I'd been seeing them, as I sometimes See Things. The butterflies had been cropping up in my life, archetypal-like, whether in the flesh or just their symmetrical four-pointed image. But, everywhere I looked, butterflies.
So, when I happened across the newspaper article headlined "Butterflies and children," it drew my attention.
Except, I don't read the newspaper. Never appealed to me, papers (or news, for that matter). But that day was different, because this particular paper cried out to me -- commanded I take it and look through. It was at the doctor's office, as it were, a two-day-old edition of the local rag -- which would explain why the paper was in the trash bin, next to the water cooler I'd patronized, in the waiting room. So, not only did the paper cry out so imperiously, but it was free, and unblemished; and, indeed, I was waiting, without occupation. There weren't even any other patients there to witness my dive into the trash to pull the paper free.
Thus, I had no excuse but to rescue the newspaper from its fate, drink my water-cooler water, and then return to my seat to wait for the doctor, now with reading material. A win-win decision, for the paper and my attentions both.
But still, I didn't see the butterfly article. No, because it was buried some pages back, in 4A territory, not warranting even a sliver of front-page coverage. I only discovered it by beginning a headlining story about some local flap, then being prompted to turn to page 3A, after which I overshot and hit its sibling -- thereby exposing me to the "Butterflies" headline. So it was pure "chance" that I happened across the miraculous little article in question. (Read some of my prior synchronicity posts, or the book I wrote about the phenomenon, and you'll understand my use of quotation marks.)
"Oh, hey, another butterfly," I remarked internally, upon sighting the article, not without a little jolt of Jung's classic "numinosity." At once, I forgot page 3A and the rest of the front-page article, instead reading about the "Butterflies and children."
Initially, the article centered on the story of the many children touched by World War II, the Nazi regime, and the Holocaust. I got through about half the article, enough to see how its title referred to a poem written by one such affected child -- "The Butterfly," it was called, naturally. At this point, the minor synchronicity's numinosity had faded, giving way to a simple interest in the plight of these children and the butterfly poem.
And that's when my name was called. The doctor was ready to see me.
I set down the paper, but didn't put it back in the trash; there was still half a butterfly-article to read. The doctor said I could leave it in the waiting room; but that didn't Feel Right to me. In fact, I was Compelled to keep this newspaper with my person, in that distinct, patternistic way I've detailed throughout this strange blog. And so I did, taking the paper with me into the doctor's little examination alcove.
"Where can I put these?" I asked, holding out my coat and my newly cherished paper.
The doctor pointed to a nearby chair of accommodating size.
Obediently, I went to put my things in the chair -- but froze before I could do so, for there, on the chair's fabric seat, was printed a large, unmistakable monarch butterfly.
"Oh, hey, another butterfly," I again remarked internally, now with even more supernormality. The newspaper affair had become a certified Incident, upgraded from a mere "coincidence." (Again, those mocking quotations.)
But that was only for starters. I hadn't read the rest of the article.
My time with the doctor did not make me forget the article. Quite the contrary: by the time we'd finished, my obsessive attraction to the newspaper had not lessened. So, after the ritual of paying up at the front desk, I remained in the parking lot, resuming the article where I'd been interrupted. From there, that's when I knew that this one was not only an Incident, but a Blog Post (the highest rung of my personal synchronicity hierarchy).
I'll let the article speak for itself, regarding a schoolteacher who took interest in the Holocaust children (estimated at 1.6 million):
Eleanor Schiller, a social studies teacher at the school, had a dream one night in which she started a project to honor the children of the Holocaust. The children would be represented by butterflies.
She told the school administrators, fellow teachers and students that [the school] was going to somehow collect 1.6 million butterflies to honor the children. Of course, some thought the idea far-fetched and some new [sic] Ellie's determination when she wanted to do something meant that the school would be flooded with butterflies.
Then one morning, we all knew it was to be.
Ellie came out of her classroom, almost ghost-white. She had just read in a magazine that the Holocaust Museum had decided to honor the 1.6 million children in a special way. They were going to use butterflies to represent the children.
She had never heard of this plan before her dream.The article goes on to detail how, in a Disney-like twist of fate, the 1.6 million "butterflies" were supplied by way of drawings and the like donated by school children and others in a large-scale community drive. Cute, and a proud example of inventiveness and power-in-numbers; but I stayed fixated on the schoolteacher's synchronistic dream.
The newspaper article I'd synchronistically excavated from a trash bin was, in fact, about a synchronicity.
At once, I wrote a mental note: "butterfly newspaper synchro -- BLOG POST," with the last two words underlined and italicized and in fat bold type.
* * *
And still, there's more to this one, parenthetically, with each detail lending substance and unlikeliness (and Jung's "meaning") to the newspaper incident.
First, there is the fact that I was in that doctor's office in the first place -- because it was the wrong office.
The mix-up was complicated, and the fault of neither myself nor the two doctor's offices (the correct one, and the one I'd actually gone to at the appointed time). But, regardless, I had made an appointment at one branch of the joint office, then been given directions to another, different branch. The rest is irrelevant, for the point is that, through a series of unlikely and awkward events, I ended up at this other office, which had no record of my appointment -- but did have an insistently vocal newspaper in its waiting-room trash bin. And, of course, a chair with the appropriately themed butterfly print on the seat (a chair placed tactically to receive what I had to put on it, to boot).
(As it so happened, I got to see a doctor there, anyway; she was between appointments, and her next was known to be chronically and dependably late, as I overheard from the two nurses at the front desk. Just another "stroke of luck," I guess.)
The second detail was, anecdotally, an article adjacent to "Butterflies and children," entitled "When a man finds his destiny." Going on the headline, I had the thought that this article would, by God, be about another synchronicity, as to really upgrade this incident, in double-whammy fashion; but not quite. However, the "destiny" article did contain the following paragraphs:
[...] yet [destiny] threw itself into his path, tackled him, and when he stopped wrestling against the mighty force, he saw he was staring right smack into the eye of what God had destined for him all along. Then he gave up the fight against it, embraced it, and found true contentment and happiness. He had arrived.For that is what destiny truly is -- the soul's satisfaction of knowing that you are where you are meant to be. That from the moment that life was breathed into your nostrils and the pulse of blood began, there was a purpose and plan. There was a destination that awaited.
In the end, that part was, for me, the most numinous of all, bypassing even the butterfly bits, for that day, I certainly felt like my destiny was to synchronistically read a newspaper article about a synchronicity, by way of the "purpose and plan" of a bungled doctor's appointment, seeing me to the "wrong" office and its water cooler and its butterfly-imprinted chair. Then, "God" may have taken the form of an insistent newspaper in a trash bin, but it all fits in a poetic way, the same as how a dog possesses Buddha nature.
(And would you believe that there were even more synchronicities interwoven in this meta-incident, no less notable but just too subtle and subjective to convey? Yeah, definitely a BLOG POST.)