Random Acts of Synchronicity

image001Legend has it that in 1982 Anne Herbert scrawled the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat in a California restaurant and from there it randomly spread. About 10 years later Chuck Wall, a professor at Bakersfield College, recalls hearing about “random senseless acts of violence” and was inspired to assign his students the task of committing “one random act of senseless kindness” as homework. About 10 years later Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book Pay It Forward took a well-known concept (perhaps first introduced by Benjamin Franklin who in forgiving a loan suggested that the borrower discharge his debt by lending the amount to another) and a movement was born. Hyde’s book became a film by the same name in which there was a formula: If you are the recipient of a (random) kindness pay it forward x3.

 

I was intrigued by the words random and senseless lined up with actions of kindness, both which left me a bit bewildered. Senseless is defined as either unconscious or wasteful. Random is defined as chance, with no direction or having no definite purpose (random can also mean a person of no consequence). I am assuming that what Anne Herbert and Chuck Wall meant by their catchy phrase of “random acts” connects with “paying it forward’ in that there is no sense of obligation or reciprocity—no contract between the parties involved. If I am the giver or the receiver of an act of random-senseless kindness there is no ledger that has been created. The Rabbis in Ethics of the Fathers called this “the reward of the mitzvah is the mitzvah—and “one mitzvah leads to another.”

 

Kabbalah wisdom insists that randomness is senseless. Nothing is random. This is my personal experience but I know better than to adopt a rigid position that does not allow for the possibility of its opposite.

 

I want to suggest though a new phrase that makes more sense to me: Synchronistic Acts of Kindness.

 

The following story as reported in the L.A. Times from this week serves to illustrate:

 

The couple who saved a 3-year-old boy just as he tumbled out of a third-story window in Burbank, California described the harrowing split-second actions that cushioned his fall.

 

Konrad Lightner and his wife, Jennifer, were carrying their box spring mattress out Sunday when they saw a toddler throw his leg over the window sill, his toys tossed to the ground below. After the boy got out, he clung to a telephone wire outside the window, spurring a split-second decision by the Lightners to position their box spring mattress below.

 

“He started crying, and I knew he couldn’t make it back to the window, so I just started getting ready for him to let go,” Konrad Lightner said.

 

A few seconds later the boy let go of the wire and fell about 30 feet into the arms of Lightner, who used the mattress as a sort of landing pad. The toddler was taken to a hospital for evaluation, but did not suffer any major injuries — a lucky break given that the Lightners weren’t supposed to be in the alleyway when he fell. The only reason they happened to be there was because they had been delayed by a stuck elevator during the move, the couple said.

 

Jennifer Lightner’s closing reflection was that they were, “at the right place at the right time.” Perhaps you will find yourself as well at the right place and time to extend a hand or some money to a person in need. That will be your synchronicity. The smile or hand or money may be just as needed as a mattress to break a boy’s fall.

1 Comment

JANE · March 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm

A tip o’ the hat from me and Dr. C. Jung!

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Counting up: Tiferet

by Melanie Gruenwald Week3: Tiferet.   This week, we are immersed in the third week of the counting of the Omer, experiencing the harmony and balance of Tiferet.   We embody Tiferet as the holding

Hersh Goldberg-Polin's parents- day 202

(Two Hundred and) Second Day

by Dr. David Sanders Today is the 2nd day in the upward count of 50 days from Passover to Shavuot (the holiday of weeks). It is a yearly meditative ritual count with a primary focus

Melanie G TikTok Vlog

Melanie’s Blog: Podcasts, Books and TikTok

by Melanie GruenwaldThe spring weather in Denver has inspired me to ​walk to work as much as possible. It gives me time to get some steps in and listen to interesting podcasts.This week, I was inspired

Humble Warriors

Humble Warriors

by Dr. David Sanders To keep months aligned with the earth’s rotation around the sun, an extra day was added in the Gregorian calendar every four years to February, the month with the least number

connecting at woolworth storefront greensboro ga

Connecting at Woolworth’s

by Melanie Gruenwald   On Monday, I stepped into an Uber in North Carolina, with a lovely driver who was warm and welcoming. I am on my first business trip since 2015—with great anticipation and