synchronicity


My morning commute is seven miles from front door to workplace garage. Being Los Angeles, that seven miles is fraught with many traffic headaches. Most mornings it takes about forty minutes—but there have been many notable exceptions.

Today was one of those. My commute took one hour and fifteen minutes. For much of that time I was stuck on the Lincoln Boulevard hill down from the Westchester plateau. There really are only three ways down from the plateau and I was on the wrong one. Construction on the Ballona Creek Bridge near Marina del Rey had reduced four-lane Lincoln to one-lane Lincoln. Even at the top of the hill I couldn’t tell where the problem lay as I was behind a large truck and in the lane next to me was a bus, both effectively blocking my view. I was stuck in the second lane because I knew the first lane was blocked ahead from previous commutes, and I couldn’t get over to the right because everyone in those lanes was just as blocked as I.

So I called work and told them I would be seriously late and tried as hard as I could to go with it and remain calm. Mostly it worked. I thought thoughts, I listened to music, I tried to stay positive, I amused myself by thinking of a guy on the elevator last night who escaped with his life because I didn’t possess an ice pick.

And so I sat for close to an hour. About a half hour in, I noticed a dragonfly, about five inches long. It flew back and forth over the hood of my car six times, not more than a couple of feet from my windshield. Knowing that dragonflies are very symbolic critters, I wondered if it had some message for me?

“This too shall pass.”
“Hello from Mom and Dad.”
“Pay attention, mortal.”
“Concern yourself with what’s important.”
“Which way to the wetlands?”

And in fact when he flew over my car the last time he headed purposefully west, towards the wetlands.

According to http://bit.ly/1RnTHQA

“The dragonfly totem carries the wisdom of transformation and adaptability in life. As spirit animal, the dragonfly is connected to the symbolism of change and light. When the dragonfly shows up in your life, it may remind you to bring a bit more lightness and joy into your life. Those who have this animal as totem may be inclined to delve deep into their emotions and shine their true colors.”

Okay. I wouldn’t necessarily count on that. And don’t even get me started on that whole “spirit animal” thang. I mean, I do acknowledge that I’m in sore need of transformation. But the ways of the world are strong.

It is, however, interesting that this should come up now. I was just having this conversation with myself last night. It was a little less poetic, though. More along the lines of “You better get your s**t together, girl, and stop acting like a baby. Things need to change.”

Maybe the dragonfly was a reminder of that, a reinforcer of my own soul’s message to Self. Maybe a coincidence, but it’s no fun thinking like that, unless you call it a synchronicity.

So, a synchronous message of soul to Self, or Self to self, or…

It was a very beautiful dragonfly, all blue and gold. I loved watching it fly.

In April 2008, around the anniversary of the death of my Aunt Maxine, I started seeing 11:11 every day when I looked up at the clock. Not every time I looked at the clock because 11:11 only comes twice a day for those of us on a 12-hour clock, but often I’d feel compelled to look at the clock at this precise time. It went on for over two weeks and became rather unsettling.

What was the Universe trying to tell me? Something significant, or just that random chance sometimes gets stuck, throwing “heads” 85 times in a row?

Then I remembered my Aunt Maxine’s birthday was November 11 and wondered if it was her saying, “Hey, I’m still around. Don’t worry so much.” This was a comforting thought and the creepiness factor went away, although the 11:11’s didn’t. I kept seeing them for weeks after.

So I did what any semi-rational human being would do in such circumstances. I googled it.

Golly. There are a universe of beliefs around the coincidence of seeing 11:11. Yeah, I still (mostly) call it a coincidence, even though my personal anecdote seems to convey meaning, because post hoc theorizing and confirmation bias and because of all the fuzzy and convoluted theorizing I read online.

For instance, there’s this guy:

Um. I did scurry to my tarot to see what card was 11. It’s Justice. I thought, “If it’s the Hanged Man I’m going to mess myself.” Because for me that relates to 9/11 and I just didn’t know if I could stand that. The Hanged Man was 12.

Mr. Fuller is right about it being more important for me to find my own answers, but I looked online for more data points.

Uri Geller has a lot to say on 11:11 but I can’t tell you all of it. I fell asleep about halfway through his article. In all fairness to Mr. Geller, this strange phenomenon happened to me on more than one article on 11:11, which doesn’t always coincide with clear and concise theorizing.

