Have your good deeds ever paid off in unexpected ways?
I was fishing through my pockets for the one thing I carry when out on my morning run: my house key. Dang! No key! It could have fallen anywhere during my 45-minute loop around Cedar Lake. A pang of anxiety started working its way through my belly. There was nothing to do but jog back to the trail and look for it.
As I started back, I began wondering about karma. For years now, whenever I am out walking or running, I stop and pick up bits of litter left lying on the sidewalks and trails. Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board makes it pretty easy, with strategically placed collection bins. Cans and water bottles go in blue recycling containers, cigarette butts and candy wrappers in the black garbage receptacles. To me, helping keep the parks and city clean is a way to give back—a small way to help make the world a better place.
Maybe the universe will honor my good deeds by returning my key? My rational mind kicked in and dismissed the idea as ridiculous. Just because I collect litter doesn't mean I will miraculously find my key. Yet another part of me—my more soulful or spiritual part—refused to be silenced. I remained hopeful.
As I began to retrace my steps, I suddenly remembered I had found a discarded cigarette butt near my last turn, even though the nearest garbage can was a bit out of the way. I dutifully headed over. Guess what? Lying on the top of the black garbage can was my key. Some Good Samaritan must have found it on the trail—who knows where—and placed it where I might find it. Chills ran up and down my spine.
As I headed home, I started to wonder if this was one of those synchronicities that psychologist Carl Jung wrote about some 100 years ago. He noted that certain seemingly unrelated events occur simultaneously. To Jung, these are no mere coincidences, but rather moments of profound connection between the physical world and the psychic world. In such moments we often feel time stands still. Jung felt these encounters were deeply meaningful because they showed us the soul of the world at work in our everyday lives.
If indeed there is meaningful connection between us and the world, perhaps these uncanny coincidences prove it. And if so, our job is to be open to seeing and appreciating them. I wonder if that is what people mean by "miracles." Whatever you call them, meaningful coincidences, such as finding my key on top of the garbage can where I had been depositing litter, do occur. If we pay attention and are open to them, we can see the world and our role in it in a new light—or at least revel in the pleasant nature of a simple, delightful surprise. I know I felt both a huge relief and sublime joy at the sight of that precious key on top of an otherwise ordinary garbage can.
TODAY'S CONVERSATION SPARKS
* What kind of out- of-the- blue coincidences have occurred in your life?
* How did they affect you?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tom Glaser is the author of Full Heart Living: Conversations with the Happiest People I Know. A psychologist and life coach, he lives in Minneapolis with his family and beloved mini-labradoodle. When he isn't teaching Full Heart Living workshops—which explore how to listen and provide dynamic conversation sparks—you'll find him working on a second book on Trauma and Resilience.