I love synchronicity, those choices we make which put in motion a series of events that just “seem” to happen and end up changing our lives.
I’ve had my share of them and so have you.
I don’t believe we are at the whim of fate. It is about the choices we make. But there is something magical about it when you break it down and look at all of the pieces that had to fit together in order to create that “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Here’s one story of magical synchronicity I happened up on today. I love this.
It’s from Michael Bungay Stanier of A Box of Crayons .
17 years ago today, my wife and I went on our first date together.
As it so happens, I’m writing this on a train on the way to Oxford, the city in which we met – which makes this day of celebration just a little bit sweeter.
On the one hand, our story is just another one of two people meeting and falling quickly in love.
On the other – I still marvel at the many moments where things went a certain way – and which created the path to our meeting.
My Dad lived in Oxford and went to Oxford University.
I think my Dad is a brilliant and lovely man, and decided early on that I should go to Oxford University too
I told a teacher, Mr Lennox, about that plan when I was 14.
He mentioned that the only way I’d get to Oxford was by winning a Rhodes Scholarship.
I decided to win a Rhodes Scholarship.
In my third year at the Australian National University, I applied to win a Rhodes Scholarship.
I failed utterly, failing even to be asked to the initial interview which, apparently, “everyone gets invited to.”
I spent 2 years licking my wounds.
In my fifth year I reapplied.
In the final interview, the opening question was “You’ve done a degree in English and a degree in Law. Now you’re applying to do a degree in Economics. Can’t you make up your mind?” I answers, “Well…. Yes. And No.” Everyone laughed.
While not smart enough to have deliberately made that joke, I was at least smart enough to realized it was in fact funny, laughed too, relaxed, and had a great interview – and won the Scholarship.
I knew one other person going to Oxford – my mate Dani, also a Rhodes Scholar. He ended up at Merton College.
I hung around Merton College, and got invited to a Halloween Party. I dressed up as a pirate, went to the party, and found one other person dressed as a pirate.
We started talking.
We went out to a dinner together at my college, Hertford College.
Hertford College’s most famous alum is John Donne, the metaphysical poet, and his portrait has pride of place in Hertford’s dining room.
Marcella was writing her PhD thesis on John Donne.
6 weeks later, we were living together.
Marcella meantime had an equally moments-of-destiny journey.
After being a photographer, carpenter, filing clerk, pharmacists assistant and puppeteer, she ended up working in a library. Her lack of formal qualifications meant she could go no further – so at the age of 30 she figured out how to go to university, the plan being to get a Dip.Ed and become a teacher.
She did a BA in English, and loved it.
She did a Masters degree, and remained equally passionate.
Her mentor and professor, suggested she do a PhD – and that if she was going to do it, “go big” and apply for the major universities. She applied to Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford, and heard back from just one of them – Oxford.
And so, at the age of 36, she reinvented her life, sold up everything she owned, and came to Oxford – and specifically Merton College.
And she came dressed as a pirate to a Halloween party.
I love the thought that we are masters of our own destiny, and I do think we shape our lives by the choices we make. And it’s impossible to deny that there are moments of destiny time and time again when you take the road less (or more) travelled – and it makes all the difference.
I love you Marcella