Snapshots of a… Crazy Kinda Life

The Misadventures of Messie Jessie

Synchronicity vs Serendipity (and a little PBR) September 20, 2008

Filed under: Simple Pleasures — Messie Jessie @ 6:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Sitting in the dark corners of a center city pub, drinking the PBR special of the night, I become ensconced in a conversation about synchronicity versus serendipity. My company felt that I should retract my claim that the following statement was synchronistic, and rather state that it was serendipitous:

On another occasion I was going about my business when I meet a stanger who knows someone that I had just given up trying to get ahold of the day before, and they said they would tell the person to contact me

I questioned their reasoning, to which they responded, “Well, serendipity generally entails a positive result. Don’t you think the outcome of that circumstance was positive?” I nodded my head in agreement, and gave a roughish smile. The person aforementioned, was also my company on this evening. Without the synchronic/serendipitous event, we may not have been sitting together at that exact moment. I noted that while the point made was valid, I was still unsure of the exact nomenclature I wanted to classify said event under- and if nothing else, I preferred the timbre of “synchronicitous” to that of “serendipitous”. 

The evening moved on, and so did we from the conversation and locale. However, this day I found myself continuing to ponder what terminology I felt the event was best categorized. I have now spent more time than I care to admit Googling the crap out of the words “synchronicity” and “serendipity”. I now feel I am fairly educated on both terms, and am ready to pronounce and defend my stance, which remains the same as it did last evening. 

Synchronicity: term coined by Carl Jung, who may or may not have been also associating it with intuition. However, intuition is not relevant in this case. Jung stated that synchronicity was “acausal connecting principal”, and found in “meaningful coincidences”. Further research and my own thoughts bring me to the conclusion that everything in this world gives off a vibration: actions, thoughts, intentions. In this specific case, each event had it’s own distinct vibration. When these vibrations ran parallel or concurrent with each other, it demonstrated itself as a synchronistic event. More specifically, I was getting my hair cut, which had nothing to do with my company last eve, however, the cosmetologist’s boyfriend came in to change clothes from one work setting to another, and I noticed that he worked at the same place as the gentleman I had given up pursuing the day previous. One course of action had nothing to do with the other, yet they intersected in such a way that it presented itself as a coincidence that I found meaningful to my recent decision to relinquish pursuit. 

Serendipity: Term coined by Horace Walpole, derived from the old persian name for Sri Lanka: Serendip. Serendipity can be most simply described as “the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely” (thank you Wikipedia). To elaborate on the vibrations, when you put energy (and equally, intention) into something -anything- you will have an outcome, although said outcome may not be as you anticipated or expected. Furthermore, for an event to be serendipitous, the outcome would be unrelated to the original vibration (intention). Generally, serendipitous outcomes are thought of as positive. In order for serendipity to occur one must make a commitment to an intention (in which commitment here relates to another conversation my company and I had, and I have strategically chosen to add that point in there. I know they know what I am talking about).  

A good and relative example of serendipity, would be the day I bought my new computer. I had the intention of, and made a commitment to, going to  buy a new one. My energy (vibration) was focused on making a large purchase and not getting ripped off. I randomly approached a salesman and asked for assistance, and eventually ended spending time with him on another occasion, under different pretenses altogether. While the outcome of the event was in alignment with my original intention, there was a conjoined progeny- to which I feel is highly serendipitous. 

To recap, synchronicity is about analysis of separate events; serendipity is about intention, commitment and outcomes of events. Serendipity builds on, but is not dependent upon, synchronicity. 

Moreover, to make my point full circle: I stand behind my claim that running into someone at the hair salon who knew someone I wanted to get in contact with was synchronistic. But inadvertently igniting the chain of events by buying a computer was quite serendipitous, indeed. 

Also to note: While Pabst Blue Ribbon has nothing to do with neither synchronicity nor serendipity, I ought to remember that whenever I imbibe that specific beverage I have a headache the next morning. It is not my intention, but it is the outcome- and generally not positive in nature. This is something I ought to be more cognizant of in the future.

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2 Responses to “Synchronicity vs Serendipity (and a little PBR)”

  1. James Says:

    I contend that there was a misalignment of intent and result. You intended simply to get your hair cut. The result certainly, included that outcome (hairs being cut), but the misalignment comes from the unforeseeable and fortuitous second outcome.

    After reading your definitions, I think, actually, that the occurrence was probably both.

  2. It depends on the condition-

    Condition A: Regardless of if the spiky-hair dude had told you I asked about you or not, you would have called me.

    Condition B: Only because the spiky-hair dude told you I asked about you, you returned my call.

    You clearly stated that Condition A was the true scenario, and therefore the basis of my argument.

    If you were being untruthful, and in fact, Condition B was the actual scenario, your point is nullified. You cannot argue my reasoning if you provided false pretenses.


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