Here are three examples of what I like to call ‘synchronicity’. I wanted to record them here because these are my memories of events that fascinated me at the time, and still do, and I believe that they are worth sharing. I hope you think so too.
Synchronicity 1: The sailor and the boat.
I once had a gaff-rigged cutter named Boonewa. It had a wooden hull with boards above the water-line that would separate frighteningly in the summer heat, varnished upper parts that blistered in the sun, sails that flapped horribly and an in-board Simplex engine with a mind of its own. Do you detect here a suggestion that I was not born to be a sailor? Correct. Then why this masochistic involvement with such a boat? Well that’s really another story. Suffice to say for the time being that I was, despite legitimate ownership, not actually the master of this vessel. No let’s face it. It simultaneously fascinated and terrified me!
So this was my relationship with Boonewa when Jane’s nephew Barry visited us from Melbourne accompanied by his fiancée Sue. Now Barry was an experienced sailor of small boats, having been trained by his father from an early age and was the elder of five brothers, all of whom learned how to sail. So as the oldest of the five he was the most experienced and the most confident of them all. When he heard that I had a boat moored down at the Port he persuaded me to take him and his fiancée out. We would make a family day of it and sail down the Port River to Quarantine Beach and have a picnic. He insisted that he would crew and all I would have to do was steer. And that, after some careful consideration, seemed to me to be a workable plan. And it was. It was fine. Barry crewed. I steered. And everyone else lazed around and enjoyed the sun, the water and the cool salty breeze.
But you will understand, I hope, that when it happened I was not competent to do anything other than steer. Keep steering. Nothing else. I was transfixed with the shock and utter impossibility of the situation that in a split second interrupted the dream image of sailing swiftly down a wide gleaming river in my very own sailing boat, under a clear blue sky, with my wife and young children alongside me.
Did I tell you we were towing a dinghy? Yes that was so that we could drop Boonewa’s anchor a little way off the beach and take the dinghy ashore for our picnic.
So in the middle of this idealistic ‘fantasy come true’ a most amazing example of synchronicity occurred.
The breeze had picked up a bit. And then Sue’s cap suddenly flew off into the river!
I saw it and said a swift goodbye to it and steered on.
But Barry, the young gallant, in an incredible flash of movement, actually dived overboard. I steered on.
In one stroke Barry reached the cap and grabbed it.
He turned and took one more stroke back towards where Boonewa had been.
I steered on. What in heaven’s name was going to happen to that young hero? But then synchronicity stepped in.
As he took that second stroke, the gunwale of Boonewa’s dinghy appeared directly in front of him. He grabbed it. I steered on.
Barry heaved himself into the dinghy, pulled on its hawser so that he could reach Boonewa and jumped back on board. It was all over in 30 seconds!
While I steered on.
Synchronicity 2: The magpie and the eagle.
I call it big sky country. The Murray Mallee. We sometimes visit friends that own a small block of it just outside Cambrai. They don’t do much with it. Too much like hard work. They really only go there to relax. Just potter around to see which plants have survived the drought and which haven’t. And wonder at the new rabbit burrows and the scratchings around every tree. It’s a fragile place. And yet it was farmed not that many years ago. Wheat. All the trees except one were knocked down. And then it was ploughed to within an inch of its life, fertilised, planted, reaped; ploughed, fertilised, planted, reaped; etc etc etc for some fifty years or more; until the price of wheat and the dis-economy of small-scale farms proved finally too much for the farmer to bear.
Now the bush is coming back. But very slowly. The original tree has died of old age or drought. But the new owners, our friends, planted many more, most of which died in the ten-year drought at the turn of the millennium. But best of all some natural regeneration has occurred. And it’s this that keeps some hope alive for its survival.
So when we visit we generally lie around most of the time, drinking in the vastness of the sky and the distant views of massive red gums lining the river on the far side of the road.
One time we were gazing skywards when someone said “Hey look, a wedgie!” And sure enough, way up high, there was a wedge-tailed eagle floating towards the block. As we watched it approaching we then caught sight of a magpie flying fast and furiously away from the eagle. But then we noticed that although it was flying away, it was also flying up, and up, even higher than the eagle. We kept watching and wondering.
The magpie disappeared into the glare of the Sun and we lost track of it. While the eagle came on over us and seemed to almost pause.
But then we saw the magpie again. It was streaking down out of the Sun towards the eagle’s unsuspecting back. It reminded me of the Stuka dive bombers of World War II; the dog-fights over the English Channel; the Battle of Britain; the air-raid sirens.
And then it happened. All in maybe a single second. The magpie was about to collide with the eagle at very high speed and despite the size difference that beak would surely do some serious damage. But the eagle knew about synchronicity. He executed a perfect barrel roll, and halfway through the roll its exposed talons were in a position directly in the path of the magpie. The magpie managed to avoid the talons in the nick of time and the eagle completed the roll without a flicker of a pause. A masterful feat of aerobatics.
The eagle continued on its leisurely path as if nothing had happened while the magpie swerved and dived away to regain its composure.
Synchronicity 3: The dog and the heel.
We were visiting my wife’s sister in Bateman’s Bay and one day, feeling the need for a bit of fresh air and change of scenery, asked our hostess if there were any nice walks in the vicinity. She described a walk to a nearby Nature Reserve that she thought would suit us but warned that the route would take us past some houses that were notorious for their dogs. They had a nasty habit of darting out and attacking passers-by from the rear without warning.
Sure enough we had reached the houses that had been described to us and noticed a dog lurking nearby. It looked fairly harmless. The houses stared out at us as we walked by. There were no footpaths as the gardens stretched out to the kerb and were comprised mainly of lawns and an occasional flower bed; so to walk on the grass would have been tantamount to trespassing. So we continued walking down the middle of the road at a leisurely pace, arm in arm, gazing straight ahead.
We had only gone a few steps further when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the dog had disappeared. Suspicious soul that I am, I surmised that it was lining itself up for a direct attack on our rear. Continuing apparently oblivious to this possible threat there came a moment in time that I cannot explain. Some unknown instinct must have surfaced from my sub-conscious and I became aware that the dog, though unseen, was almost on us.
And then the magic of synchronicity happened. As the dog closed for the bite onto my unsuspecting ankle, I raised my heel sharply behind me and connected exquisitely with the dog’s under jaw. There was a yelp followed by a howl as the dog ran for the safety of its master’s house.
We walked on regardless without having even paused in our stride.
Did I glimpse the net curtains in the front window twitch ever so slightly?