Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day 270 - Getting a Psychic Reading

I have never received a psychic reading. Honestly, I never had any intention of receiving a psychic reading. As someone that generally relies on science and reason to understand the world around me, I have always been skeptical of the premise behind psychics. While I will be the first to agree there are some things in the world that cannot be explained, the idea of a person tapping into some unseen “energy” to read into a person’s past and predict their future has always been a modern form of snake oil salesperson in my mind. As far as I was concerned, people claiming to be psychics were doing nothing more than reading obvious signs presented by people to make obvious statements that would appeal to the individual they were reading. In essence, my opinion was psychics were observant people that were capitalizing on fear and uncertainty in people, and that didn’t sit well with me; let alone make what they do believable.

Despite my perspective on psychics in general, people consistently recommended I take on the experience as a part of my “I have never...” journey. Although I was reluctant to do so at first, I realized the idea of gaining an experience with something I have largely avoided for the first 30 years of my life would likely provide a memorable and insightful experience. As a result, I ultimately decided I would include the event as a part of my year of new experiences, and set to work trying to find a local source for a reading. After a little research and a fair share of interaction with less than reliable “psychics”, that process eventually led me to contact a woman named Rebecca, who owned a Madison business called Enchanted Intuitive Coaching. Although our first interaction was limited to a brief phone conversation, Rebecca’s personable nature and straightforward approach were apparent as she spoke. In turn, I promptly scheduled an appointment to get a 45-minute reading from Rebecca and prepared myself for an experience I knew would be unlike anything else I have done to date.

When I arrived at Rebecca’s office building for my appointment this evening, I promptly found my way to the Enchanted Intuitive Coaching suite and knocked lightly on the door. A moment later the door swung open to reveal a woman with bright red hair and a beaming smile. Expecting to encounter a woman in a flowing patterned skirt wearing beads and burning excessive amounts of incense, I was surprised at her normal, almost casual appearance. In black pants and a loose winter sweater, she wasn’t anything like the gypsy-esque, overzealous “mystic” I had envisioned any psychic would be. She could have worked in any office, school, or other place of business. By all accounts, she was a typical person, and that was a good sight to see.

One door between me
and my first psychic reading
A bit off guard by the disconnection between my expectations and the woman that greeted me, I hesitated momentarily before the open door. “Hi, I’m Rebecca,” the woman said smiling, “Please come on in.” Realizing I had failed to move since the door opened, I promptly stepped into the one-room office lined with a few sofas, tables, and chairs. “Hi, I’m Caleb,” I said picking up my place in the conversation. Rebecca stretched out her hand to meet mine and welcomed me, “Feel to take off your coat and get comfortable. Is there anything I can get you before we get started? Water or anything?” Her warmth and genuine nature made it easy to feel comfortable in the unfamiliar environment. “No, thank you. I’m fine,” I said as I took a seat on a couch against the back wall. Rebecca smiled and took a seat on the couch perpendicular to my location, “Ok, then let’s get started.”

Following a brief introduction to the general format of the reading, Rebecca began swinging a small pendulum between thumb and index finger as she closed her eyes and fell into silence. Although the sight was a bit peculiar to me, I looked on doing my best to remain stoic and quiet as to not give Rebecca any leads to start the reading. “So, what brings you here?” Rebecca asked, lifting her eyes to meet mine. I offered no hesitation in my response, but kept it simple as to avoid leading her. “Curiosity,” I stated tersely. Rebecca nodded her head in response, and closed her eyes once more. She remained that way for several moments before flashing her eyes in my direction once more. “Where do you work?” she asked suddenly. Holding my cards to my chest I gave a vague answer, “I work for a cell phone company. I supervise the fraud department,” I said devoid of emotion. Rebecca nodded her head and became pensive for a moment before beginning her reading.

At first, Rebecca led me into a story about an apparent past life she was seeing wherein I played a role in establishing cafĂ© culture in Vienna. “They keep taking me there, and showing me these things to draw attention to your entrepreneurial spirit,” she said, “They are telling me they wish you would use it more in this life.” While the statement was relevant, the concept was broad enough as to be able to apply to any person and the idea of a past life in Vienna seemed so impossible to disprove I immediately dismissed it as nonsense in my mind. Regardless, I continued listening with the same stone face anticipating what obvious remarks would come next. I was only minutes into my psychic reading and it appeared it was building into exactly what I expected it would be, but then Rebecca stunned me.

