement. The idea of value and valuation is something I really need to think about. I'm feeling so discouraged about my work. It's not that I have "blocks" or whatever, I'm just not selling my work as much as I want to be. I'm getting good feed back.....and I'm very objective when it comes to my work, I've learned to do so....

Thanks for the creative nudge and nod.

wfleet said...

Your new book is waiting for me at dear EastWest Bookstore, but I haven't gotten to pick it up yet. However, your post reminds me of a book Mother gave me more than 40 years ago. It was called Morning of the Magicians and it was one of my first glimpses into occult worlds. (I was lucky to have a stepfather who gave me fathomless depths in the more rational and psychological worlds -- Socrates, Jung. But it was Mother with the Seth books and Morning of the Magicians who started my OtherLands studies & journeys.) Morning talked about the strange worlds of the Nazi occult beliefs. That they sent their soldiers into Russia with no heavy winter clothing because they believed that the Forces of Fire would defeat the Forces of Ice, or somesuch. It was all so mysterious and intriguing. I look forward to your Churchill material.

Nancy said...

The universe literally mussed my hair today by dropping melting ice from a tree on my head when I was walking. This led me here. I am reminded of my growing awareness, regarding my vision improvement work & the Alexander Technique, that the process is most important. A daily practice reinforcing & honoring whatever matters to you, be it writing or fitness or art or better eyesight, yields much more than end-gaining does. This is a big change for a lifelong over-achiever, but feels much more natural, relaxing, & enjoyable. It's lovely & magical when "the right thing does itself".