Alexander Sylvester

Introspective Musings

# 7

Serendipity - Life's Rhyme Scheme

explore, create, inspire

Our experiences, stories and introspective journey's are most powerful when shared and discussed. It is here that I want to share an intimate, personal experience with others instead of clawing through the noise of social media feeds. Couple with the visual art I've produced over the years, Introspective Musings is the bridge between audience and artist; a written account of how these visions come to be.

Serendipity - Life's Rhyme Scheme

Tranquility, 11x14 ink and colored pencil (2020)


January 20th, 2021. I’m sure if you are an American, this date is going to mean a lot to you. I’m sure this date, at this exact moment, is causing you some sort of anxiety. It may just be background noise, but it’s on your mind nonetheless. In the wake of this perpetual, floating space we call uncertainty in a “post-truth” world, a cloud hangs overhead. Through the darkened shroud, closure can be seen trudging onward, with a sense of volition that only comes from the weight of consequence; of the inevitable. 

To many this will be a day of great importance, one for the history books. A day where we collectively are granted a glimpse toward the road ahead, and what should hopefully amount to the next first steps. I feel it as strongly as you all, but for me this day holds a much more direct and personal significance.

As fate would have it, the spirit of Serendipity seems to have left me another bread crumb to follow, further distancing me away from feeling any connection to this idea we call “coincidence”. In finalizing the paperwork and process for getting a divorce, we received notice that everything will be complete by January 20th, 2021. We will be officially and totally divorced by Inauguration day. An omen perhaps, or possibly the winds of change synchronizing in a harmonious dance to welcome in a new chapter for this individual to feel like a microcosm to the seismic shifts happening throughout this nation. 

Queue the paranoid self, the one who feels as though my brain chemistry is connecting all of the dots to lead to some extraordinary conclusion that we are all connected by some divine force. Maybe, through no fault but the human condition, I am doing one of the things we conscious individuals do best; We search for patterns and answers to life’s “Great Mystery”. However, this pathway leads to a dead end and feels incomplete, no matter how little I believe in a higher power. It starts and stops at their being no significance in even recognizing these instances of serendipitous experience.

In purely being an accident, just a collision of chaotic forces being in the right place at the right time¹, my cynical instincts allow very little room for interpretation and imagination to settle their roots into a potentially transformative train of thought. However, my cynical self has gotten awfully quiet over the last 2-3 years. I can’t say I am strictly an optimist, but there’s a part of me I’m discovering that wants² to put weight into hope and positive energy whenever and however I can. 

I have a feeling, feel free to call it whatever you choose, that has been brewing in me more and more about the relationship we have with this idea we call “Coincidence”. This feeling stems from being dead center between a place of spirituality and cold, scientific rationale. Deep down it’s not lost on me that we are wired to see patterns and make connections, as it’s benefited our innate instinct for survival and evolution of thought. However I also can’t help but wonder, what if there is something more to these moments externally; energy pushing and pulling us in directions that we manifest through our thoughts, feelings and actions. 

Where The Ends Meet (2020), I think my favorite instance of what I'm getting at was during the making of Where the Ends Meet. We needed a filming location for our film about a mother struggling to get herself on her feet, let alone feed her daughter. While brainstorming locations it clicked in my head to check with my one of my closest and dearest friends, whose childhood home was full of stories and experiences very similar and reflective of the film's themes.

It’s easy to say the reason you met your significant other was purely by a chaotic roll of the dice, but what if two individuals internalized wants and needs for intimate connection that lead them both to follow similar trailheads that allowed them to cross paths to begin with? I’m not asking this question for this idea to be “debunked” necessarily, because I also see where a more rationally minded argument would find additional questions to refute this idea. But it’s not untrue to say we are, at our core, all connected to each other through sharing a space on planet earth. Our actions and inactions emanate a ripple effect to everything around us, something that is observable. So what if the same is true for our internal worlds? What if there’s more to recognizing patterns and coincidences? What can this do to our personal story we have of ourselves? Is this a tool, or just a process? 