Of course, no consideration of 11:11 would be complete without this:

However, some of the folklore surrounding 11:11 is charming, like the idea that if you look up to see it your wish will come true. Or when you see it repeatedly it means that you are beginning to “awaken” spiritually, and 11:11 is the indicator that you’re on the right path. Some believe it’s a sign that your angels are listening and you should ask for their guidance.

Other beliefs are darker, like the theory that 11:11 is a portend of great earth changes or history on the brink of something momentous…Actually, I don’t want to think on that one too hard, given recent seismic events in politics. I much prefer the belief that when you see 11:11, you should stop and consider the significance and importance of the moment in which you live. Of the moment, in the moment.

But Maxie, if that was you, I love ya, babe.

crow

I love crows. I’m fascinated by them, although I never lose track of the fact that although they are intelligent and amazing animals, they are wild, and they are predators as well as scavengers. They survive in the real world any way they can—picking up road kill and pet food left outside, catching smaller birds and critters to eat. Whatever it takes.

In mythology, crows are often trickster deities. As the name implies, these deities exist to play tricks on humankind, but the tricks have a deeper meaning. They put people on alert to the shifting nature of reality, reminding them not to get so caught up in the surface of things, to not always believe what your eyes tell you. Beware. Be smart. Do what needs to be done. That’s how you survive.

It’s a tricky business when a human strikes a deal with a trickster. You may get what you asked for, but it won’t necessarily be in a form that’s any good to you, or it may come at a time when you no longer want it or need it. Knowing this, I saw a crow outside my window one day at work and thought how lovely one of his shiny black feathers would be in an art piece I was working on. So I thought, what the hell? I’ll ask him. (In my mind, of course, so my officemate wouldn’t think I was crazier than she already thought.)

“Mr. Crow, I would like one of your shiny black feathers to use in an art piece. If you agree to send me a feather, I will burn sage and juniper leaves in your honor.”

I waited for my feather. At lunchtime I even walked beneath his tree looking for it. No feather. I laughed at myself, but that night I burned the sage and juniper anyway. No feather. I stopped looking for it.

About three weeks later I was driving down the busy thoroughfare of Olympic Boulevard, late to a doctor’s appointment I absolutely had to make. The boulevard has a wide, parklike strip of green down the middle dividing the eastbound and westbound traffic, but absolutely no parking on that section of the street. I pulled to a stop at a light, not thinking about anything in particular except how late I was and what a hurry I was in. The light turned green and I stepped on the gas—and at just that moment a lovely, shiny black crow feather seemed to appear out of nowhere, blowing along the green strip of grass just beside my car.

In about five seconds flat I had a decision to make: do I stop the car in the intersection and run after the feather, provoking outrage in the cars behind me; or go east to the nearest turn around, come back and search for the feather, provoking the drivers on that side of the boulevard; or do I let the feather go and proceed to my appointment? Most people who have heard this story say at this point, “You should have stopped for the feather!” But in the seconds required to make my decision, I had an epiphany. I had to let the feather go. It was not that I had asked too much of Mr. Crow. He had been willing to give the feather, but wanted me to appreciate his cosmic joke. It was as if he said, “You make the decision whether you want to live in the world, or in the spirit world. The choice is yours, and my feather is the symbol.” On this day, I chose to live in the world, and continued on to my doctor’s appointment.

I laughed long and hard at the splendid joke I’d played on myself. The trickster cannot trick us unless we are willing participants. We are the ultimate cosmic jokers on ourselves. In the years since, I’ve also realized the other part of this lesson is that we sometimes have to let go of our notion that we can control life, nature, the randomness of events. . . anything, really. If we’re going to keep our sanity, we have to reconcile ourselves to this fundamental lack of power, and learn to live with life’s basic unpredictability. We have to be careful not to buy into the illusion of the world, of controlling and bending nature (life) to our will.

And so there came a day I told this story to F. while walking back to Avalon from the Wrigley Monument on Santa Catalina Island. She appreciated the irony and we laughed a great deal when I got to the part where the feather blew in front of my car and I had to leave. At that precise moment, the crows in the eucalyptus trees lining our path joined in, breaking into a loud and raucous cawing as we passed.

