Kissing in the rain

It would have been all of five degrees Celsius. The wind was blustering off the Brindabellas with determined ferocity, and my thermal undergarments felt about as useful as a moth eaten mosquito net. Just when I thought I couldn't get any colder, the rain started to fall. Large droplets carried on the wind in an almost horizontal trajectory, landing on my face then trickling down inside my rain coat onto cold, almost-numb skin.

Duke 'Kissing' Casanova finished his warm supper and ambled over in search of some female affection. He's an all-weather smoocher, our Duke. Impervious to the elements and endlessly enthusiastic, particularly when there are girls around.

I fumbled about in the pocket of my rain coat for my phone and thrust it out into the rain with my left hand to snap this photo. It took a bit of doing. My hands were so cold, I had no feeling in my fingers and it took me ages to trigger the shutter.

I was entranced by the photo on first sight. The soft kiss in the falling rain had a charming romance about it. But it wasn't until I ran the image through my photo editor that I saw its real magic. The heart that's featured in the sky above me and Duke is entirely natural, a heart of light created, purely by coincidence, by a gap between the trees behind us. Technically, the light effect is called bokeh - out of focus highlights caused by a shallow depth of field.

Can you imagine my delight? How perfect, I cried! Kissing in the rain under a heart shaped cloud of light!

Carl Jung talked about coincidences like this as early as the 1920s. He coined the term 'synchronicity' to describe meaningful coincidences that, he argued, reflect a deeper order. Jung used one of his patients as an example of synchronicity in action. His client, a highly rational woman, whom Jung found psychologically inaccessible and remote, recalled a dream of a scarab beetle. As she recounted her dream in a session, Jung became aware of an insect knocking on the window pane outside his office. When he opened the window and allowed the insect to enter, a scarabaeid beetle flew in. He caught it and handed it to his client, saying 'here is your scarab'. It was a turning point, in his view, creating a large enough crack in her rationalism for exploration of life's deeper mysteries to begin.

There are alternative explanations for synchronistic phenomena, of course. Mathematicians will ramble endlessly about probability and outliers to an audience of glazed eyes, while cognitive psychologists will try to impress us silly with big words like confirmation bias and selective perception.

I don't actually care who's right. I just like the beauty of synchronicity, and the mysterious glimpse of hidden forces at work. When life sends me an unexpected heart, I accept it with gratitude - along with every tidbit of beauty and mystery on offer.

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