We learn our lessons at every moment. Sometimes hardship serves as tutor, and sometimes joy.

My upbringing traumatized me, but I enjoyed a number of special times. In fact, when your parents don’t care about you and encourage you to stay away from home, you are more free than kids who are watched and protected. At age twelve a friend of mine and I started sailing each summer from Marina del Rey in Los Angeles to Catalina Island some thirty miles offshore. We’d go for two weeks each time, and scuba dive every day. Not many parents would have trusted two youngsters to independently do something so potentially hazardous, but both Mark and I were free.

A couple of times my dad flew in for a few days of scuba diving. I remember fondly those times with him and probably should give him more credit for showing me that attention. One of the most beautiful experiences of my life happened while he and I were diving together.

The underwater landscape around Catalina consists of amber colored kelp forests, which grow from reefs of rough rock that through the otherwise sandy sea bottom. The kelp fronds extend from their reef anchors up to the surface thirty feet above, and they weave a thick, floating mat on the rolling ocean surface. We had just exited one of these kelp stands and were swimming through open water toward another ‘grove’, when we found ourselves surrounded by a school of grunion. The grunion is a silver fish about six inches long, nondescript but with a cosmopolitan tendency to swim together in massive numbers. Thousands of animals schooled around us.

What struck me then, and even more now, was the incredible coordination of their movements. Although the fish could no doubt see each other and feel their collective vibrations in the water, the synchrony of their migration seemed far more precise than could be explained on those bases. The scene was astonishing. All the animals would turn together in what seemed like an instant, as if an invisible message had been transmitted, making the crowd of fish behave as one organism. The school divided and swam smoothly around us, never approaching closer than three or four feet, and always as organized as a phalanx of soldiers under strict parade command. But there was nothing martial in this spectacle. The water felt suffused with a deep intelligence, which we could barely fathom in our clumsy, bubbling gear.

These days, as I read about consciousness and its implications, I remember that experience. It particularly resonates with what Rupert Sheldrake has written about morphic fields. These postulated energies give schools of fish their unity, and also direct embryonic development and account for so-called psychic phenomena. Sheldrake marshals impressive data to demonstrate that standard physical models can’t explain the massively coordinated actions of thousands of fish in a school or billions of cells in a growing fetus. He also recounts the enormous amount of evidence that proves the reality of psychic abilities in humans.

These days, as I work to establish my life on sound principles, I look to that school of fish for lessons. Every action of myself and others can be seen, metaphorically, as a single fish. If each action were independent and occurred without reference to any larger organizing principle, then anxiety would be in order. Keeping a tight grip on my behavior would help ensure that none of the hundreds of ‘fish’ that make up my life swam out of line. But if there is morphic resonance (a similar concept, discussed by Elvin Laszlo, is the Akashic Field) keeping life synchronized, then letting go makes the greater sense. I could trust in the intelligence of these encompassing influences.

Sound familiar? In Alcoholics Anonymous a favorite saying is, “let go and let God.” The time has come for scientists to recognize that while the Judeo-Christian-Muslim concept of a patriarchal God is inaccurate and in many ways a personification of ego, there really is something ‘out there’ that makes life a meaningful and directed experience. I have commented many times on this blog about the role synchronicity has played in my life, especially recently. The strange coincidences can be explained as manifestations of morphic or Akashic influences. This isn’t necessarily ‘God’ in the traditional sense, but it is surely sacred.