And so there came another day when I realized once and for all that a relationship had ended. It was a painful ending to an association that never stood much of a chance, but I’d walked into it with eyes wide shut, believing I could make of it what it wasn’t. On that day, I knew I had to give it up, that it had never really been mine. As I walked back to my car, I thought about the lessons of the tricksters and how very badly I had fooled myself. There on the ground, centered just behind my car’s back bumper, was a lovely, shining black crow feather.

 

Random quote of the day: 

“I don’t believe in magic, but I believe in interpreting coincidence exactly the way you want to.”

—Sherman Alexie, Twitterfeed, 2/29/12

coincidence4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

1. When I heard that WFC would be in San Diego in 2011 I thought, “Oh hell, for sure I can go, even if it’s just to drive down for a day.” Life had other plans, unfortunately. And, truth told, I might not have gone, despite my optimism. Every year I plan to go to Loscon, which takes place about 10 miles from my house on Thanksgiving weekend, aaaaaaaand…I don’t go. I should never underestimate the power of my own sloth.

2. Mom had some scary issues this week, but the doctors think they were due to water retention (always a hazard with dialysis). Since they’ve up the Lasix, the problems have improved.

3. I have injured my knee. My good knee. I pulled a muscle along the side of the knee, which has happened before, but now the joint is stiff and swollen as well. The bad knee, ironically, is doing much, much better. *sigh*

4. I’ve been studying Native American gender identity issues for some time now, but my interest has revived over the last couple of weeks as I’ve worked on the research for The Numberless Stars. I’ve been poking at the cultural mores of different tribes regarding attitudes towards the third sex, the berdache, as anthropologists have labeled them. In the kind of synchronicity that often occurs when I start seriously poking at some research, this popped up on LJ’s little_details. Very helpful indeed. I’ve already ordered the Williams book and one other. Both cheap used copies, of course.

5. TGIF. Putting a hundred extra miles (or more) on the car per week is rather draining, but today all that is required of me is to be at work. Tomorrow I actually get three hours to myself while Mom is at dialysis, and Sunday, the blessed day, I don’t have to go anywhere at all. Chores, sure, but I don’t have to drive anywhere. I try to keep that sacrosanct about Sundays.

It’s been a cleaning frenzy at our house.  While I’ve been dealing with boxes and boxes of stuff in the garage, I finally was forced to the realization that I cannot do all that needs doing myself.  It’s a strange combination of guilt and relief I’m feeling right now.

It’s 5:45 and we’re still waiting for the doctor. Last time I take a 4:45 appointment. [Note: We didn’t leave his office until 6:30.] 17 Feb

On the way to work I listened to NPR and they had a little bit about astronauts going into hibernation sleep on long space voyages. 18 Feb

As I stopped at the sensor where my garage pass opens the door Keir Dullea said “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.” Hal: “I can’t do that, Dave.” 18 Feb

Fortunately, the pod bay doors opened, but I was laughing so hard by then. Sometimes life is a synchronistic delight. 18 Feb

So, read a good book and try to stay awake or kill mutants? Which of these? …The good book… 19 Feb

On this night in 1814 Byron was debating the existence of God in his diary. 18 Feb

There’s hope for us older gals after all… 18 Feb

Lightning. Thunder. Min went under the bed. 19 Feb

Torrential rain and wind at the moment. Sure glad not to be out in it but my dinner is going to get wet. Poor delivery guy. 19 Feb

I would’ve liked to stay in my jammies all day but the Box Unload Marathon cannot be denied. Woe! 20 Feb

I can’t believe no one has tweeted in the last 47 minutes. Not sure I trust you, Edwin Droid. 21 Feb

To do list: finish Drood, start The Mystery of Edwin Drood. 21 Feb

selfavowedgeek Berrien C. Henderson Retweeted by pj_thompson Signal Boost: Francesca Forrest’s story, “The Yew’s Embrace”–http://www.strangehorizons.com/2011/20110221/yew-f.shtml 21 Feb

For the 1st time in my life I paid someone to clean my house. I actually feel kind of ashamed. But I expect I’ll get over it. 21 Feb

With my bad knees and shoulder I couldn’t do the scrubbing needed and Mom sure couldn’t. 21 Feb