Tuesday, July 5, 2011

7/4/11: Synchroshocked

First, read my unlikely enlightenment on the smell of patchouli oil, namely how I was compelled, for no obvious reason, to visit my parents' vacation property in Myrtle Beach, SC, and was synchroshocked as a result.

That was nothing compared to my last trip there.

It started ten days ago, when it came up, arbitrarily, that the two parties that had both wanted to use the vacation property for the Fourth had, for separate reasons, opted out. As I heard that, The Voice spoke up: Why don't you go down there? it said from just left and center in my head, and I answered with the obvious: Because I have no reason, Voice, and it will cost money and take time and I will lose work and more money. But The Voice was incorrigible, and as I was still duking it out, trying to reason my way into staying home, my father said, "Hey, Aaron, why don't you go down to the beach this weekend?"

I knew then I was going to Myrtle Beach for the Fourth of July, for reasons unknown. I buckled my mental safety-belt.

Now, my first three days there, I had neither fun nor the synchronicities I was privately hoping for. Since I, as mentioned, had nothing to do and no one to go with, I literally sat around doing nothing with no one, except for three things, all of which I felt utterly compelled to do, against my better sense:

1) My first day there, I went to a flea market filled with things I didn't want to buy, where I happened across a Stephen King novel I hadn't read, Thinner. The novel takes place in a Connecticut town named Fairview.

2) Also, that same day, I went out to a pawnshop I didn't want to go to and bought several CD's on the cheap.

3) I was, on my third day there, compelled to go visit another store I didn't want to go to, which ended with me coming back to the vacation property and hearing "Times Like These" by the Foo Fighters on the radio (and taking note of it for no particular reason).

Keep these three factoids in mind -- Exhibits A - C, if you will -- as they turned out to be the components of a bomb.

As I mentioned, my first three days in Myrtle Beach were very unthrilling, and in fact very unpleasant, because my thyroid acted up while I was there and I ended up not only having nothing to do, but feeling miserable while I didn't do them. So after three days there, of the planned five, I decided to return home, where I could at least be miserable while working and staying reasonably productive. On top of that, I was feeling stupid for having gone down at all, my inner skeptic getting a toehold and scolding me for following such a stupid whim. I accepted the scolding and then some, so much that I began questioning the trip.

My last thought before leaving the house was, I wish a synchronicity would happen to justify my coming down here. Within five minutes, my wish was fulfilled. By the end of the day, it was fulfilled three-fold.

Synchronicity #1:

It happened just after leaving the house, only minutes after I had yearned for the synchronicity that would justify my visit. I got in my truck and keyed the ignition, and just what happened to be on the radio but "Times Like These" by the Foo Fighters. This would've been insignificant had it not been playing when I turned the truck off, the night before. As I mentioned in Exhibit C up above, I had taken particular note of this song before I killed my truck and got out, it for some reason getting my attention in that specific way these things do. What are the chances I would have gotten home with the song playing, and happened to leave just when the same radio station was playing it again? (It bears mentioning that I had planned on leaving that morning, of Monday the Fourth, but a long series of events saw me leaving that afternoon, instead, just in time to hear the song ...)

Synchronicity #2:

This one came about five minutes after the first. As I left the little neighborhood the vacation property sits in, contemplating the long drive to North Carolina ahead of me, I went to put on my headphones and listen to my MP3 player (on the radio, Foo Fighters had given way to music I didn't care for). The day prior, I had preloaded the MP3 player with the CD's I'd bought at the pawnshop, and was interested in hearing them on the drive home. Unfortunately, I never got to listen to them.

But let me back up.

On the way down to Myrtle Beach, while listening to the same MP3 player, I had come across the album American Standard by Seven Mary Three, which I had been listening to in the days preceding the trip. Upon seeing it on the playlist on the trip down, I'd thought absently, I won't be listening to that album while at the beach; but then, immediately, The Voice had answered: Oh yes you will. I remember pausing upon thinking that and hearing The Voice's answer, thinking in return, Oh no I won't, there's no way I'll end up listening to that played-out album yet again. But the voice had repeated: Oh yes you will. It was enough to give me pause and cement the occurrence in my mind.

Well, as I was sitting along the road on the afternoon of the Fourth, I remembered that little feud with my Voice as I turned on my MP3 player and scrolled through the playlist, to the first of the new CD's I'd loaded onto it the night before. I had time to think, Oh no I won't be listening to American Standard again, and then selected the first of the new CD's and pressed play. Afterward, however, there was no music, and I watched the MP3 player cycle through each of the new songs and albums, working through the playlist until it found ... (drum roll) ... Seven Mary Three, after which it played.

I knew at once what had happened, yet it dulled the Shock none: the new songs' format was incompatible with the MP3 player. Being forced to use my laptop instead of my desktop to copy and encode the audio files, I'd been forced to use lossless WMA format instead of FLAC, which I use for all my other audio (the Seven Mary Three album, for instance). As I know now (but didn't know when encoding the files ...), the Sansa Clip MP3 player does not play lossless WMA files, hence it skipped through them all instead of playing them -- right down to the album that The Voice had prophesied I would listen to while at the beach.

Surprisingly, I found myself in the mood to hear it again, and let it play.

But that's not all, folks! [Billy Mays smile]

Synchronicity #3:

There are several ways to get from Myrtle Beach, SC, to western North Carolina, the fastest of which involving Highway 9 and 601, as I've learned from experience. There is another, roundabout way I've gone -- read: took a wrong turn and been forced to follow -- and while coming home on the Fourth, I made sure to avoid the wrong turn, and therefore go the fast way. Despite my best efforts, however, I indeed took that wrong turn -- again.

I could've swore it was the right way, really, gun-to-the-head, stack-of-Bibles swear, but I was wrong, because the next thing I knew, I was going the wrong way, and had been doing so for so long it was actually faster to just go that other, roundabout way rather than double back and get back on track.

So I stayed on, and by consequence happened across the small town of Fairview, SC.

The same as in the Stephen King novel that I'd bought from the flea market I was compelled to go to for no good reason, and ended up reading half of while at the beach.

If I'd gone the right way, which I really, really, really tried to do (really), I would've missed it.

It was a one-two-three punch. My inner skeptic won't be walking right for a week.

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