"Choose Joy"
“They are telling me about writing. There’s some photography too, but it’s mostly about writing. It’s not like a book or anything though. It’s like a blog. It’s an online thing, and it’s you writing about places you travel and the things you experience. Do you write?” Although I was reeling a bit inside, I quickly convinced myself she may have been able to find information by searching for my name on the Internet. As a result, I stayed emotionless and concise in my response. “Sometimes,” I said, “I mean, I’ll write when I have time.” Rebecca nodded her head and furrowed her brow. “They won’t leave it alone,” she continued, “I don’t know if you’re doing this now or if they want you to do it, but it’s like you’re traveling the world and writing about the places your go...” Sticking with my assumption she had looked up information on my “I have never...” year before our meeting, I stayed steady and kept my eyes focused on her face.

“They are showing you in India, Thailand, Africa... like on a safari, and in Portland, Oregon. It’s like you’re there writing about these authentic experiences,” Rebecca said. As four of the five locations I had looked into visiting but couldn’t fit into my “I have never...” year, the information caused my heart to quicken. My thoughts immediately went into a state of disbelief, “That isn’t on the blog,” I thought, remaining completely composed, “Nobody knows that.” Shaking off the call as coincidence I held my position on the couch and continued listening. Rebecca spent some time going into the high level details of each trip before circling back. “They just keep bringing me to, like, a blog, and telling me they want you to travel more... Like they want you to be a travel blogger of some sort,” she said, “but you aren’t working for anyone. It’s like your freelance and travel websites contact you for your work. They think you would be happier and more successful living that life.” Again, the information hit too close to home. With knowledge a travel website had contacted me last month to see if they could use my work and had remained in contact until as recently as two days ago, I couldn’t believe what Rebecca was saying. I hadn’t written about or even discussed the opportunity with anyone outside of Rachael. Rebecca’s accuracy was uncanny, but a part of me remained unconvinced.

Despite the surprising level of detail Rebecca was providing, I remained quiet and sober in my appearance. Following a few moments of silence Rebecca continued, “They just keep taking me places. I see you skiing, which is usually my symbol for some place mountainous... Denver or Boulder. They are taking me there, and there is something about Europe. It’s not southern France, but somewhere near the mountains.” With knowledge I was less than a month away from a trip to Denver and a few months out from a trip to northern Italy that I had not shared publicly, I swallowed hard. “Have you been these places or something? Rebecca asked a bit confused. I answer honestly but simply, “No, I haven’t.”

In response, Rebecca looked to the side of the room and proceeded almost immediately, “Now we’re back in Portland. They are telling me you would be happy in Portland. They say life in Madison is fine, and it always will be fine... But they are saying you should consider moving to Portland. There’s something about the place, the culture, and the land that surrounds it that they say would suit you.” The information was not something I had ever strongly considered, but the location was one that had called me for some time. Not waiting for any response from me, Rebecca pressed on. “What is it about this blog?” she asked the open air, “They won’t leave this thing alone. The travel thing is big. It’s like you are going these places and really experiencing them. It’s not like you go to the touristy spots, snap a photo, and leave. You are taking in the life and the land. You are going the places people don’t go.” As a part of the motto that has guided me through my year of new experiences the phrase “Go the places people don’t go” escaping Rebecca’s lips stunned me.

Before I had a chance to react she continued, “...But that’s not it. Travel is one thing, but there is cuisine too. You’re trying all these different and unusual foods from all over the world, but you’re not in the places where they are found. Culture... Something about culture and food.” Considering all the strange and taboo foods I have eaten in the past nine months, her commented immediately resonated with me. Still outwardly unmoved, I looked at her and remained silent.

The pendulum
Rebecca paused for a moment in thought. “There’s something about music too... They are showing you on stage performing in front of a group of people. I don’t know if you play music, but they are asking me why you stopped. Do you play guitar or something?” Rebecca said looking at me inquisitively. “I can, yeah,” I deadpanned. Rebecca immediately responded to my remark. “Well, they are saying you should be playing in front of people... in a band... if you aren’t already. They say you are talented enough, and they keep saying you stopped.” Recognizing that playing live music was the center of my life from my teenage years through my mid-twenties, the comment made sense to me and provided further indication there was something more than guessing happening. “Well, maybe she Googled that too,” I thought, “...but she doesn’t know anything but my first name. How could that work?”

I quickly stopped myself from thinking too deeply about Rebecca’s accuracy and refocused as she continued. “I don’t know what that’s about, but it keeps coming back... Writing, photography... like a travel blogger. That’s the basic message. They think you would happier and more successful in this life if you went out and worked as a travel blogger.” Before my mind could complete the thought of how I could make such a life possible Rebecca continued, “They are saying not to worry. They are saying there are ways to do it, and if you try you will be surprised at the life you can lead. That and Oregon... They want you to think about living in Oregon.”

