Meaningful moments from yesteryear connected with today
The Naples Pier on the Fourth of July, 2008 DENNIS GUYITT / COURTESY PHOTO
Synchronicity is a principle, according to psychiatrist Carl Jung, that explains experiences of two or more seemingly unrelated events as complex psychological creations, subject to both conscious and subconscious influences, that together create a meaningful moment.
Dr. Jung’s notion of synchronicity — this causal principle linking events by their coincidence in time — sends “rational souls” into a frenzy to explain why such a moment of, oh, let’s say, a hummingbird flying into a room, stopping by a photograph of your mother and then flying out again, holds no meaning, that it simply happened.
I guess this debate could be compared to the iconic beer commercial that professed, “Tastes great, less filling” — it depends upon the “drinker.” By that I mean you can drink in the experience as “nothing,” or you can drink in the experience as “something.” Either way, you as the “drinker” add your own meaning (or lack thereof) to the situation.
While I was searching for a photograph of Benjamin Parks recently, I had the pleasure of meeting his Jane, inside the only Virginia brick building on Fifth Avenue South. Our encounter led to a moment of synchronicity. Or did it?
Mr. Parks’ widow, who retired recently after 50 years as a real estate broker, relayed several stories as she guided me on an office tour. She told me she and her husband were the first couple to be married at Trinity by the Cove in Port Royal. She also share this colorful memory about Doris Reynolds’ first day on the job at the Chamber of Commerce:
Ms. Reynolds, a successful writer from St. Petersburg, came to Naples for the job of “secretary” at the chamber. She showed up for work dressed very professionally in the dress code of the day — suit, high heels and hose. She arrived, however, only to discover the door to the chamber was locked. A woman rarely stopped from her mission, she simply jimmied the latch on the left window, threw in her purse, hoisted herself up, legs flaying for that extra momentum, and fell through the window, ready to get down to the business of the day. (I imagine the first order of business would be to take off those hose.)
As Mrs. Parks relayed the story, her respect for Ms. Reynolds was readily apparent.
When we talked about Lavern Gaynor’s role in advancing local history, Mrs. Parks recalled a story that is relevant to a current issue regarding the Naples Pier.
“My late husband was the city attorney when Hurricane Donna struck in September 1960, she said. “He came home one day to tell me that Lester Norris (Ms. Gaynor’s father) had called him to say he wanted to pay to have the pier repaired as he did not want the cost to be added to the tax roll. Mr. Norris pressed to get a formal commitment from city council to never charge residents to go onto the pier.”
She went on to say that while her husband was not able to make that kind of commitment, he would bear witness and with a gentleman’s handshake, these two extraordinary community stewards sealed an arrangement allowing the beloved pier to serve as a gathering place for everyone in the community — and to stand as a testament that Naples could be rebuilt.
The week before I met Mrs. Parks, the city council voted down an agenda item to charge people a fee for access to the pier. The day Mrs. Parks relayed this story, Ms. Gaynor was to go in for surgery the following afternoon. Acting as a conduit, I rushed to tell her the story. She smiled and said, “Finally. Now I know.”
Normally, my encounter with Mrs. Parks would be just another moment in time. But as I felt the fatigue of season’s end and fretted about looming uncertainties due to the country’s economic reset and the dreadful gulf oil spill — and as I considered the “what ifs” as my dear friend faced surgery — I realized my time with Mrs. Parks was something more.
An event in 1964 between two respected men who knew (dare I say felt) the community’s sense of loss regarding a damaged landmark had provided a meaningful link to 2010. Mrs. Parks had connected a moment from the past to the present for two people, herself and Ms. Gaynor, who held the memory as something more.
So is this synchronicity or not?
Since the “drinker” of the experience has the choice to add his own meaning, (just as you are doing right now), I can only vouch what it meant to me. Not only that, I can’t get the image of Ms. Reynolds’ flaying legs out of my mind’s eye!