Thursday, August 7, 2014
"He can't kill both of us, can he?"
Listening for the first kledon of the day is one of my favorite synchronicity games. The word "kledon" is Greek. It refers to the first sounds you hear coming from silence, maybe a snatch of conversation, or the cry of a bird, or the sigh of wind in the trees.
Monitoring kledons was a favorite form of divination in the ancient world. At Pharai in the Peloponnese there was a marketplace oracle that delivered messages through sounds received in this way. If you were seeking guidance, you approached the statue of Hermes, the divine messenger, in the center of the walled market. You whispered your request for counsel in the rough-hewn ear of the god. Then you clapped your hands over your ears, shutting out the noise of the market, until you reached the outer gate. There you took your hands away from your ears, ready to receive the first sounds that came to you as the response of the divine messenger, "the friendliest of gods to men".
In everyday life, the stir and bustle of a gritty city street may deliver a kledon as effectively as preceding silence, when a message becomes audible through undifferentiated white noise.
I received a kledon this morning that is very much on my mind. It was not simply something overheard in the street. It was addressed to me, and inspired by my little dog Oskar.
Oskar is a miniature Schnauzer who weighs all of 22 pounds. He has hosts of admirers. It is not unusual for him to draw three cries like "What a cutie!" in a single block. Today, he drew a different kind of remark.
Walking Oskar towards the park around breakfast time, I had a question on my mind. I was debating with myself whether I can really manage to take on two big new projects this fall. They will both demand considerable time, energy and focus, and it is possible that they could prove to be mutually competing.
I was not resolved to put my question to the world in the sense of asking for direct guidance. But I had the theme on my mind when a stranger got out of his car a few houses up the street from my home, He hoisted a huge carton of stuff out of his vehicle, raising it to shoulder height. As he approached me, he pointed his chin at my dog and said, "He can't kill us both at the same time, can he?"
Could this odd, unsolicited little joke be a comment on my theme - the matter of whether I can handle both of those projects? If so, what is the guidance? "Can't kill both" could mean that I can't "execute" - in the sense of accomplish, bring to fruition - both projects. The remark could also mean that two are stronger than one. Then again, as a friend pointed out, the message may be that the dog (and his master) can't focus on more than one target at a time.
Oracles are known to be ambiguous. That's how they stay in business long-term.
But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that my friend's suggestion was wise. The dog has to focus on one person at a time. I need to focus on one project at this time. And I know which one that is.
So: a couple of hours after the doggy encounter, I talk on the phone to the manager of the second project. He's disappointed when I tell him that I don't think I can go ahead with our plan this fall. Then I tell him the dog story. As soon as I quote the stranger who said, "He can't kill both of us at the same time," the manager roars with laughter and shouts, "I get it!" We are able to agree to defer our fall project for later discussion and a possible date next year.
The doggy kledon not only gave me the guidance I needed to make a decision. It gave me an entertaining and effective way to communicate that decision, making what could have been a difficult conversation into a very cordial one.
Note: For a full account of the market oracle at Pharai, please see my book Conscious Dreaming.
photo (c) Robert Moss