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.


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).

Madame T. says I'll have "a problem conceiving" but nothing serious (no drugs necessary). Madame S. sees only one or two kids, but I'll "have to want them."

Will I get married? Another, "yes." Madame S. says he'll be a soulmate (I wouldn't want it any other way); she reiterates that I'll have to want it. Madame T. says the same, but adds that I'll meet "Mr. It" within the next nine months to a year. Uh huh. But when we meet, it'll be immediate, passionate, and I'll "know." They both agree I'll have a happy, successful marriage. Bottom line: they say I need to "want" these things--kids, marriage, career, happiness, good health. Well, I should think I'd "want" them otherwise I won't make a point of trying to "get" them. Makes sense, no?

As I said, I saw Madame T. two years ago. At that time she told me that within the next year, I would be moving out of my apartment and preparing to get married. That was two years ago and I'm still living in the same apartment and no sight of marriage anywhere. So she seems . . . a little less believable.

JOH: Madame T. actually gets more specific than Madame S. on some points with me: Sophie's an energetic daredevil, but she's lucky, and will never come to harm from her risk-taking. As if I'd ever let that information allow me to turn my back for a minute. Then she says I'm going to have to watch Lillie closely when she gets older. Lillie? My angel-pie three-year-old who would never, ever leave my side if it could be managed, Lillie, who cries if she even thinks she's done wrong, Lillie? Lillie? I dismiss such slanderous speech! But Max--well, when Madame T. says he's an entrepreneur who will always own his business and make tons of cash, she's right on the money. I've been saying it myself for years. And when she says I, in fact, am due for a windfall in the coming year, I know she must be right. I just don't believe her that Lillie could ever think of getting into trouble. Even if it were true, would I want to know? I think I've decided not. I will love John, love my children, love our family and friends, and do my best to offer a childhood full of blue skies and sunshine. If thunderstorms come--as they have and will--I'll just keep loving in the rain, prepared or not.

JLR: So, did I hear what I wanted to hear? Yes and no, but I don't believe they told me anything that I don't already know. And the majority of things they said could have easily been applied to anyone.

Am I any more fulfilled, satisfied? Was I lost but now found? Nope. We want to believe because it's as close to "fact" as we can get. Someone is telling you what you "should do," what "will happen."

JOH: My mother- and father-in-law, Joann and Bob, just returned from a six-week trip around the world. One of their stops was India, and in that country, they had a guide who took them to some ancient sites where astrology is practiced. Joann says they have these instruments that were made hundreds of years ago, and they tell you, through using the exact day and minute of your birth, the things that will happen. She says there are people who study this, and she said, "Our guide really believed that it helps you in your life--that it kind of tells you about your up periods and down periods, and that maybe through knowing these things you will not make bad decisions during the down times, or even avoid major decisions at those times."

JLR: But what about the really bad stuff?

JOH: Joann said, "Anything bad they would not tell you to your face; they will write it down and mail it to you. Our guide knew he was going to die when you was seventy-six. And that didn't bother him, but of course, he was about forty. I wondered how he was going to feel when he was seventy-five."  

JLR:Did she have her own chart done?

JOH: No, She says she couldn't have had it done if she had wanted to, because she doesn't know the exact minute she was born.

JLR: Ultimately I believe God is the only one who knows what's going to happen in my life. This was done just for fun. Besides, I know better than that; I'm a good Catholic after all. I went to confession and did a few Our Fathers just to cover my bases.

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