In Sync

Last week I was bicycling home on the main road near my house. It's a very familiar piece of road as I'm on it at least once nearly every day.

I was climbing a slight rise and approaching an intersection with a traffic light. The light had just turned green, and I was on a steady pace to pass through it.

At that moment, I caught the sound of a large diesel engine coming up behind me. The road I was approaching has several industries along it, and lots of large truck traffic.

Most likely, the driver was to make the right turn. If I stayed on my pace, the truck would need to slow down, blocked by me from turning, while I crossed the intersection. If the driver were a bit more assertive, they would try to pass me and likely block me as they turned.

I slowed my pedaling rate a little to allow the truck to get enough ahead of me to make the turn.

As I slowed, I heard the engine perk up. It appeared the driver recognized my slight yield favored the pass. It overtook me and turned in a smooth operation that allowed me still to catch the green, and to proceed without any real interruption.

How did we do that? If we had practiced that maneuver for a week, we couldn't have synced the timing better.

We made no direct communication with one another.. I never looked back and saw the driver -- didn't see the truck until it was alongside. No hand signals, lights, nor horns were activated. All I had for information was the engine's rpms, and all the driver had was my pedalling rpms. We used our mutual understanding of the context of the intersection and of our experience with each other's vehicles.

What's more, and in spite of being anonymized to each other inside a truck cab and winter parka and helmet, we had a desire to cooperate. And it was a beautiful thing.

As badly as we do it sometimes, and as willfully we resist it at others, our minds are wired to try to understand each other. We squeeze in and out of subway cars, navigate our vehicles through the Route 2 rotary, dance in ensembles, sing in choirs, achieve consensus in meetings, end armed conflicts, make parades, make vaccines. A lot of our human cooperation is the result of occult cues we pick up from one another, which guide us into alignment.

Humans do this sort of mind meld all the time. Look for it in your life this week. The cues are occult, but not imperceptible. They're real, but still mystical and land with the feeling of magic.

There are strong suggestions these cues are more effective when we're face to face and hand to hand, but, as two of us demonstrated last week, we're more connected than we know.

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