What was it that changed you? What happened to make the first domino of life as you’d come to know it tumble down in a cascade of awakening? How did you start the process of freeing yourself from the hyper mediated, distracted, Starbucks state of mind of late capitalism, in which we feel privileged to pay lots of money just to exist?
Was it a near death experience, a psychedelic journey, giving birth, or a profound connection to nature that broke open your head? Maybe you changed your diet, or your gender. I’ve learned that the difference between the doorways can be immense, and yet they all lead to the same place of revelation, in which the reality of our individual world is broken down, and a new, fuller way of being is recalled and revealed.
For me it was the death of my aunt that opened the portal. I’d always been close with Nancy. As a little girl I loved looking through her record collection which included Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and The Beatles. I remember staring transfixed at the iconic picture of George Harrison with his palm open and a third eye painted on his face as she explained to me that he was “always her favorite.” When I was older I came out to her before most of my family and brought my girlfriend to stay with her in Barcelona, where we all partied in discotheques and watched old movies in her mirror filled apartment. The Wizard of OZ, Gone With the Wind…epic tales that filled me with a strange sense of longing, perhaps for my own story that was just beginning. In that regard Nancy was someone I looked up to, having left behind her shitty but well-paying corporate job in Pennsylvania after falling in love with Barcelona. She was often struggling to make ends meet, going from one crazy entrepreneurial scheme to another, but she seemed happy to me in a way that other adults were not. Her life was an adventure, and she was living it fully.
She died the same way—brave, aware, and without regrets. She was so strong that no one thought it was serious when she first got sick. After being misdiagnosed over and over and believing that the pain in her shoulder was something a chiropractor or orthopedic shoes could fix, she was finally told that it was lung cancer and it had already spread throughout her body. It all happened so quickly. She called me at work one day shortly after we found out and asked me to come to Spain with my mom and brother. She urged me to hurry. I can still hear her voice, hollowed out by the pain and uncharacteristically demanding as she made me promise that I would come. “It’s going to be hard,” she said, “But you will be there to help one another.”
I agreed to come, thinking we’d visit and figure out the strategy for bringing her back with us to the States for treatment. Despite her insistence that we hurry, not once did I consider that this would be the last time I’d see her. I told myself she was young and that the diagnosis had just been given. We were going to fight this thing.
At the time I was working in IT and not sure what, if anything, I was doing to fulfill my dream of being a writer. I’d come to have a very dark view of the world. I was scared all the time because I knew that even with all the hard work necessary to survive something could happen at any moment that destroyed my life. My existence of expensive dinners and designer clothes seemed so tenuous, a plot that had been run through a million times before. I was the clichéd movie character, right before the dramatic moment of stark realization. I had a lot of anxiety at this time, looking back I think it’s because a part of me knew something was ending.
A few weeks later, as Nancy lay dying in front of me, my understanding of time and what it meant to exist in it was forever changed. Everything fit perfectly into place and I could see it, if only for a flash. There was no fear, no final end—only an unending love connecting everyone and everything. I didn’t see it as much as I felt it—a universal ebb and flow in which we each played our part.
On the one hand witnessing her death made me realize it was a completely natural event; in the same way that we have our first inhalation, there comes a time when we exhale and don’t inhale again. This was a matter-of-fact, but its actual occurrence was extraordinary, revealing an underlying layer to reality that was beyond what I’d known up until then. The whole trip was uncanny in nature from its start. A series of synchronicities cast their magical vibe over everything. This was the first time I had so many of them at one time. There were many little things, like certain times I kept seeing or words that popped up in multiple places over the course of the day. But the big ones included meetings with an English speaking doctor who was not working on my aunt’s case but had met her and admitted to being drawn to her and wanting to help. He “happened” to show up whenever we were at our lowest as we tried to navigate the hospital’s foreign bureaucracy. It didn’t matter if we were in someone’s office, the cafeteria or parking lot—he would just show up out of the blue. Then there were the daisies that seemed to follow us everywhere, from the airport all the way to my aunt’s hospital bed, where she was very particular about keeping a small stuffed doll that was a daisy with a smiling face near her bed at all times, requesting that we fix it if its head wasn’t straight—a task that required regular maintenance as the wire inside the little guy wasn’t strong and he always fell over. On the night before her death, we noticed that someone—we never found out who– had replaced the stuffed daisy with a real one that sat bolt upright in a small vase. I remember that when she died the next morning, I looked over to see that the daisy had slumped its head in a way identical to the stuffed one, which we later found tucked away in the closet.
On the morning that she passed, we were supposed to be at the airport for our flight home, having heard from the doctors that she had “at least another six months” which gave us time to make arrangements and come back in a few weeks. As we got in the cab, however, I was filled with the overwhelming need to go back to the hospital. I urged my mother to let us stop on the way to the airport, just for a quick goodbye. When we got to her floor the nurses came rushing over in a way that felt like a betrayal after all their calm sauntering on our other visits: “We’ve been trying to call you at the hotel, but they said you already left!” they said. They were relieved that we had gotten in touch with the front desk after all and were confused when I tried to explain that we hadn’t spoken to anyone at the hotel, and that something unknown had compelled us to comeback. But I couldn’t explain this with my terrible Spanish.
