Images of Synchronicity in a Pandemic
Synchronicities, songs and popular sayings have played in my psyche the last week, as I pondered doing an article about meaning in these pandemic times. I write this on Sat. April 11, after steeping my heart-mind on the subject to the point of optimal “steepiness,” which means that I felt deadline pressure I couldn’t refuse.
As many of you know, I directed a feature film on synchronicity, and it is my most natural and meaningful language to use here. Hopefully it is one that can touch you as well in your own way. My main focus is on how the initiation process is playing out now on a global scale.
The most timely cultural synchronicity is that of the virus peaking near the Passover/Easter season. We might wonder about a new journey coming or how our lives might die and be reborn. Looking at the timing of death can also be meaningful when it happens to famous people. Singer/songwriter Bill Withers died on March 30, as the pandemic was rising in our awareness. He was well known for the songs “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The timing of his death raised the first of those songs as a theme for many people when the pandemic escalated, especially for those on the front lines. Last Saturday, as I began steeping on this subject, his song, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” suddenly played on my Pandora station, taking me deeper into the sadness, yes, but also into appreciation for his life and the people on the front lines fighting the virus.
Pandora next offered The Eagles song, “Hotel California,” giving me a fresh experience of the line, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” I sensed the initiation of being semi-confined to our homes, stripped from much of our usual lives and with no escape from an invisible threat. I thought about the irony of my work with juveniles in detention and how I suggest they find meaning during confinement through reflections on initiation and story. I smiled about how juvenile detainees are allotted very minimal TP per use. I found myself in such a depleted state on April Fool’s Day, until I was blessed to find a six-pack of Angel Soft at Hy-Vee that evening. I felt rich, scoring something basic we normally take for granted. What is it about all the TP hoarding anyway? Lois Wilkins, in her April 2 post here, touched on TP’s connection to our first chakra. I’ll unroll the symbolism a bit more around the pressing question on most minds, “How soon can we get back to normal?”
Some would say there will be or already is a new normal, but what is that? Perhaps the deeper question is whether we trust life in such uncertain times. There is a cultural phrase I’ve heard lately that I don’t think serves us very well about the uncertainty in initiation — that is when someone confidently says about the chaos: “I got this,” or, “We got this.” I don’t mean to bash the resilience in the phrase, but a main aspect of initiation is that you actually don’t have s**t — instead, something has you. Maybe the best you can do is adjust your attitude toward it, let go, shall we say, and discover something real or meaningful. You don’t know how long the chaos will last or what it will ask of you. You may go from weeping (see the story of “The Girl With No Hands”) to celebrating new gifts as you stumble in the darkness of dreams, instinct, intuition, and synchronicity.
This reminds me of a character I created to carry the contents of my movie, “What Is Synchronicity?” He called himself, “The Uncertainty Hero.” What would such a hero be like today? He or she might sense just the right moment to score some toilet paper; or the right way to hold space for someone suffering because of the virus; or maybe just the right way to survive or face a death, big or small.
While I think we are all in this together, as many have said, we are challenged in how to live that out. Yet the seeds of deeper connection are present, if we consider how C.G. Jung modeled the importance of doing our inner work. One of my favorite Jung quotes is, “No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” Thank you for reading this. May these images steep something timely, inspirational and loving. Feel free to share your comments.
David Strabala, LCSW, works full-time for the Clay County Juvenile Office, and he teaches ways to find meaning through stories and synchronicity. He is planning more educational webinars in the future because of social distancing. One is scheduled and soon to be announced through NASW-MO for May 27, from 8:30-11:30 am, called, “Using Stories to Vaccinate Fear and Suicidal Spells in a Pandemic.” He holds certificates from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Applied Mythology and Enchantivism. You may also find his feature documentary, “What Is Synchronicity?” through a Vimeo download, or DVD on his site, www.whatissynchronicity.com.