Do you believe in synchronicity? I certainly do. In case you’re not familiar with the term, psychologist Carl Jung coined it to mean that two or more events have occurred simultaneously, and they seem not to be connected at all, but yet they have a relationship or a connection that is unmistakable. The coincidence can’t just be random; somehow or other, the universe (or your own subconscious) has assured you that these instances have aligned. WOW, heavy-duty philosophy!
I definitely had a case of synchronicity right as I sat down to do this blog. It was the 90th birthday of my recently deceased uncle Charlie, and I was pondering what I should be writing about. Right at that moment, my daughter came in and asked if she could watch the kid sitcom “Good Luck Charlie” on YouTube (I try to monitor that particular social-media platform) and my son’s too-loud playlist was blasting “See You Again,” sung by Charlie Puth.
Now I don’t need a brick house to fall on me, and I don’t need the 1983 Police album, “Synchronicity,” to begin spinning on a turntable. The universe was telling me that this week’s PLUSH LIFE had to circle around my connection to Uncle Charlie and to teddy bears with that special name.
Luckily for me, my teddy-bear archive (yep, I actually have one!) is jam-packed with bears named Charlie (and the variation, Charly). So, I’ve compiled Charlie’s greatest ursine hits, a marvelous array of mohair and plush bears that are named the same as my favorite uncle.
The bear named Charlie by Nancy McNally, the artist who creates under the artistic umbrella called Cub Cakes, is especially fitting for this blog. My uncle was notorious for his sweet tooth, a habit that followed him way into his elderly years. When he celebrated his 88th birthday, shortly before his passing away, he was still looking forward to devouring his cake before his main meal. He definitely lived his life to the fullest, and that meant occasionally switching up the order of an a la carte meal. No reason not to have your sweets before devouring the more sour or bland portions of a dinner.
My uncle was a great lover of theater, and whenever he visited, we would go to Manhattan for a show. It was an exciting moment when he would land at the airport, and would phone us with his ETA. Then a taxi would pull up in front of our home and out he would step. His suitcases were packed with his personal paraphernalia and lots of surprise goodies for all of us. It was a happy homecoming.
When I was a young child and even into my teens, I was very taken with his ability to always find the right show to buy tickets for. When I was with my uncle, it was like he held the golden ticket to the best that Broadway (and off-Broadway) held. That is quite a talent! He could pick the winners before the Tony Awards acknowledged them.
I think this is why having teddy bears are so important. Very frequently they hold connections to special moments in our lives — synchronicity that we’re not even aware of when we first see them, buy them, and love them.
In my hug at home — okay, my daughter’s hug, not mine — we have a very sweet, cuddly little guy that is named Charlie: So Beary Sweet. She received it at her school’s FUN DAY grab bag. Just think about that: she could have pulled anything out of that giveaway pouch, and she ended up with a teddy bear. Plus, a teddy bear that just happened to be called Charlie. I think this Carl Jung observation is holding more and more true. The Precious Moments Charlie bear had been sitting among all of her other bears and critters, and she never paid the bear any particular affection. It was just one of many.
Then suddenly one day, it was as if an alarm clock buzzed in her head, or a skyrocket soared across her cerebral sky. She came downstairs with the bear in her arms and said, “I have a bear named after Uncle Charlie. I was going to call it ‘Sweetie Pie,’ but he already has a name. I think he will be my memory bear.”
And, yes, he has become just that. He has been given a place of honor and he reminds my daughter of the generosity that she received from her great-uncle during his lifetime. My uncle treated us to a once-in-a-lifetime family getaway to Disney World, where my son and daughter were entirely enraptured by the Magic Kingdom, a theme park that really lived up to its name.
The Duffy bear that my daughter bought was swiftly named Charlie Duffy to honor my uncle’s benevolence, and she carted it around like 6-year-olds do. Sadly, three years later, when she brought Charlie Duffy to a slumber party, he fell victim to a secretive Labrador who covertly seized that poor stuffed animal and dragged him into the corner of the house. The next morning, all that remained were some slobbered-upon limbs and stray pieces of stuffing. The dog had pulled that poor Teddy apart!
So, having a bear to remind my daughter of her uncle — and a bear that didn’t meet a miserable, masticating end — is indeed a godsend. She’s lucky to have it. I think all of us in the teddy bear world are fortunate to have cuddly and huggable companions that can absorb our tears of gratitude and sorrow, our tears of laughter, love, and living.
Teddy bears matter to us because they represent particular moments, places, and people who have held significance and connections to us. Receiving a teddy bear as a gift or buying one for yourself may seem like an independent, random action. What could the universe hold in store for you? But look at this bear, and think about what it has grown to mean to you, and seriously consider if it could have had any other outcome and connection to your emotions. Probably not.
The long and the short of it is, teddy bears are synchronous with our deepest desires and our most heartfelt wishes. They don’t randomly become our lifelong companions; they are destined to be that. Teddy bears most assuredly do hold magic. Just ask my daughter’s Charlie bear — it will silently agree. And, for me, seeing a bear and then spotting a smile is synchronicity at its best.