There are so many oracles and prophets these days, it’s hard to know where to turn to for insight, who to believe. The existential weather forecast on Radio Isolation is calling for silent skies, and ominous grey clouds veined with silver, accompanied by intermittent bursts of beauty and occasional hellfire, with 70% probability of unexpected transformations.
I have always been drawn to the idea of predicting the future. I went to a psychic once, many years ago, in Vancouver. Oddly, or maybe appropriately, she worked out of a tiny space in the back of an insurance agency. She had tarot cards and a lot of pashmina scarves strewn about. I don’t think she was very accurate with me but, to be fair, I used to be a really terrible believer. I kept expecting her to predict imminent fire damage or sewer back up. Fortunately, I’m a much more gullible person now, since my capacity for cynicism has been fried to a crisp by the overload of recent politics.
These days, I have been fantasizing about getting my fortune read again. In my overheated imagination, it would go something like this:
The old soothsayer’s shop is located in the shadows of the fairgrounds, between the rollercoaster and the bumper cars. I pull back the pungent fur pelt that is her entranceway, and step into an atmosphere of lamplight and the smoke of burning herbs. We negotiate terms; she asks me what I want to know, then she shakes the teacup filled with tiny rabbit bones and rolls them out upon the scarred wooden table. “Now, all is revealed to me! I can read the secrets of the universe as effortlessly as any obituary written upon a page, and I see exactly how the future shall unfold: it shall unfold unpredictably. There will be moments where everything is lost, and other moments so splendid and rich that a single one of them will be worth ten times all that you have suffered. There will be false hopes, ecstasy and betrayal. There will be luaus and parades, revelations, reckonings, recessions, and plagues. There shall be sour nights, bitter twists of fate, and sweet ripples in time. Most of all, there will be the necessity to cross my palm with silver, if you wish to leave this tent alive.” Stepping out of the tent onto the well-lit midway, with the scents of powdered sugar and approaching rain, feels like a blessing in itself.
But perhaps, after all, this predicting the future business is not what I thought it would be. Perhaps the most reasonable thing to do right now is to just get on with life to the best of one’s ability. There are many of us who are getting emotional eyestrain from trying to peer too far ahead.
Perhaps we should just focus on lending a hand to others, and finding and giving comfort however we can. Maybe, for now, we should go home, tend to our wounds, and rest up for the inevitable challenges to come. We’ve seen bad times and good times before. When it’s safe to do so, we can bring each other pots of rooibos tea and cups of cocoa. We can share canned peaches and sardines on toast. We can plant begonias in the window box and read ghost stories together by the light of the beeswax candles your grandmother once sent you. I bet—almost before we know it—we will have built the future, one hour at a time. And, just maybe, we will make it through this somehow.