With that remark Rebecca smiled and set down her small pendulum. “So, that’s about it. Anything you want to ask me about?” Still astonished, I did my best not to let off any emotion as I responded. “You kept saying ‘they.’ Who are ‘they?’” I asked curiously. Without hesitation Rebecca replied, “They are your guides, entities that try to influence you throughout your life. There are five of them, but two are the most talkative. Let me ask if they will provide their names.” Rebecca picked up her pendulum once more and swung it into momentum as she closed her eyes.

A few seconds later, Rebecca returned and spoke succinctly. “One of them is Rose, a mother from a past life... Vienna, perhaps. The other is a bit unique to give you a little fair warning,” she said. I cocked my head slightly at the remark. “The other guide is Michael, the archangel.” My eyes snapped wide at the name that rolled from Rebecca’s tongue. “That’s a bit intimidating,” I said shifting in my seat. Rebecca smiled and sought some clarity from my response. “Why is that?” she said with a hint of concern. In response, I raised my eyebrows and explained my perspective. “It’s Michael!” I said chuckling, “I mean, like, leader of God’s army, banisher of Satan, sword of fire Michael. If you believe that stuff, that’s pretty intimidating.” Reacting to my remark, Rebecca softened her appearance and smiled. “No, it doesn’t have to be. He is drawn to your drive and your adventurous spirit. It’s what has led him to guide you.” Curious, I asked Rebecca one more question, “...And how common is that?” Rebecca didn’t hesitate in her response. “Not very, but he will play a more active role from time to time.”

Thinking about Rebecca’s remarks, I turned my face toward the floor and remained silent for a moment. Eventually realizing Rebecca had also fallen quiet, I looked up to her and spoke, “So, are we done then?” Rebecca confirmed that was the case before asking me if I had any final questions. After indicating I did not, I turned my attention to a sudden desire to tell Rebecca about my real reason for coming to the reading. In turn, I explained my “I have never...” journey, revealed my writing and photography efforts, and laid out each of the unpublished and unknown points she had hit on in her reading.

Listening intently, Rebecca showed no signs of surprise at my story, stating frankly, “That makes sense” when I reached a point of conclusion. The admission caused Rebecca to ask more about my experiences and my future plans once the year is over, which opened up the door to fruitful conversation that occupied the better part of the next hour. With period callbacks to parts of Rebecca’s reading, we discussed the concept of seeking the unknown that tied our unique and distinct pursuits together. Although the idea of such a common bond was the last thing I expected to find in today’s experience, it somehow made my first psychic reading seem justified. I still didn’t know whether to believe my reading was real or the result of preplanning and coincidence, but I was happy I gained the experience.

After leaving Rebecca’s office and heading home, my mind spun with the accuracy of the information that came through in the reading. Upon arriving home I immediately picked up my laptop and sat down to see what information Rebecca could have found before our meeting. “She had my first and last name and knew I lived in the Madison area. That’s it,” I said as I sat down on the couch next to Rachael. A bit confused by my remark, Rachael watched as I rifled off searches on Google. I poured over every combination of my name, location, and words related with travel and blog, which produced no results in the first ten pages of each entry.

“This woman was so accurate she had to know something, but it’s not possible. She didn’t have my middle name. I write with my first and middle name...” I said, realizing my pen name removes the possibility of my last name offering any background on my pursuits. My state of disbelief drew Rachael into a series of questions about tonight’s experience, which caused me to walk through the experience with her from beginning to end. After detailing the experience, my recollection of the reading’s veracity and the mention of specifics that no search engine could have revealed caused me to pause and look at Rachael. In that moment I said the first thing that came to my mind, “I don’t think I can explain everything that happened tonight, and I know I’m still skeptical... but I think I received some advice tonight that I should probably look into.”

Saying the statement out loud made me realize the truth in the message. If anything from tonight can be believed, and there is a real opportunity to make this pursuit of exploration and self-discovery into something greater, I know I should probably pursue it. I’ve learned a lot about the world and about myself in the past 270 days, and I’ve come to find that this experience has helped me open my eyes for the first time. In that, I have found further happiness, greater courage, and what I think it means to truly live. I’ve discovered who I can be, and I’ve unlocked the potential to find out everything this world has to offer. If that’s my calling and Rebecca is right in saying that I can make a living doing it, why not go for it? Why not make this life, and all the good that comes with it, my way of life? 


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