In 2008 my mother and I were wandering about Sydney and came across a tarot reader. We did what any other rational person would do when they had time to spare and took turns having a full reading done. I wish I had recorded everything that lovely woman had said, but there were several things in particular that stayed with me.
I’ve been a cynic for too long not to acknowledge the fact that this woman was being paid to tell me something profound and sufficiently vague that it would apply to anyone who was open-minded enough to sit for a tarot reading in the middle of a weekday. But there was also a period of time in which I believed in magic and the beauty of the human spirit. Before I became a bitter and twisted cynic, I was an optimistic believer in passion and creativity. I’m trying to recover aspects of this person who, once upon a time, cried when reading the news and laughed when rain fell on her face. It is with this in mind that I reconsider the psychic’s words now.
“You will travel,” she smiled.
“Yes,” I laughed. “My boyfriend and I are planning two years of living overseas and travelling. Probably around 2011 and 2012.”
“No,” she shook her head. “You’ll go somewhere this year.”
“Oh, we’re not really planning anything … ”
“Perhaps not, but you’ll have been to another country before the year is through.”
I was in Edinburgh for Christmas that year. There were a few other things she said that were sufficiently accurate to give me goosebumps, and then she examined the cards and gave me enough to make me want to drown the inner cynic because I wanted (and still want) so much to believe what she said to me.
“The time is coming when you must choose between what you think you should do and what you need to do. You are creative. You will create something important, but you must make the choice. Everything else will fall into place once you have made your choice.”
“The choice between creativity and … teaching?”
“You’re an artist.”
“I like to – ”
“Not paint or music,” she shook her head as she looked closer at the cards. “Words. You are very good with words. This is what you must choose between: the life you think you want and the life your soul needs. That life is with words, books, writing.”
At this stage in the reading I was buzzing with excitement and hanging onto her every word. Now that I am reflecting on her words, I feel tears well up within me. This was a time of great change for me – though I had not yet reached that point of Change when I sat down for the reading. When I turned over the cards, I was wondering about the future I would have with my boyfriend, hoping she’d give me some advice about lotto tickets, and say something sufficiently encouraging about the fact that I was really not enjoying teaching as much as I thought I would.
A few weeks later my Aunt emailed to say I was welcome to visit them in Edinburgh. In September I booked a flight to London, in October I advised the principal at the school where I was teaching that I would not be renewing my contract for the following year, and later that month I broke up with my boyfriend. Hey, I don’t do things in halves.
Whether she was telling the truth or fabricating for the sake of a memorable experience, I want so much to believe her – even if it was over three years ago. I didn’t make the immediate decision to write. It took me a little while to work out that wanting to write and actually writing were two different things. But I need to believe that what I write is enough – not for anyone else, but enough for me. I need to feel like my continued pursuit of creativity is valid. I don’t need to create something important for the world – I need to create something important for me. I don’t need to be rich or famous or even published (though it would be nice). I simply need to know that the words I pull together are worth my energy. Writing simultaneously feeds and exhausts my soul. It’s an exhilerating feeling, but I need to accept what I write as being more than just words on a page.
I like to think about the things the psychic said to me and hope that she was giving me truths. I heard her words in my mind this evening as I wandered tiredly from the bus stop to my apartment, arms weighed down with groceries so that I can spend my days off writing without having to leave the house for food.
Now, as I write, I look out over the floating city I can see from my window. The ocean reflects the yellow and white lights that glow along the sides of the stationary ships that spend the night between Singapore and Indonesia. It’s a million-dollar view, or so I’m told, though I was most attracted by the size of the room and the location of the apartment (and the fact that my flat mates, when I asked about having guests, didn’t suggest that my guests would steal from them and therefore make things “awkward” between us – oh yes, house-hunting was fun … ).
As I look out at the lights floating on the water, I remember more of her words:
“Having a home is important to you,” she frowned as she turned a few cards and then looked up at me with a smile. “You must live near water in order to find your happiness and complete your work. Water, Stephanie. You must live near water.”