I’m not big on meditating for hours, chanting at the feet of a guru or flogging myself mercilessly, although I have tried all of these things (albeit mental floggings only!). I do believe that one can practice spiritual awareness with or without religion and spiritual tradition. Here is one of my favorite practices. I call it the License Plate Game.
I make a habit of noticing vanity plates when I am out driving. At first I just enjoyed deciphering the cryptic messages. But soon I began to notice synchronicities. A few years ago while driving south on I 5 with a friend, we became engrossed in a conversation about the Gen X generation. We spoke about famous people and popular cultural icons representing the group. Eventually our conversation drifted to people we know and how they typified their generation. I mentioned a friend of mine who drives a black Jetta, the car I had decided most typified Gen Xers. Just then a car pulled up very fast behind me. I moved to the right lane and as it passed we noticed in amazement that the vanity plate read “Jen X!” These license plate connections happen all the time.
Just several days ago I experienced a transformative personal event that brought up a lot of fear. Shortly after releasing the fear completely, the problem totally dissolved. The next day I as I pulled out of a parking spot in my neighborhood I noticed a car drive by with a plate that read “Freadm.” I don’t know what the owner of the plate meant to convey, but I connected Freadom (Freedom) to its opposite, Feardom. I made a major shift in that moment and a realization followed my recent experience: I saw that the path to freedom is always to let go of fear. As if to punctuate my realization, I saw the car again later that morning.
My little vanity plate epiphanies are rarely amazing or profound. But they do occur regularly. I have broadened my awareness to synchronicities involving billboards, signs, songs on the radio, and just about anything that contains a message. A few more examples follow.
While reading the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I took a break one day to walk to the coffee place around the corner. As I left the place with my steaming cup, a man opened the door and we met face to face and said a few words. Something in the book had affected me profoundly and I felt an incredible outpouring of love for this stranger. At that very moment I heard a loud noise and looked up. A truck was going by with the words “Ekhart Moving Company” painted in large letters on the side.
I delight in the magic of synchronicities every single day. I love the way I seem to look at the clock each afternoon at 2:22. I love the way the number 22 follows me around, as when on a recent trip to Chicago I was assigned row number 22 on the airplane, the taxi exited the freeway at 22nd Avenue on the way to the hotel, I was on the second floor and the room service number that I used everyday was #22. Even my skeptical friend Chris had to admit how funny it was that I happened to be in his old car the day the odometer read 222,222!
I know that some of you are wondering what this has to do with spirituality. I can feel the eye roll I’m getting from certain folks. One or two of you are saying, “So what. This is just coincidence, nothing more.” Others might counter that there are mathematical and statistical laws that account for these random occurrences.
To these objections I say, you are totally missing the point! The whole point is to wake up. What better way than to notice things, lighten up, relax, smile, have fun, wonder, open up to new explanations, free the mind? In my life it has made no difference whether I watch my thoughts, watch my breath, or watch license plates. All that matters is that I am watching. There is watching. Who is watching?
PS. Six hours after I posted this I got an email saying that a periodical would like to publish one of my pieces. While celebrating–this is my first published piece of writing–I noticed that the time stamp on the email is 2:22!