Monday, August 11, 2008


Where Coincidences Come From
I say it so often; it’s a mantra.
Synchronicity rules my life. Meaningful coincidences have guided me at every turn. They are the bandstand for playing the symbols. The ability to see them is a special vision we develop from raising our eyes to the sky, arms outstretched, pleading, “How about a hint?” Coincidences are the hint and the heavens are the right source.

“There are no coincidences,” various spiritual teachers of mine have pronounced flatly. Author
Anne Lamott calls coincidences God showing off. Meg Lundstrom, another writer, says they’re a wink from the Cosmos. While I’ve gotten good at noticing them in my own life—yesterday I experienced something completely different. I was the coincidence.

Synchronicity Vortex (Not in
Sedona, AZ)
I was on a food mission, a snack mission to be exact. In order to have a double scoop of Baskin & Robbins, I had to hit the ATM machine at Safeway. Perhaps you’ll remember that Safeway is Sync City for me. (See my
Yellow Highlighter post.). It’s a Las Vegas where I hit the jackpot of cosmic alignment recently, right next to the money machine.

Snack Indecision, Psychic Indigestion
As long as I was at the grocery store, anyway, I figured I’d replenish my microwave popcorn supply. Because of my astrological make-up, a strong
Virgo/Libra blend, I have a terrible time making up my mind, because I want the decision to be perfect. Never mind I was about to indulge in enough ice cream to clog my arteries for a week; I was splitting hairs, three boxes in hand, over which popcorn had the least salt, fat, and artificial ingredients. I took so long; a cop came by. For a second, I wondered if he thought I was the popcorn equivalent of the Frito Bandito, about to empty the shelves of exploding maize—or perhaps to detonate it.

“Do you have a car in the parking lot?’

I answered yes and described it--his next question.

He shot down the aisle, as I trailed a question of my own in his dust.

“Did someone leave their lights on?”

I picked up a sense of alarm in his muffled response I couldn’t quite hear. After all, I was nosing into police business, and he had no obligation to give me such details. The whole thing left me unsettled, because I could feel something was wrong and worth worrying.

This is the downside of being highly intuitive with antennae in every cell of my body. Gregg, my friend and fellow astrologer, says Virgos are so sensitive, we can feel our blood run through our veins. Our bad rep as hypochondriacs is simply a misunderstanding. To us a headache actually feels like a brain tumor.

My Dying Day?
While I’m digressing, I’ve got to say that this increased heartbeat and sensed danger from the cop’s presence was the most exciting thing that happened to me all day. I had actually wondered earlier if it was my time to die. I had spent hours rewriting my book proposal for Hot Flashbacks for the umpteenth time in three years, prepping to meet some publishers and agents at a writers’ conference next weekend. The conference and writing pros—cool. The book proposal? I would rather have a colonoscopy.

In fact, some of my writer friends refuse to write non-fiction because these painful proposals are part of the gig. A proposal forces you to figure out and clearly state what you’re trying to say and accomplish—and requires a plan for how you’ll market copies of your book, once it’s published. Hands down, most writers say it’s easier to write the book than the proposal. Most of them, including me, say it’s the most valuable thing they ever wrote—once it’s over. Like childbirth.

I had unloaded on my sweet and supportive husband about the difficulties of getting my first book published, and the blah-blah-blah of all my frustrations. Why would God give me such an intense sense of mission and vocation, if I’m not supposed to do this … and if that’s the Plan, why is it so hard?

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Maybe there is nothing left for me to do here. Maybe I’m supposed to die soon, because if I can’t do something useful, I may as well. Maybe I’m being prepared for the end.”

Not Checked Out at the Check-Out
As soon as I succumbed to the ice cream cure for depression, I was temporarily distracted, even though I hadn’t tasted a lick. I took my huge purchase of one box of popcorn to the checkout and paid cash.

The checker asked for my Safeway card, which gave me a discount. It ended up costing only two bucks. While I was basking in my good fortune—again, just feet from my magical ATM machine—the young checkout clerk, looked at the receipt to address me by name, as is the Safeway custom. She stared at it for several beats, then asked, “Is your name really Joyce Mason?”

Was she a blog reader or astrology student—someone who’d actually heard of me?

“Yes,” I said, wondering what was up, and deciding not to get into the fact that it has only been my name since I was three weeks old by adoption—that I had another secret, original name.

She looked to be in her late teens, and she must have said, “Really?” four times. “That was my grandmother’s name.” Then she added, “She died.”

“Well, I think I’m still alive. Do I look alive to you?” I asked the three other clerks at the bagging end of the counter, and I began to wonder why this Coincidence had such a big audience. They said nothing, which worried me.

“I am really weirded out by this,” the checker must have said another three times. “I never heard of anyone else named Joyce Mason before.”

I tried to reassure her that it is quite a common name. (
Google me, if you don’t believe me). I know of at least three others in the Sacramento area alone, but she didn’t need those details or my amusing stories about how I found out. She was so spooked; I actually caught her chills. Then I realized what I was supposed to do.

“It’s probably just your grandma, letting you know everything’s OK. Really. Everything’s OK.”

Our Lady of Synchronicity
I looked to my right and the three baggers were there like angels witnessing an apparition. I do not know why they stood out so much to me, wide-eyed and brightly illuminated. There were too many of them for my single item, single bag purchase. Their presence seemed surreal, like Lucia and her cousins at Fatima.

I was shaken as I walked to B&R, but not enough to derail my need for an ice cream fix. I saw the cop cars out front, and I still wondered what on earth had brought our local boys in blue to the scene. Maybe I was going to be arrested yet for scaring children, impersonating their dead grandmothers.

When I got home, that’s when I realized that I had somehow graduated from having coincidences to being one. Of course, God/dess can be a goofball, and since I was whining just minutes before that my life might be over, I got the opportunity to try on the idea by playing Joyce Mason, Somebody’s Dead Grandma.

But I knew it wasn’t this Joyce Mason’s day to die ... because I proved to myself that day; I could still do something useful. I was present, accounted for, and reactive to the mystery of life--a willing participant when called upon for Cosmic Improv.


Catherine Stifter, Workshop Leader said...

Cool story. I love coincidences. But, who was it that said being in the right place at the right time is just a combination of luck and skill.

It was such a pleasure to meet you at the 2008 Summer Writer's Conference workshop on Blogging.

I've added a link to your wonderful Blog on the conference Blog.

Joyce Mason said...

Catherine, thanks so much for visiting Hot Flashbacks and adding my blog to the Sac State Writers' Conference website. Likewise on wonderful to meet you! With any luck and skill, I'll find that quote somewhere on Google.