Hope and a Tiny Elephant

Synchronicity is the idea that there are meaningful patterns of coincidences that occur in life. Some people see coincidence as a purely psychological phenomenon with no deeper meaning. When your attention has been drawn to something, you start noticing it more often. Say you were interested in buying a yellow car. You might not ordinarily notice yellow cars, but once you were in the market for one, you’d begin seeing them everywhere.

You could say the same for signs and symbols—we encounter random stimuli and generate meaning from that. Except, sometimes what we encounter does not seem so random. Sometimes it seems like a message meant just for us from a higher power in the universe. When I’ve encountered synchronicities, there’s often a sense of déjà vu, like I’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone. Here are some examples to illustrate what I mean.

I recently wrote a young adult novel called Sunset Empire. There are a few themes in the book, among them elephants, Thailand, and a creature from Scandinavian folklore called the huldra. I don’t yet know what will happen with this book—when it will be published—but encountering related synchronicities has been magical.

Last October, I was headed to my local library for a meeting with my writing group. Later in the month I would be presenting at the library on some of the mythical creatures featured in Sunset Empire. As I pulled up to the curb to park, a car passed me. The vehicle had a vanity plate that read huldra. While I live in an area with a significant Scandinavian influence, the word is still fairly obscure to most people, so it was surprising to see the license plate. What’s more, the odds of me arriving at that spot and looking up at that exact moment to see the passing car were slim. Had I pulled up to the curb a moment earlier or a moment later, I would have missed seeing it entirely. The experience felt like a nudge from the universe, one that made me smile.

One of the gifts I received for Christmas was a beautiful bracelet with a dragonfly motif from Thailand. Elyse Pthan, the main character in my book, is Thai-American, a tribute to my sister-in-law and her family. I’m fairly certain the giver of the bracelet was unaware of my connection to Thailand, which makes the bracelet even more special to me. Dragonflies are symbolic of change, and I hope 2016 will be a big year for forward movement with this book and my writing career. We shall see.

Elephant 1Then there are the elephants. Elyse wears a necklace with a small gold elephant. It’s amazing how many elephants are out there once you start looking. I see them everywhere now—on clothing, on a throw pillow in a magazine, and even on the beach. The tides on the Oregon coast have been higher than usual over the past month because of winter storms, and this has washed up all manner of debris. While beach combing with my family this December, we found bits of plastic with Japanese writing and a wooden board from vessel with a home port in the Bahamas. We also found a toy elephant with its trunk raised high, a symbol of good fortune. It’s a tiny plastic toy, less than two inches long. What are the odds we would find this on a beach that stretches for miles? What are the chances this little grey elephant, which would easily blend in among mounds of driftwood and kelp, would catch our eye? Perhaps this find was a coincidence. Maybe it means nothing. Or maybe it’s another one of those nudges from the universe, a sign I shouldn’t give up, that I should keep searching for a publishing home for this story. I hope so. I want to believe something good is headed my way.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015


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