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Synchronicity: Coming to Wyoming, the final piece

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. To count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance. The concept of synchronicity was first described by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung in the 1920s. (Wikipedia)

“When coincidences pile up in this way, one cannot help being impressed by them—for the greater the number of terms in such a series, or the more unusual its character, the more improbable it becomes.” C.G. Jung

“I know I’m supposed to be here, just give me some time to figure out why.” The Secret Life of Bees


I continued my life working in California, putting the finishing touches on raising my teenage son.  I was used to this life, my friends, my home, my neighborhood.  I’d grown up and lived my entire life in California, and loved all of its varied environments, from the deserts of Southern California, to the Sierras, the coastal redwoods, the wild surf of the Northern California coast.  I’d grown up surfing and swimming in Southern California, and spent my entire adult life in parts of Northern California.

How I love the ocean that I grew up with

I’d planted thousands of trees and shrubs, grown many summers worth of vegetables, picked fruit, studied oaks, madrones and manzanitas, watched baby salamanders clamber out of quiet pools, rare Coho salmon fight their way up Redwood creek, guided school children through Muir woods and Muir beach, and helped with Spotted Owl studies.  All my life-long friends were in California.  I loved my family, my friends, and most of all I loved the land.

My garden in California. I love the land there

Yet strange coincidences started reaching out and tugging me more and more in the direction of Wyoming.

For instance, soon after the purchase, I had a job in California with a wife who was a doctor and the husband a geologist.  In this case I mostly dealt with the wife relative to the design elements.  One day husband Bill and I were talking about my cabin near Yellowstone.  I was telling him about how incredible the geological features were.

“Wait, I have something I want to give you.  Janet can’t stand that I collect these.  They clutter up the house, are big.  I have no where to keep them.”

He came back with a 24×36 bound book of geological maps.  The date was 1898, so this was an original series of maps put out by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“These are original maps of the Yellowstone area.  You’ll use them more than I will.”

Later, upon inspection, I saw that the quadrant of maps he had given me wasn’t Yellowstone at all, but Sunlight Basin and the Absarokas bordering Yellowstone and my valley.  Since my neighbor in Wyoming is the Park Geologist, I gave these prints to him.

Another client gave me a section of her father’s memoirs.  He was the chief engineer in Yellowstone in ’29-‘31.

My son was looking at colleges.  He applied to Pasadena art college, a small school in Southern California.  These small schools usually have an evening get-together for questions and PR.  This was done one evening at a alumni’s office in Oakland, an architect.  After listening to the presentation I was walking around for the coffee and dessert part, when my eye caught a scale model of a museum he designed.

“That looks like the Buffalo Bill museum in Cody”, I asked.  “The Plains Indian wing.”

“It is.  I designed it five years ago.”

One afternoon I was looking at possible storage units in Northern California where I still lived.  When I came out of the 2nd floor onto the balcony, I saw a Hertz moving van in the parking lot blocking my view.  The advertisement on the side said “Visit the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody”.  I have never seen one of these advertisements on a moving van since.

Then there were the persistent dreams.  In the winter in California, I’d have dreams of wolves and elk in the snow in Sunlight.  I dreamt quite accurately about the original owner whom I had known nothing about.  Dreams of native Americans, of new beginnings, of going to live in Wyoming; persistent, insistent dreams.

And then there were the healing forces.  After a series of deaths in my family and close friends over the course of two years, new sorrows seemed to echo old wounds.  I was spent, exhausted, and in pain emotionally.  I had been squeezing in two weeks here and there during the spring and summer, driving the 20 hours back and forth from California.  I decided to take some time off and spend September and most of October here.

Deep present loss can easily echo past losses.  I felt like I had a deep gash in my heart that had been there for a long time, even longer than these family deaths.  I came here and just ‘let the mountain work on me’.  I couldn’t do much but surrender to the Place.  Sometime in October, I had an amazing day.  I took a chair up to a high point on my property, a place with a view to the east of the entire Clark’s Fork plateau.  I sat.  After several hours, a new feeling arose, one that was recognizable yet unfamiliar at the same time.  I felt centered.  I felt my own center.  This Place itself was my center.  How could it be, but it was true, that I’d never felt this before?    I went back to California a different person.  I literally felt like someone had done heart surgery, sewing up a very old wound, healing a condition of sorrow and grief.  I was happy again.

Dawn in Yellowstone. A new day

There is something about Place, and I believe especially about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a very special Place on this Earth.  Maybe its that giant hotspot underneath us; maybe its because its one of the last places in our contiguous United States where wild is still wild, where large predators still rule the landscape and things are right; maybe its because it was the last and final stand of Native Americans and you can feel the pulse of their history as you walk around.  Whatever it is, its palpable.  The healing power of Yellowstone and my little valley is the Center of the Universe.

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