Sting has a new book on the shelf and while we were waiting for our table at the Stir Fry Cafe in Johnson City (half-price Sushi on Wednesday nights), I picked up the copy of “Lyrics” because I really enjoyed his last book and autobiography, “Broken Music.” The new book is a collection of all of the songs Sting has written and published in a layout more fitting for great poetry. As I turned the vellum cover, I rediscovered one of my favorites songs – Synchronicity II and I thought somebody was watching.

In the footnotes about the song, Sting describes his vacation in Jamaica when he was reading a book by Albert Koestler that he discovered Carl Jung‘s notion of “memorable coincidence” or “Synchronicity.”

Although the lyrics do not portend any discovery about the concept derived by this Swedish psychologist,. Jung is one of my favorite thinkers and his books are the real gems in my collection as I only lack three more titles for his complete works. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help notice a familiar phenomenon as the evening kept mocking me from several angles and these “memorable coincidences” make up the rest of this story.

PrometheusWe were celebrating Brooke’s birthday tonight. She just turned 18 and along the way to Johnson City, our conversation reeled to Prometheus. It was my fault too, because it’s easy for me to get carried away blabbing about Greek heros. The metaphor of Prometheus tricking the Greek God Zeus and stealing fire from the heavens to bring back to mankind has always been intriguing as this particular story has made it way into the work of many authors through centuries.

Maybe I was talking about eternal punishment or something because the images of his wreathing body chained to a rock wall with an eagle eating his liver every day is a startling. That’s why it was strange that only 20 minutes later, I randomly opened an art history book at Barnes and Noble to see Gustav Moreau‘s painting of the melancholy hero.

Augmenting this specific coincidence was a riddle Danny and I had been trying to solve about a gesture of Jesus we noticed on the recent PBS Special – “Face – Jesus in Art” Normally, this show would not have much significance for me, but I have this sublime appreciation for art history – especially when Giotto‘s name appeared on screen.

The early renaissance painters took advantage of plenty of imperial wealth as they accepted their payments to create epic works of Christian Art. That money was evidently destined to earn the buyer everlasting life and to that hope, we have wonderful interpretations in brilliant colors, dazzling gold leaf and deep blue lapis on everything from canvas, stone walls and cathedrals.

One of the things we noticed in the early paintings of Jesus was the posture and the hand signs that appeared in a variety of the savior’s portrait. Danny is a 32nd-degree Free Mason and hand signs and symbolism are important to him. We’re always challenging each other with symbols like the ones depicted by the Christ images which looked like a peace sign of the sixties, but we just weren’t certain.

That’s why it was strange when I walked around the shelf at the bookstore this night, opened another art history book and turned immediately to a page with Christ with his hand sign and a nice little inset describing the position of his hand as a sign of absolution or blessing. Our further discovery was that Christ also had a hand pointing down, but it was strange to both of us that the coincidences kept happening tonight – at least until our table was ready and the sushi was great.

The most memorable coincidence of this year happened last fall at the DMV. My drivers license ran out on my birthday and I was dreading the trip to renew. Perhaps that explains the procrastination because I drove around for weeks on an expired license before I ever made the trip to Blountville and sure enough – lots of people were waiting patiently for their number.

I presented the officer on duty my notification and he – gave me a number and told me to have a seat. After about 45 minutes, I saw the officer point some other folks to a computer terminal and I was curious why he didn’t do the same for me? Maybe my renewal was different, so I continued to wait growing anxious by the second.

I saw a couple of painters walk by the window and one of the older guys who was wrinkled and reddish-brown from a life in the sun had on a paint-speckled white t-shirt and a red, white and blue “do-rag.”

Steve ThompsonA “do-rag” is like a bandanna used as a hat to keep the sun off your head. My good friend Steve Thompson often wore a do-rag because he was bald. I hadn’t seen Steve in more than year because he left Kingsport and moved to Nicaragua to work as an electrician for the one of the local contractors.

I miss my buddy Steve and was I thinking about that “do rag” for several minutes when I looked toward the same window and there was Steve walking by in a jersey with the words “Nicaragua” stitched on the front. Without noticing me, he went to the counter and told the officer he wanted to renew his license. The officer directed him to the computer too and when he turned around, he noticed me immediately – smiled, but I told him to finish up and we would talk later.

When Steve went to get his photo, I asked the officer if I could use the computers too and after an hour, he said, “Sure.” Why did I sit there for an hour waiting for a number? Steve.

Steve explained that his driver’s license was to expire in November and he was headed out across the ocean to Qatar, Saudi Arabia. He was in town for a few days tending to personal issues and we were both muddled because of our chance encounter. I shot a picture of him that day with my Iphone and although we didn’t have much time to talk, it was great to see him for a few moments.

Jung has written many papers on the phenomenon of Synchronicity and it continues to puzzle me as these episodes continue to play out and sometimes they deserve recording because they probably happen more often than we realize.

I won’t go so far as to say what it means or where it comes from, but I do know “Synchronicity” makes life more interesting and who knows? Maybe the Gods are playing with us indeed, but whatever you do, don’t take the fire.