Some years back I found myself standing in a small, tastefully decorated room, more like a psychiatrist’s office than a psychic’s, paying $60 for a hint at time yet to pass, $40 more if I wanted the in-depth version. It was one of those celebratory Sundays before Labor Day, the kind you drink all day, toasting at brunch with your friends, “Sunday Funday!” We had just finished taking turns steamrolling my broken iPhone in the middle of State Street (see how fun Sunday Fundays are?!?!) when we came across My Future.
I had never wanted my fortune told, never even been curious, preferring to let fate do its thing, let sleeping dogs lie, a leopard can’t change its spots, que sera sera, and what have you. But that Sunday, the small placard beamed out nonexistent rays of lights and grabbed onto the drunken curiosity that must have always been there, tucked away under Logic. The non-illuminated sign was twice as bright as any tacky neon sign on State Street, and it was focused right on me, deer in a headlight, hand in the cookie jar. Busted.
I went in. It was not good.
It doesn’t matter if you believe in this psychic, tarot-reading, hippie, gypsy, astrologically insane bullshit or not, because this is just a simple retelling of facts. Here is the very abridged version of what happened that fateful Sunday:
The lady asked for a possession. I gave her a ring I had been wearing for years.
Ah, this means something to you. Someone in your family gave it to you, the one you are closest to, a sister.
Blah blah, I am going to say three things I see in this ring. Do not confirm or deny, in fact, don’t say anything, try not to let any emotion enter your face as I am speaking. Then you can decide if you want to continue. Otherwise you can walk out, and I will give you your money back. Yes?
She proceeded to mention three personal things in such detail that my friend Jenny who was in the room with me looked at me with wide eyes and shook her head, “Uh, way too creepy, maybe you shouldn’t continue.” Now that I think of it, she started to cry. I might have too, I can’t remember. It was kind of intense.
Maybe I shouldn’t have continued, but I did. I had to, this lady was freaking me out with her tiny details, and not the details you can say, well that can apply to anyone. These things could not apply to anyone. So. We continued.
Basically, her prognosis for my future sounded something like this:
You are on a downward spiral. If you keep doing what you are doing, living how you are living, making these choices, you’ll continue down that path, and it will be very hard to climb back out of that hole you’re digging. You aren’t happy, even though you wear your happy face well. Yada yada blurb, blah. I don’t enjoy giving readings like this, but I cannot say I am sorry. I think it’s important you know. I feel better that you know.
Well, I sure am glad you feel better, lady. She removed the colorful string of chakra beads from her wrist and pressed them into my hands. She looked worried. A little too worried.
You need these more than I do.
Uh, thanks? Not exactly a yay! life moment, to be told I was driving my life into the ground, into a deep, dark hole, not even with enough sense to bring a rope down to help pull me back up. I was sort of like, screw you lady, YOU DON’T KNOW ME, but at the same time, the inside me was like, how the f*ck do you know me? Because deep down, we all know the truth about ourselves. We might not like it, or want to know it, but we know.
Back to today. In exactly one week to the hour, I will step aboard a hopefully well-constructed piece of metal that will hurl me back in time, transport me back to the real world, dumping me just inside the border of the United States of America.
I bought my last ticket to See The World today, a train ticket to Prague, from where I’ll slowly make my way to that airplane over the next seven days. Gone are the days of looking at a map, a forever of possibilities, my oyster shimmering in the sea, wondering which country, which city, town, village to meet next. No more waking up and searching train schedules I can’t read, learning how to say please, hello, and thank you in another language, navigating foreign streets. One last hurrah successfully getting from here to there with this giant fracking pack. One more week. One more. One.
Over the summer, my friend Michelle asked if my trip had started to help give me direction on where to go in life. Interesting question I hadn’t thought to think. This adventure has given me so much, but direction isn’t one of them.
But isn’t that okay? So many people (Past Me included, I can’t speak for Future Me) seem to be constantly searching for something they can’t find, striving for something they can’t have, and even when they find it, even when they get it, they still aren’t satisfied and need to come up with something new to find and get. Present Me can’t do that anymore. Because I don’t have this giant end goal in life. I am not working toward anything with a finish line. I don’t have one direction. (Though I did buy some sweet shower sandals that say ‘I Heart One Direction’ in Scotland. Those are definitely coming home with me.)
You know that interview question, where do you see yourself in five years (another question Michelle wondered if I could answer)? My answer: You know, I used to think I knew, but I don’t. Because I am nowhere near (literally, different continents) to where I thought I would be five years ago. I’ve changed so much, my mind, my wants and needs, my thought process. And I’m not done changing. I’ve tried playing that game, the one where I think where I can predict the future. I can’t. Why would I want to? Life is full of surprises, but only if you look at it through an unfixed lens. Otherwise it becomes full of obstacles and dilemmas instead of adventures and opportunities. So, potential employer, I have no idea where I see myself in five years, and that’s the way I like it.
I think the biggest gift this experience has given me is releasing that dire need to Know. I don’t need a five-year plan. Or want one. I’m not even crazy about the one week plan these days. I don’t want to happily (or more likely, unhappily) follow that green Fidelity line into a comfortable retirement. I’m not looking for the direction some people crave. Direction, goals, I get it, having both gets so many people so very far. But I found them constrictive. I fell in love with the open life, getting lost on those side streets, taking those acute corners, shrugging my shoulders and turning around at the occasional dead-end. My life is open for any direction, as long as it’s not down.
Because I am definitely no longer spiraling downward into the cold black abyss of lost life. I hope you are reading this, Janet.
Side note: This article is from 2007, around the time I walked in to the Psychic Gallery. I have no idea if she is still there, but I have a feeling she might be my first stop when I get back to Madison. Stay tuned…