Ch01.Blog34 It’s your life; write it the way you want
I always like the idea that I’ll run into someone I know in a random location. Or I’ll see a street sign with my name on it on my way to an audition. Or someone will give me a book as a present that they could not have known I had been wanting to read. Along with a pleasing sense of symmetry, I feel like these events might just mean the Universe is letting me know I’m on the right track.
As humans, by nature, we are pattern-seeking creatures. We search for patterns and then we assign them meaning. And what are we doing when we place meaning on something? We’re choosing how we live. We are actively gravitating toward the things we choose.
There are a range of possible explanations for what people consider a coincidence, including the law of large numbers and what our perception of probability is in the first place.
How many people do you think you need to ask to find two people with a matching birthday? 367? More? In fact, you only need 23 people for a 50% chance of a match, and up that to 75 for a 99.9% probability. So if you want to ignore any sense of synchronicity in your life, go right ahead, there are plenty of reasons to do just that. But ignoring the opportunity to investigate the whys and wherefores won’t help you understand your own existence any better.
Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work, talks about this idea he heard once, that life is like a movie you’ve turned up to 20 minutes late and you’re trying to figure out what’s going on. Who’s the hero? Where’s the plot? What are my lines??
And it made me think about how we do make those decisions.
Some people search outside themselves for affirmation that they’re on the right path, but I am not content to wait for events to align to give me permission to move forward. Or hang around for some kind of deus ex machina confirmation of my existence; waiting for the Gods to arrive on stage to give me a big thumbs up before I do whatever is next. Maybe that’s more than enough for some people, but not for me.
I’m not advocating the opposite either. I’m all for self awareness, but I think if we spend too much time on internal examination we become stuck in our intellect with no clear path forward.
I’d like to throw two ideas into the ring here.
1. When Carl Jung coined the term ‘synchronicity’ he was describing the occurrence of two events, one psychological (inner) event and one physical (outer) event, resulting in a moment of high emotion that engenders insight and action.
2. I recently studied with Walton Wilson from the Yale School of Drama who, in his discussion of approach to scene work, said something that I think applies to life and art equally. He said: “Don’t be in control. Be in charge.“
As actors we know from our first line how the scene will end but we will strangle the life of the story if we try to be in control of every moment. However, we can be in charge. We’re the only ones that can choose how to speak our lines. We’re the only ones that will tell this particular story in this particular way, and provide meaning to the events as they unfold.
This is your story.
You choose the hero. You decide the plot. You are the only one who really knows what is going on inside you and how that aligns with the external world. And you provide the synchronicity between these inner and outer states. You are the meaning of this particular tale, so don’t be afraid to be the God in your own machine.
You’re writing this story. Write it the way you want.