There are patterns in life, and one of them I’ve tagged the Cluster Factor. I’m sure some scholar has tagged it something else, but my observation is merely an observation, not a theological or academic study. That doesn’t make it more or less true or real, just based on different criteria.
The first evidence of the cluster factor I noted was in writing ideas and pertains to thinking patterns. I don’t typically think a book, I think a series of books. Often, ideas come to me in threes. When I first noted this, I noted it but didn’t really deem it significant. Cluster novel ideas was just the way my mind worked.
Then, during a conversation with a relative who informed me there’d been a death in the extended family mentioned “deaths always come in threes.” Sure enough, two more deaths followed within a matter of a few months–and looking back, I noted that this had also been the case when my brother had died years earlier.
Intrigued, I talked to a few friends about the cluster factor and discovered that more than novel ideas and deaths seem to come in clusters but joys and challenges in general.
And as I look to old sayings, which I often do, I discovered that there are many, like, “You’re on a roll” or one tagged as having the “Midas Touch” signal a series of good things happening in short order. We all know the spiritual significance of the trinity. And when things are not going well? “When it rains, it pours” immediately comes to mind, as does, “When you’re up, you’re up, and when you’re down, you’re down.”
Why is that?
Some would say it’s “like attracts like.” You expect more of the same, are focused on more of the same (thus create opportunities to achieve/acquire more of the same), so you do. Others say that there are cycles in life–seasons for each and everything under the sun. If you’re in a downward spiral, it’s that season. If you can’t seem to lose, that too is a season. (Either passes as all seasons due–and one never knows when the change will occur, so if you’re in an up cycle, keep your sense.)
Still others say that all is random–life is in coincidences.
All the different input set me to thinking on this, and while others certainly disagree, I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe in purpose. That everything has one and in them–whether the events are deemed good or bad by us–they all have one.
That purpose might be a wake-up call. It might be a warning. It might be a signal to snag our focus and get it geared in a different direction. Or it might be to remove our rose-colored glasses on an issue, a relationship, an idea and offer us an opportunity (even if it’s one that stings) to see something or someone as it is and not as we would wish it to be.
Insights and opportunities are in clusters, and perhaps the reason things happen in clusters is because we’re too busy or preoccupied to note what we need to note in individual circumstances. But when hit with a 1, 2, 3 punch or a series of fabulous events, we take note. And then we can adopt some method or means that’s produced favorable results or shun ones that haven’t.
For example, if we touch a warm stove we might note it’s warm and touch it again. If we do and it’s hot and we get burned, we suffer the consequences, and make the call not to touch a hot stove again.
Or if someone uses us or treats us badly, we might dismiss it or put it off to secondary reasons. But if we suffer a series of mistreatments by that person, we know to expect it and choose to either accept it or reject it by allowing or not allowing ourselves to be on the receiving end of future mistreatment.
We hear about streaks of good or bad luck. But luck implies there is no rhyme or reason for something and, at least in my experience, I’ve discovered that we make a lot of our luck.
If we ignore, have the imagination but ignore the required perspiration, then ideas or dreams or goals remain just that–unfulfilled. It’s applied inspiration, the kind you sweat to bring to pass, that turns dreams into realities.
Sure, we’ve all heard of the lucky break, or the golden opportunity that knocked or the case of the overnight success, but in the vastness of things, how much more often do we hear of overnight success actually being the culmination of ten years’ work?
On closer examination, it’s likely what we’re seeing that there was a buildup of events, situations, efforts, and the “overnight success” was that moment in time where everything aligned at the right place at the right time on the right thing and something wonderful happened. The last of the cluster. Not a single burst.
Thinking of this in terms of challenges versus triumphs, the same holds true. We stub a toe, skin a shin, and finally get knocked on our keisters or fall flat on our faces. Looking at a specific recent event in my life–a challenge–I see that’s the case. There was no spontaneous combustion but there were subtle signals that grew stronger until the warning held all the subtly of a foghorn. I’ve weighed the matter and now acted. And my guess is that the purpose in this season of signals is now done. That the mission is deemed accomplished and the door can now close on this cluster factor.
1. Identify cluster activity in your life.
2. Address it.
©2009, Vicki Hinze