This curiosity of mine, I believe, started through the artistic process, in tandem with my current and past life experiences. The first time I really began to follow this rabbit hole was immediately after finishing the editing for Burden (one of three short films that can be found in my collection here on Filmabee³). After rendering the final export, I decided to show it to Elizabeth for the first time since she had only seen clips throughout post production. We sat in total silence while watching the film, exercising my restraint to make commentary or watch her reaction to the film until the very end. As the credits rolled, I look over to see Elizabeth in tears. We both knew the reason I made the film was to reflect on how depression had affected our relationship back in 2016. But she began listing off a handful of moments in the film that were very intimate for her, as they seemed like I had injected purposeful details about her. This wasn’t the case however, all just a matter of...coincidence. 

Two specific instances - When Elizabeth had to move into my basement when living in Seattle, she had all of her belongings packed in boxes, stacked similarly to the above frame from Burden. I unconsciously included this imagery without directly considering that experience an influence. This was also filmed in an apartment #202 in the University District of Seattle. A few years prior to us meeting, she had lived in another apartment #202 in a different building not 7 or 8 blocks away from this building.

Since then the frequency of these experiences has kept a steady pace even as I write this out, especially during the artistic process. Within filmmaking in particular, I found myself being met by endless gifts from Serendipity, moments that make you take pause and reflect. Even with something as seemingly insignificant as a train chugging by during an audition with someone who ends up being selected for the role, only to play a character whose emotional state is matched up with imagery of a speeding train. These are moments that, for whatever reason that they occur, rhyme almost so perfectly it truly feels like a cheeky wink from the universe. Like a reminder that, even in all of the noise and nonsense that comes with existence, there is balance and order to just being. It’s not something that can be controlled or maneuvered. It just happens and it just is. 

What's weird about the events that occurred throughout making Way Out of Here is that the film was meant to be a reflection of a very specific time in my adolescence, and pre-production plus principle photography were filled with strange events that called on not just my own past, but other's as well.
One of the stranger ones is that one of the actors in the scene, Eric-Jacob Slabough, played one of the friends of our main character. In the scene they are playing Halo 2 and saying the surface level insults most teenagers spit at each other, a scene straight from many moments of my childhood. The eerie part, is that when talking to Eric on set, he asked us to just call him EJ. This made me take pause, because I have a friend I've known since middle school, who I used to play Halo 2 with online, who had the same initials and also goes by EJ and first name was...Eric.

This is why I ask, is this a tool? Can we use this to our advantage, for personal growth and exploration? Whether or not the patterns on their own are complete chance, at this point, is null. I have asked myself countless times if this is what fate looks and feels like, is it magnetic energy, etc. The conclusion I seem to arrive at by this point then, is what insights can these moments offer?

More than anything, this particular train of thought is a genuine curiosity of mine as I have found it leaving me more-so with a sense of youthful wonder than anything else. It reminds me that life’s most memorable instances are the small moments where life just works out. Where we get a moment to sit and watch the sunset and the perfect song nested deep in your evening playlist comes on. These moments are among the many that shape us and our inner worlds. They take us out of auto pilot even for a moment in recognition of the bizarre. 

January 20th, 2021 is going to be a day of massive importance and implication for us all. I wonder about all the other souls out there who will likely undergo something of great personal significance on that day, and if it’s going to feel as much like a new chapter to be written like it will be for me. I know on that day, I plan to unplug and reflect; to use that moment to take careful consideration into who I am now and who I wish to be going forward. To consider the strangeness of these events matching up in tandem and what that could signify in my personal narrative. It couldn’t hurt to consider. 

_______________________________

¹ Right place and right time pending. This may in fact be a matter of right place and wrong time, or wrong place and right time. Or even wrong place, wrong time. The status of this may take anywhere from 3-500 business days to be made final. 

² Correction - Needs

³ Shameless plug, I know I know. Additionally shameless, the link the short film collection

Alternatively, this tool can and has been used for good, evil and all of the shades of grey in between throughout human history. But that’s another conversation for another day.


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We will be officially and totally divorced by Inauguration day. An omen perhaps, or possibly the winds of change synchronizing in a harmonious dance... Click To Tweet

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I have a feeling, feel free to call it whatever you choose, that has been brewing in me more and more about the relationship we have with this idea we call “Coincidence”. This feeling stems from being dead center between a place of spirituality and cold, scientific rationale. Deep down it’s not lost on me that we are wired to see patterns and make connections, as it’s benefited our innate instinct for survival and evolution of thought.
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