Positively Aware Editor Jeff Berry
Jeff Berry @paeditor

Synchronicity

With one breath, with one flow
You will know
Synchronicity

A sleep trance, a dream dance,
A shared romance,
Synchronicity

A connecting principle,
Linked to the invisible
Almost imperceptible
Something inexpressible.
Science insusceptible
Logic so inflexible
Causally connectible
Yet nothing is invincible

            —The Police

Last September during the United States Conference on AIDS in Washington D.C., I was waiting for the elevator on the top floor of the hotel when I realized I had forgotten my conference badge, and had to rush back to my room. When I called for the elevator again, a few moments later the door opened, and two gentlemen stood there looking somewhat perplexed as they glanced at the buttons—it seems they had missed their floor. I said something witty and hilarious (maybe not, but it seemed so at the time), and we all had a good chuckle. I introduced myself, and that’s when I met Joel Goldman and Zakk Marquez of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The events that followed eventually led to an article in this issue about actress Kate Burton and her work for the foundation.

They say nothing happens by coincidence and when things like that happen, it’s kind of hard not to believe it. I like to recall the story my mother told of when she saw my dad for the first time across the room in a bar, while engaged to another guy, and she experienced déjà vu. She knew at that moment that my dad was the one. I had a similar sense of déjà vu when I saw my (future) partner Stephen across the crowd at Folsom Street Fair, some years ago (I choose not to dwell on exactly how many years ago, let’s just say “some”). It was not by chance, and I’ll never forget that moment.

This issue has synchronicity woven throughout its pages. Our feature story on women and HIV by Olivia Ford was sparked during another meeting, which immediately preceded USCA, the NLGJA gay journalists association 25th anniversary conference. Olivia and I sat together on a panel about HIV/AIDS and the media, along with POZ editor Oriol Gutierrez and Diane Anderson-Minshall, editor of Plus magazine. I caught up with Olivia in the hallway afterwards and we chatted briefly, and I knew then that she was the one to write this article.

When PA’s creative director Rick Guasco recently posted a heartfelt message on Facebook about starting treatment again after a three-year self-imposed hiatus, activist Tim Horn’s comment was, “Give this man a word count.” And so, I did. The result is a realistic portrayal of why we may make the choices we make, and ultimately how initiating treatment is a very personal decision—one that can only be made when a person is ready.

In my editor’s note in the last issue (“What can I say?” November+December 2015) I write about experiencing a writer’s block “of sorts,” and how when I hear from someone that my writing has moved them, it’s incredibly meaningful.

Yesterday, I was handed a packet sent to me from an inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. In it was a cover letter from a peer educator along with 11 handwritten letters from some of his fellow inmates, all dated August of 2013. It seems that only now was he able to get these letters to me, partially due to not having enough money for postage. For his HIV/AIDS awareness class, which was made up of all HIV-negative guys, he had them read my editor’s note from the July+August 2013 issue of POSITIVELY AWARE titled, “The Struggle to be Authentic.” Afterward he gave each an assignment to compose a letter to the editor in response, written as if they were HIV-positive.

As I read through each letter I was deeply moved, and one by one my worries about writer’s block, what I write, or whether I was having any impact melted away. I realized that it’s not up to me to worry about it, that we are all exactly where we need to be, doing what we need to do—and that we are all both teachers and students at the same time.

So I believe in synchronicity, serendipity, happy coincidences, whatever you want to call it. I believe that each of us has a story to tell, a unique take on the world we live in, and one with value that deserves to be heard. I believe that in sharing our stories with one another, we begin to see more of that which we have in common, rather than what sets us apart. I believe that listening is half of the conversation, and that we need only to open ourselves up to the possibility of miracles, for them to begin to happen.

My hope for everyone is that 2016 will be a year of happy coincidences and synchronicity. Step aside, move out of the way, and let them begin to happen.

Take care of yourself, and each other.