09/27/2013 09:22 am ET Updated Nov 27, 2013

A Widow and a Widower Walk Into a Bar

When is a coincidence not a coincidence? If you believe in synchronicity, two or more events can be meaningfully related. Some believe meaningful coincidences happen in isolation. Others believe, like I do, that all events have meaning, and that the occasional dramatic example tends to become obvious to us only in the most startling coincidences. In other words, the obvious ones are just the tip of the iceberg.

For me, a startling coincidence might be walking into a crowded bar and meeting a woman around my age (35) that lost her husband to a devastating disease not long after I lost my wife; who has children around the same age as my daughter, and that shares many of my beliefs, including synchronicity. If I wrote about this encounter as fiction, a reader might be pressed to suspend their disbelief. Unlikely to be sure, but fact is stranger than fiction.

I usually shy away from talking to women at bars. Best case scenario, we get to know each other well enough for me to tell her how I recently quit my happy life to write a book for my daughter. Inevitably, the question arises, "Where's the mother?" I disclose that she died. Responses are mixed, but my unexpected revelation startles them and silences all levity in our conversation. So when I recently met a stunning woman at a local bar, you can imagine how startled I was when she replied, "I lost my husband, too."

The world around us went mute. I experienced a moment of synchronicity. The longer we spoke, the more meaningful the coincidence became. She said death is really a birth into a new existence. I told her how I planned the ceremony for my wife as a celebration of her rebirth, not a funeral. I told her that I'm moving to South America for six months. She's embarking on her own six-month journey. We shared a knowing smile. We are traveling with matching emotional baggage.

Were we just two ships passing in the night? I found that cliché deeply unsatisfying. So I sent her a text the following day wanting to continue our conversation. We met again that night and spent the next two days raptured in dialogue. We couldn't dismiss our encounter as mere cause and effect. For us, meaning was evident.

We are living the next six months more than 8,000 miles apart. If you believe that coincidences are just coincidences, you'd reason that our odds aren't favorable. If you believe in synchronicity, you could choose from at least two interpretations. First, our encounter was a single moment in time meant to teach us that we are not alone. But a second, more provocative interpretation might be that our first encounter was just the tip of our iceberg.

For more by Ryon Harms, click here.

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