“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Lately I’ve been fascinated by fortune-telling and all the facets that go with it. Not out of the blue, of course. In April, I was at a party my African friend had hosted and (how could it else be) he gave his guests the opportunity to have their future foretold by a local palm-reader. She was a native New Yorker but of Russian descent (they always like to put a piece of gypsy history in there) and offered her services anywhere from a 5-minute-personality-reading to a full-blown tarot-card-laying, revealing every facet of one’s future life (health, work, life, love). I opted for the shorter option, a quick palm-reading of my hand.
So far, I’ve only had a palm-reading once before, this was in Central Park shortly after I arrived in New York. The guy was also of gypsy –descent but what I liked about him was the fact that he didn’t read my left hand, which reveals the set path of life, but instead my right hand. “The right symbolizes potential – all that can and will be changed by you throughout your life” he explained. Meaning anything that he would read to me was subject to change eventually.
Well, this woman also read my left hand but she didn’t regard it as potential but more of a set path. She announced a few things of my former life which happened to be true and specified a few of my personality traits. What made her a bit unconvincing was the fact that she did not see any of my creativity at all (I am a freelance photographer and have been drawn to the visual field for a long time) nor did she see that I had been in a long-term relationship for the past 2 years (!). She then went on in predicting a few things here and there of my future, which I’d already had planned out in my head long ago (traveling extensively for one). I decided to not pursue further business with her and leave it at those deciding 5 minutes.
The fact that she had been so right about one thing but then so wrong about another really puzzled me. Some of the other guests and I discussed our results over Moroccan dinner and drinks afterwards, trying to find out if she had been right mostly. This one guy had a clear theory on how psychics measure their subject. “It’s all about the vibes you emit and the moods you are in,” he said while sipping away on his Sangria.“ – “Look at her, she is exhausted. She is not doing more than being a medium for those vibes and she senses what is currently going on in a person’s life. People make money off of all kinds of gifts, why not of this one?” he concluded.
I truly believe that there are some gifted fortune tellers out there and that this theory makes sense in every possible way. The world is not overly complicated. People have feelings. People display body language. And people emit certain vibes or radiations (if you’ve ever walked into a room where two people have fought and sense the tenseness in the air, you know what I mean). However, I also believe that some palm-readers are not successful at translating these vibes or perhaps they are having a “bad” day in doing so.
Regardless, from the conversation and my past experience with psychics (mostly in New York), I’ve formed a question in my head. It is not one of “which fortune-teller do I go to.” It is more about “do I want to know my future.” It’s been the question I have been asking myself ever since I’ve come in touch with palm-readers, card-layers and perhaps even astrology. I am not alone in seeking a meaning to life. My life. The obsessions with one’s path has been about as old as everything else in humankind. Some people are even so pre-occupied with knowing their future that they will pay thousands of dollars to go to a “celebrity” fortune teller. Or drop a high sum for their personalized astrology horoscope.
Knowing the future can take anxiety away, I get it. It might ease away the restless nights when one thinks about how life will develop and if everything will be okay. But do we really want to know how many children we will have, when we will marry and if our career will excel? The ups and downs we will be going through, the joys and pains we will experience in a life ahead of us?
It’s an old controversy I’ve been fighting for a long time. Every time I am going through a rough patch and imagine how things would be a year from now, I have to consciously halt myself. My life has changed immensely over the course of the past 5 years. Had I known with 21 that soon I’d be living in New York, writing and photographing away, would I have put as much effort into my life the way I had to so that I could get to this point? If I were to know that I’d be living in a different country in 5 years from now or be married and have children, would I be wondering every day of my life if this is the day things “changed”?
No, I would be living on borrowed time. In a rather sad way, too.
The truth with the future is: It’s complicated. Ways are intertwined in a way no one can comprehend by simply looking at it or reading one’s palm. The past, present, and future work in a unison, carrying over self-doubt, pre-conceived notions and confidence from past experience to present ideas and then making them happen in the future. Shaping one’s own future begins now and has already started in previous times more than we could imagine. Trying to overcome the fear of the uncertain by predicting one’s future is like missing out on the best part of a party: The unexpected. The dangerous undertone that underlies each adventure. The happiness you can feel when experiencing simple things. And living life in the present moment.
Returning to the fortune-teller in the beginning: She successfully displayed personality traits I had and hadn’t known of. But so far the future she outlined for me has not proven to be true (the cut-off for a certain life event was in June, which is almost over). The future is displayed in an on-going, ever-changing flux. To predict it accurately is nearly impossible. I therefore do not hold it against her abilities that some things were true and some were not. But I’ve also decided to quit this ‘nonsense’ and actively create my future the way I want it to be. To the best of my capabilities.