If a gifted psychic offered to tell you what lay ahead for you, would you listen?

Editor's Note: "Think About It" is a new, ongoing feature in Minnesota Parent; a place where our two editorial staffers, Jeannine Ouellette Howitz and Julia L. Ramirez, will recount firsthand experiences with offbeat subject matter. This month's topic is future-telling, next time we're thinking about rolfing (you'll have to watch this space to find out what that means). "Think About It" will appear here as often as we can manage to bring it to you. Please give us your feedback and share your ideas for topics.

JOH: So if we're going to get our charts done, or our tarot cards read, I guess we should decide if we think this stuff is for real.

JLR: I recently watched an ABC news special about "the power of the mind." Things from therapeutic touch to mind control were investigated. The segment on astrology and psychics caught my attention: the reporter had the birth chart of a serial killer compiled, photocopied, and distributed to a group of thirty people. Unbeknownst to them, they all received the same exact birth chart--the serial killer's. When they opened up their respective envelopes to read the incredible qualities they each possessed, one woman exclaimed with enthusiasm, "Oh, I love me." The reporter then asked how many of them believed their charts were accurate. About three-quarters of them raised their hands. He then told them they all had the same charts. They looked puzzled. Then he told them whose it was. They had been duped. All were expressionless.

JOH: I can believe that. But still, there has to be something to psychic power . . . there's been enough documented by now, and since most of us only use, what, ten percent of our brains . . . . But even if I knew the psychic was authentic, how much do I really want to know about my future? My kids' futures? Sometimes, considering how much I worry and fret, I wonder if it wouldn't be easier to have a forecast of upcoming events. If everything's going to turn out fine anyway, maybe I could relax more and obsess less. If everything is not going to be "fine," well, there's the hitch. Would I really want to know that ahead of time? Would I want to know I'm going to encounter sickness or tragedy? Would I want to know the predicted time of my own death?

JLR: Sadly enough, though I admit it with little shame, I have my daily horoscope emailed to me. Not that I truly believe in it, but I like to read what it has to say and see if my day turns out the way they predict it will. However, going to an actual "psychic" could possibly help fill in the missing pieces. Someone I know gave me the name of a "good psychic" we could see, one who does numerology, birth charts, and tarot readings. I'll call her Madame S. But in order to give a "fair" report, we should see two different people. A couple of years ago I went to a tarot reader. I've still got her card around. I'll give her--Madame T.-- a call.

TIME LAPSE

JOH: The door exhales warm cigarette smoke when S. opens it to invite us in. I'm having second thoughts, but after all, we're already here now. Julia makes me go first.

It's hard to concentrate for the first ten or fifteen minutes, because Madame S.'s enormous gray cat will not stop jumping on my lap. I like cats, there are two living at my own house, but this just isn't the time for me to cuddle. I need some space in this close, smoky room. Space to hear Madame S. as she does my numerology, observes matter-of-factly that anyone with my numbers survived deep family trauma very early in life (my parents' divorce when I was two?). But S. predicts good things for me starting this March, when my Saturn return--a painful three- to five-year astrological period of achieving full-fledged adult identity--will be finally officially over. It's about time. But what about my children? Sophie "will surprise me," and, like me, says S., is perfectionistic and overly critical of herself. Max, too, she says, suffers from self-esteem problems, and Lillie takes after her sister . . . and my goodness, "the energy! All three of them so energetic!"

Um, well, yeah, but I'm still worrying about what I've done to make them all so hard on themselves. "If I have this early life experience that has shaped me, and my main aspiration in life has been to spare my children from similar trauma and offer instead the closest thing I can conjure to a happy, sunny childhood, then what should I think about? What should I do? "It will just take hard work, doing what you're doing," says S. Hmmm, perhaps I'm more psychic than I thought.

JLR: Both Madames catch on to my insecurity, my lack of complete faith in my abilities, "talents," and intelligence. I think I come across as very confident, but I guess they see right through that. Madame S. was "in-tune to" a very negative relationship I had with a particular relative. That freaks me out a little. Will I have kids? They both say "later in life." Well, that's a given (I'm nearing thirty-four and they both know that).

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