There was a stage in my life when I would drive the length and breadth of Ireland to see a fortune teller. I was fascinated, obsessed even, with the future and what it held. Not known for my patience, I wanted to know today what I could expect tomorrow. I went to markets, caravans sites, suburban houses – and sat in line with scores of others curious to know what life had in store.
The same when I lived in the States. I remember once, in San Diego, going to see a fortune teller with two friends. We drew lots to see who’d go in first. I was in the middle. Both the others had readings they were happy with – but me? She refused to read me at all. In South Carolina, I saw a chap who predicted three outlandish things. I remember walking away chastising myself for wasting my money, resolving to give it all up. And then each of the three things came true. Can I remember his name or what city I was in? Nope!
I’d been looking forward to visiting Salem, MA. Of all the places we’d planned (or not planned) to visit on this trip, this was the one I most wanted to see. I’d been there years ago and wanted to revisit. It was here, in 1692, that about 150 people were accused of witchcraft and 19 were convicted and hanged for their sins. It was here that Mary Bradbury, on trial for witchery, uttered the words ‘wholly innocent’ a term still used today. The Salem Witch Trials are still frightening to read about – especially knowing that the essence of human nature has remained unchanged, and such things could likely happen again, if there was enough momentum and mass delusion.
But I also wanted to have my fortune told. It’s been a while, you see, since I’ve been read – I think the last time money changed hands was in Tatabanya, here in Hungary, some years ago when a gypsy woman told me I needed to get out of the convent and start to be more feminine. Mind you, she was speaking in Hungarian and I was relying on a male friend of mine to translate. I have no doubts at all about his fluency in Hungarian; it was the missing female nuances that concerned me.
But it was pouring with rain that day in Salem. Torrential. We had made the mistake of heading to Salem NH and in the traffic that had ground to a crawl with the poor visibility, time wasn’t on our side. So by the time we got to Salem, MA, instead of having the afternoon, we had about 45 minutes. And did I mention it was pouring?
I found the witches and wizards school (I kid you not) and found the famous FT that the likes of Charlie Sheen and such rely on, but she wasn’t there that day. The rates had gone up, too – $90 for 30 minutes. Was I really that interested?
It’s hard being a Catholic who cannot number patience among her (many?) virtues. Do I believe in a divine plan? In the gift of unanswered prayers? In the certainty that what is for me won’t pass me? Of course I do – without reserve. It’s just that I want it all to happen today or at least, to know by when I should expect it, so that I can decide what I want to do while I’m waiting.
Two weeks later though, I’m grateful that I didn’t get a reading. There’s lots of stuff up in the air right now, a lot of balls floating around taking their sweet time to land. And had I been told they might land in a certain way, I might be even more unbearable to live with (tolerance levels are at an all-time low as I’m punch-drunk with tiredness). There’s knowing and there’s knowing. And with knowing comes the need for decisions and decisiveness isn’t my forte, especially if I’m given any time at all to think. Am best with empty-handed leaps of faith than planned, orchestrated design – so why then the fascination with fortune tellers? I tell you – at times I confuse myself.
Another friend of mine died last week. Unexpectedly. And with every one who passes, I’m reminded even more forcefully that time is of the essence – we never know the day or the hour and we shouldn’t waste what time we have. But then I remember that I can’t make the grass grow any quicker by pulling on it. The divine plan will unfold at its own pace – and while I might be chomping at the bit, I need to take a deep breath and hold fast to the faith.
Mind you, I couldn’t resist buying a spell-infused candle… which lands me front and centre of the pick-and-mix Catholic brigade. Ah, the confusion of it all. But still, I’m grateful that I can at times even amuse myself with my figaries.