If you’ve ever visited Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota, you’ve seen him: The Oracle. A rock formation that, for all the world, looks like the profile of a wise tribal elder. I have a postcard I’ve saved for years showing a photo of The Oracle, part of a collection of items and tokens representing places I’ve visited where humans have discovered some special “power” – predictions for the future, healing miracles, spiritual knowledge which arrives via interaction with the place. I have always felt the pull of these magical sites, and I am not above finding some belief or power in these places myself.
In my late 20s, I visited an astrologer who drew my natal chart for me. In my 30s, I visited a well-known psychic, who told me, among other things, that no one understands exactly how much I love the odd and unusual. In my 40s, I had a very powerful experience during a massage with a spiritual healer. For the most part, I engaged in these interactions out of curiosity and a sense of play. However, part of me would have been quite happy to receive a little advance glimpse of things to come — if only one of them had been able to chart at least a small part of the future for me!
Most of my life, I’ve tried to predict the future in small ways — if I do this, what will happen? if I put myself out there, will I get the result I want? if I try, will I succeed? As a result I have often opted for the safe path, the path I can predict. Since predicting the future can only be done with success for the very near future (say, the next ten minutes) my vision has been pretty short. And my choices have been painfully short-sighted. I have failed to try many things out of fear about the outcome.
I copied a quote years ago from a book called Ecodynamics, which was way above my head, but which contained this scary thought (scary to me, anyway): “We may have ten possible images of tomorrow and for each one of these there may be ten images of the next day, giving a hundred possible images of the day after that, and so on, which means that the uncertainty of the future increases rapidly as we move our imagination into it.”
Coming across this quote again recently, I realized that I’m not so frightened by it now. The truth is, I am in love with today, which makes the future a much less scary proposition. Do I still dream and fantasize? Sure! But I am learning that entering fully into each day means that I expend less energy worrying about what might happen tomorrow. What will happen will happen — I may fail, I may succeed. Either will lead to the next experience. No need to consult an Oracle, or bless myself with the holy mud I carried away from El Santuario de Chimayo.
This new approach is proving to be both challenging and exhilarating when applied to my relationships. So often, I have tried to take relationships to specific places — sometimes having whole conversations with others inside my own head as if I know before an interaction how it will go. Imagining that I can create an “if this, then that” equation in my dealings with other people. Letting go of definitions, of predictions, and of specific outcomes can be scary because it makes you aware of what has always been true: you have no control over what other people feel or how they respond. Thinking you can control others is just another form of magical thinking.
The country group, Lady Antebellum has a new song (which I heard on Pandora this afternoon) called “Ready to Love Again”, and the chorus speaks to this lack of attachment to a particular outcome. It says: “Yeah, I’m ready to feel now, no longer afraid of the fall down. It must be time to move on now, without the fear of how it might end…” The future holds lots of endings, and equally as many beginnings. My current plan is to follow today where it leads, and fall in love with tomorrow when it comes.