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  • David Sutcliffe


In 1998, while I was living in New York City and just starting to have some success as an actor, I booked a Heineken commercial that shot in Spain. When I walked out of my apartment on the Upper West Side to catch a cab to the airport, I saw a construction worker across the street wearing a grey "Denver Hockey" sweatshirt. This was significant to me because my father played college hockey at Denver. And it was especially significant because I’d recently been thinking a lot about my relationship with my father — or more accurately, the lack of relationship. 

My parents separated when I was six. Shortly after my Dad moved away, remarried, and started a new family. Over the next twenty years, I saw and spoke to him only occasionally. But now, at twenty-eight, I felt a desire to know him and get closer. But the thought of reaching out and having a genuine conversation terrified me. (I was years away from understanding the grief I experienced as a boy in his absence.) 

So when I randomly saw a man in a Denver Hockey sweatshirt it stunned me. I spontaneously yelled out to him, excited: “My Dad played hockey at Denver!” I was looking for some connection, but he just looked back at me, confused. 

Sixteen hours later I was sitting in a hotel bar in Seville, Spain having a drink with the other actor playing in the commercial. He was an American man, early fifties, originally from Philadelphia, now living in Rome. We got to talking and he mentioned he went to school at... Denver University

It was one of the most surreal moments of my life.

“My parents met at Denver. When were you there?”  

"Late sixties."

“That's when they were there. My Dad played on the hockey team.” 

"I went to all the hockey games. What’s his name?”

"Bob Sutcliffe.” 

“Oh yeah, I knew your Dad."

We’ve all had these experiences. Meaningful coincidences that seem to defy probability and give us a sense there's more than just the material world; that there are unknown, unseen forces at play in our lives.

But is it real? Or is it just our brain's tendency to look for patterns and make connections that aren’t really there?

The materialists will tell you it’s chance. These coincidences, though unlikely, are within the realm of mathematic probability and so there’s nothing at all unusual about them. 

Others ascribe it to cognitive biases, which are essentially short-cuts in our thinking that cause us to lose objectivity, misinterpret reality, and draw false conclusions. For instance, you’re thinking about buying a yellow truck and suddenly you start seeing yellow trucks everywhere. That’s not synchronicity. Your brain is simply filtering through the countless bits of information our senses encounter each day and bringing to our awareness only what we've told it is important or significant. In this case, a yellow truck. It’s called the Baader–Meinhof effect or frequency bias.

Now that can explain picking out a Denver Hockey sweatshirt on a busy New York sidewalk — I’m thinking about my Dad and so I’m more likely to notice something related to him. But that doesn’t explain meeting a man sixteen hours later, thirty-five hundred miles away, who went to the same school as my father and watched him play hockey! It's hard for me to conceive that's random chance. 

But if it’s not chance, what is it? Is there some universal intelligence orchestrating these events on our behalf? Maybe, but there’s no evidence for it and so no way to prove it. Or are we somehow co-creating these moments through our thoughts and intentions? Possibly, but to believe that, you’d have to believe our thoughts have the power to impact the material world. 

There is evidence for that theory. The most obvious example is the placebo effect. Sick patients who are given fake treatment or pills will improve simply because they believe the treatment will work. This is a well-established phenomenon, though it cannot be explained by current scientific theory.

There are also several studies showing the effectiveness of remote healing: "Advanced AIDS patients who, unbeknownst to them, received remote healing from healers across the USA, acquired significantly fewer new AIDS-defining illnesses, had lower illness severity and required significantly fewer doctor visits, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer days of hospitalization. Treated subjects also showed significantly improved mood compared with controls."

Human thought has also been shown to affect electronic machines! In one experiment, lifelong mediators, trained in mental focus, sat in front of Random Event Generators, a device that essentially mimics a coin toss, randomly producing one of two numbers roughly fifty percent of the time. In more than 2.5 million trials they proved conclusively that human intention can influence the device to consistently produce one number over the other, defying the laws of probability.  

What’s going on? We don’t exactly know. But a German physicist named Fritz-Amber Popp discovered that all living things — plants, animals, humans — emit a constant current of tiny particles of light. He called them “biophoton emissions" and believed he had discovered the primary communication channel of living organisms; that we use light as a means of signaling to ourselves and the outside world. 

Further studies by Gary Swartz showed that humans are both senders and receivers of these quantum signals, and that focused and directed human thought could produce an ordered and coherent stream of these photons, visible and measurable by scientific equipment. 

“If you want to find the magic in the universe think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.” - Nikola Tesla

We know at the most elemental level, everything in the universe is energy. Is it possible that within this great quantum field we are communicating with each other in ways that are beyond our current understanding or comprehension; and that somehow, for some unknown reason, we are able to manifest these moments of synchronicity?

It’s a mystery. But what I do know is that every time it happens I feel a rush of excitement and wonder and awe; and a powerful sense that there is order and meaning to our lives, that events are not happening randomly, and we are somehow being led to deeper and deeper truths about the nature of the universe and our place in it. 

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness". - Eckhart Tolle

When I got home from Spain I called my Dad. I told him about the success I was having and he told me he was proud of me. I cried, not realizing until that moment that was all I ever wanted to hear from him.

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