Synchronicity or just a coincidence?

Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves
4 min readAug 3, 2021


The word Synchronicity comes from the German word: Synchronizität. It is a concept that was first introduced by psychologist Carl G. Jung.

Jung used this concept “to describe circumstances that appear meaningfully related yet lack a causal connection”. He believed that ascribing meaning to coincidences was a healthy function as it would make us think, or bring the subconscious mind to attention and make us pay more attention to the small details.

Just how much meaning should we ascribe to coincidences?

I bumped into a friend a while back that I haven’t seen for about 20 years.

There is nothing really remarkable about that, only the fact that, if it were not for a series of events — it would not have happened. (well not on that day anyway)

I needed to make an appointment for the dental hygienist after spring lockdown, so I headed to the surgery and spoke to the receptionist. She gave me two options: an afternoon appointment on Thursday or an earlier one at 12 noon — I decided on the 12 noon appointment.

After the appointment I went to pay but unfortunately the clinic doesn’t accept card payments — hard to believe that they won’t accept card payments in 2021, but it kind of gives me hope that the shift to a cashless society might not be as close as we think. My only alternative was to make my way to the nearest ATM.The receptionist assured me it wouldn’t be a problem to go and get the cash and come back.

I live in a small town and people here are quite trusting.

When I got to the ATM there was a lady using it, she turned around a little confused and asked if I could help her, in her best Portuguese. Then she called me by my name in a somewhat surprised tone.

“Mandy!?“ — only people from a long time ago refer to me as Mandy. Most people these days know me as Amanda.

I had no idea who she was, to be honest. With the masks we are all wearing these days it can’t even recognise myself when I pass by a window. So I asked her.

Glenda! Ah! Glenda from 20 years ago!

The one I taught Portuguese to a million years ago! That Glenda?

I helped her with her transaction, and then we stood there and talked about everything that had happened over the last 20 years.

I am a fast talker.

It took about half an hour.

The 1pm siren went off and I had to go and pay the dentist before they closed. We swapped numbers and arranged to meet up.

It got to thinking about it. If I hadn’t made my appointment for that day — we may never have run into one another. If the Dentist accepted card payments, I wouldn’t have gone to the ATM.

Glenda would have gone to the ATM and not seen anybody to help her for a good half hour; nobody came to the ATM all the time we were there.

So the big question is — did this happen for a reason?

Possibly not.

It was just a coincidence. One incident coincided with another. If the result of this casual meeting ended up changing our lives in a radical way, then maybe we could say that it had a special meaning.

“Good things take time, great things happen all at once”

Leaving the house and doing things can actually generate more ‘coincidences’, strangely enough. Some we won’t even notice. We might not notice the person that passes us on the street every day, until they directly affect us in some way. Then we will think about how we passed on the street everyday and never noticed one another — what a coincidence.

Kind of like how we notice pregnant women when we are pregnant. Or how everybody seems to have a red car after we purchase one. They were always there — we just never noticed them before.

Do these occurrences have a deeper meaning?

We are the ones that often attribute meaning to things, even where there is no meaning. Maybe it makes life more interesting and makes us feel more connected.

Pareidolia is the tendency to see things that are not there — for example seeing a face in the damp patch on the roof. Or the famous face on Mars.


Incidentally, since the probes went up they found it doesn’t look like that at all up close.

Sometimes this concept can even extend to hidden messages in a song played in reverse or at different speeds, and hearing voices in music or other objects like fridges or motorbike engines. Maybe that could be borderline psychosis though…

A friend of mine swore he could hear his name ‘Colin’ being shouted out in the Brian Eno song, Help me Somebody; Right after the person says, “help me somebody”.
He kept leaving his bedroom to see if his brother was calling him. If you listen to the song you can hear it. The Gnarls Barkley song Crazy played backwards is another interesting example. At the beginning it sounds like he is saying crazy, if you listen to it long enough you will hear other things.

Pareidolia was at one time considered a symptom of psychosis, but it is now seen as a normal human tendency, our tendency to see meaning in the world around us.

Have you ever seen a cloud and said to a friend “ Hey that cloud looks like a horse” and your friend just nods and says “Sure it does”.

Have you ever experienced something that was too much of a coincidence to be a mere coincidence?

Let me know about it.




Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves

I have been living in the Algarve in Portugal since 1989! I have been teaching Portuguese to foreigners for nearly 20 years!