The feeling had been one of urgency but also irritation, like the idea of going back was an intense itch across my entire body. It seemed related to whatever it was that moved around the room when she passed. There was an exhalation (which something had already told me was going to be the final one) followed by a prolonged silence in which an ever-widening gulf opened between us as it became increasingly clear with each passing moment that she wasn’t going to breathe in again. Suddenly, something in the room changed—something invisible moved–like a shift in temperature or electrical charge, a force like the near constant wind outside the hospital. I say “like” the wind because it wasn’t wind; it was something at once utterly strange and familiar. I felt that we all knew what it was without saying—even me, the so-called atheist. It was a moment of frantic wonder, in which my mother, brother and I were caught mid-sobs, watching as one of the nurses hurried over to the window and quickly cranked open its ancient metal frame. It rattled several times and then the room became still.
Stunned as I was I tried to explain what I experienced in terms of being emotionally stressed out but upon my return to the States I experienced synchronicity after synchronicity, coming at me rapidly, as though the pent-up force that had been released in that room was following me. Unsure of what was happening, I decided to treat the syncs as being clues to something I had to figure out. In spite of increasingly powerful mood springs and energetic shifts, in which I’d either be laid out with exhaustion or up late with a fear of the dark, I tried to be as scientific as possible about my observations, having bracketed off the bias of my shattered state and the very real chance that I was having a nervous breakdown. My research led me to master numbers, occult symbols and conspiracy theories and as much as I wanted to reject it all as nonsense, the uncanny nature of the persistent syncs forced me to keep an open mind. As I went further and further down the rabbit hole, the world as I knew it changed.
I started to realize that although they seem magical, synchronicities are natural, just like death. They take us outside of the everyday and reconnect us with the nature that is always just under the surface. The syncs are moments of connection with our natural selves, the one not controlled by clocks or the amount of money we need to make an hour.
I went from book to book, website to website, with the feeling that I was being guided by invisible forces. Perhaps even by Nancy herself. The possibility that she still existed in some formless form was one I opened up to more and more, especially when it felt as though a friendly hand was guiding me through the city. Like one time, when I was at a low point and feeling sorry for myself when a sudden cloudburst sent me running into the nearest store, which happened to be a Barnes and Noble. I walked aimlessly while I dried off and banged my hip against a low lying table of books. Looking down the first one to catch my eye was Daniel Pinchbeck’s 2012, The Return of Quetzacoatl. I was meant to learn about these things! The more I reached out, the more I realized that many people were experiencing the kinds of things I was experiencing. I found bloggers who wrote about the profound boundary loss that was part of the sync experience (especially if strong weed was involved), in which the outside world seemed to correspond directly to your inner most thoughts. Their brave and slightly insane writings made me wanted to share my own syncs, something I eventually started doing online and in print.
Did Nancy, either consciously or unconsciously know that witnessing her death would be the catalyst of what can only be called a spiritual awakening in me? I’ve rejected that idea a long time, because it seemed steeped in my own egoic projections upon an event that was not mine to claim. But still, there’s a truth to it…had I not experienced her passing I wouldn’t have had the feeling of walking out among those mountains after it was over. Leaving the hospital and feeling spring everywhere and noticing the little flowers on the dry brown soil and realizing that nothing was ever lost. I was seeing with a new, clearer vision that seemed directly connected to the searing grief in my chest—and to the synchronicities that were suddenly everywhere.
After years of trying to get the essence of sync down on paper, I finally realized that film’s a better medium to capture the joy inherent in its experience—that deep sense of there being a flowing connection with everyone and everything that’s felt so strongly, even for just a moment. Written language is too rigid—the nouns and verbs are treated as forever separate, when sync teaches us that this is merely an illusion. Sync ripples out in a way that film is able to replicate with its layers of moving image and sound. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to do this justice with words. As sync would have it, I met the Time is Art (aka, “The Sync Movie”) filmmakers shortly after coming to this realization.
The filmmakers and I resisted trying to explain what synchronicity “means”, and instead filmed the philosophers, artists and healers talking to me about how it informed their work and layered this with imagery and audio from the synchronicities that were permeating the making of the film. In this way we steered away from the rigidness of a “talking heads” format and attempted instead to create a portal for people to actually experience synchronicity for themselves. Because this project doesn’t end with the movie, we hope people will share the syncs they get from the film, and perhaps be filmed themselves for our ongoing #SyncStories web series.
A new world is coming. In the three years of making this film I think of all the other journeys that have been happening in sync with my own: all of the first yoga classes, the first time reading Jose Arguelles or watching a Terrence McKenna video, the first time getting high, the first planted seed, the first healthy meal, the first time creating something they wanted to share and the first time they see the person they fall in love with… There are so many openings, millions of them. People are waking up and learning how to live and love and begin the long work of repairing their individual relationship to the Earth and finding balance in their lives and in their communities. It’s not on the news but it’s happening. This film documents a shift in ideas taking place on the level of scientists and thinkers like Graham Hancock, Amy Lansky, Rupert Sheldrake, Jill Purce, Daniel Pinchbeck and others that’s simultaneously being channeled through artists and musicians like Alex and Allyson Grey, East Forest and Chris Soria. Sync is helping us come back into awareness of the feminine power of the earth—merging it with the masculine know-how of the technosphere. I believe everyone who is alive now was invited to play a part in a great opening into a healthier, more inclusive and loving way of being that’s in balance with the Earth. This film is a product of our amazing time.