Chain Removal Starts Here
My younger brother, Peter, and I have always been close. Although in some ways we are very different and have followed different life paths, we are a lot alike. A lot. In fact, my joke is that we are twins, born three and a half years apart. So when he moved out to Seattle a number of years ago, I made it a point to go visit him there.
We have always been able to talk, sharing our fairly similar experiences of growing up in our family, of growing into adulthood, of recovery in various arenas and from various addictions—of all the vagaries and mysteries of life. So as we ate meals and saw the sites and traveled to various places, it was natural for us to discuss matters of the heart. And the soul.
We were having just such a discussion one day as we drove into the Cascade Mountains to one of his favorite hiking trails, taking a route that was new to him, but very scenic. I was talking about how sometimes it seemed, even though I had grown a lot, that something was holding me back. It was almost as if I was wearing chains attached to...what? Things that had happened when I was younger—which I didn't necessarily even remember? I told him I felt I could go a certain distance in my healing—the length of the chain—but when I reached the end of it, I couldn't go on. In fact, sometimes it even felt that, unaware of the chains and moving somewhat quickly, I would be jerked back when I reached some previously unknown limit. Wham!
"Yeah!" he said. "I know just what you mean. Hidden chains. I wish I could figure out what they are. And get rid of them."
"Me too," I lamented. "It's really frustrating."
As I said that I looked up. And saw, as we sped by, one of those rectangular white traffic signs that said, "Chain Removal Area." I kid you not.
Peter saw it too. We looked at each other in disbelief.
"Wow!" he said, grinning and shaking his head. "So bizarre!"
"Incredible timing," I said, laughing.
We exclaimed and laughed some more, and eventually went on talking as we drove.
"Wasn't that something?" I said.
"But lots of times it seems you don't even know what the chains are," I said.
"I know," said Peter. "How do you know how to do it? Where do you begin?"
And the Universe answered again. In the form of another white rectangular sign that loomed up at that exact moment on the side of the road. This one said, "Chain Removal Starts Here," and then maybe 100 feet beyond, another one that read, "Public Chain Removal Area." Just in case we had any doubt.
Wow. Big wow. Double, quadruple wow. I don't know how long it took us to stop laughing.
Even though it was August we realized immediately, of course, that the signs were aimed at motorists driving in snow. (If you live or have lived in mountainous areas in the West, you realized this too, before I said it.) We were up about 9,000 or 10,000 feet where deep snow is a way of life. And those without chains on their tires could get into deep trouble, very quickly. Peter had seen some signs previously that reminded drivers that along certain stretches of the highway, chains were mandatory. But he had never noticed the ones about chain removal. And certainly the timing was impeccable, and therefore hilarious. The message got through.
Chain removal may not be easy. It may take time. It may, in fact, take years. But chain removal starts here. It can always start here. With the assistance of some guided awareness—okay, and occasional signs and wonders. Plus a little laughter.
This story is an example of what Carl Jung called synchronicity, which he sometimes described as "meaningful coincidence." That is, the simultaneous or near simultaneous occurrence of events that have no apparent causal connection but offer revelation, emphasis or a deep flash of meaning.
You can try to explain this kind of thing away with your rational mind. Or you can receive it as Gift. You can be alert, in a relaxed sort of way, to new synchronicities. To the improbably possible. To the gloriously ridiculous improbable interconnections in this life. A gift from God, a gift of the Universe, a sign that there is more to life than the apparent insanity we see unfolding in our beleaguered world. A sign of hope. If you choose to see it.
Perhaps you've had an experience like this—or maybe many of them. If so, I'd love to hear about them. Just sign in to the blog and leave a comment.
For another great story of multiple synchronicities, check out pp.87-93 of Uh-oh: Some Observations from Both Sides of the Refrigerator Door by Robert Fulghum (author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten).
Next time I'll write about how I found out I was going to get married—another story of synchronicity.
We didn't get any photos of those signs on that trip into the Cascades. I found this one on the Internet, taken in Nevada, I think.
Aida L. on unSplash