Imagine looking into a crystal ball. Your life laid out for you between the murky clouds of white smoke. What do you think you will see? In 5 years? 10? Will you be happier? Sadder? Well adjusted to your own set of challenges? Flourishing as a career woman or thriving as a mother? Maybe even both?
As a preteen,
I was often drawn to books about palmistry. Convinced myself that if I read them, I would be proficient enough to predict and even control my future. I could expect problems before they happen, fix bumps in the road before I careened left. In fact, I was so enthralled by the allure of prophecy; it surprised me that more people weren’t doing it. After devouring one rather convincing palmistry tome, I declared myself ready. I grabbed every hand I could find, confident in my skill and ability to change futures. I told my uncle he was likely to have 2 wives; I reassured the maid she would have more children and I even tearfully informed my grandpa he had an alarmingly short amount of time left with us mortals. Amazed by this ‘power’ I held in my hands, I even spent melodramatic hours wondering if this was a gift or curse.
Well, most of what I predicted didn’t happen. My aunt sniffed at my uncle disapprovingly for a few months, the maid left us because she wanted to have her tubes tied and my mother spent many a stern evening, lecturing me to stop meddling. And
of course, my grandpa lived to the ripe old age of 98, passing away a mere 22 years after I predicted he would. When I got a few prophecies right, my mom got madder. One day, after she caught me eying my 4-year-old sister’s palm with interest, the decree was passed. I was forbidden from ever reading another hand. I didn’t understand why then. But I obeyed.
Over the years, I also pondered about tarot cards, astrology, tea leaves. Some days I’d give anything to see my future. Would that boy like me, would I do well on my tests, would India win the Titan Cup?
But then came the days where I’d enjoy not knowing. The sweet pain of unfulfilled love, the gnawing tingles of exam results, the sheer exhilaration of a cricket match that could go either way. I realized, how many exquisite moments I would miss if I didn’t make those journeys in their entirety.
Now as an adult, as a mother, as a parent of a Son with autism, I still have those moments where I’d sacrifice an arm and a leg to know what lays ahead for him. Will he grow up to be an independent young man? Advocate for himself? Fall in love? Maybe even hold down a job? Would he miss me when I’m gone? Some days, my fears are so delicately painful, I think about picking up the phone and calling the local tarot card lady. But I don’t. If I cower under the shadow of an unpredictable future, I stop living in the present don’t I? If I worry about my son’s graduation; I miss out on watching him get his first school award. If I obsess about whether he will ever live by himself, I forget to notice his bony arms hugging me hard.
You experience so much of life because you
chose to live each minute. Morning’s mishaps and afternoon’s milestones, the slow curve of your husband’s smile, the way your daughter giggles from her belly. That’s what you are ignoring, when you ask for the full picture.
No crystal ball can tell us if we will win the lottery in 5 years or get that promotion we deserve. Because my story.... and yours,
isn’t set in stone. In fact, our lives and the choices we make are so fluid, that anything is possible. We’re still creating today’s chapter, so how can we hope to read what comes a million pages later. That part, my sister, hasn’t even been conceived.
So grab your pen and get back to writing. Craft your own story. Fail, cry, fight, love. Mess up spectacularly. Reach upwards and break those glass ceilings. Deal with the thorniest shit life has to offer and live to be a fabulous 98 like my grandpa.
I carry a hundred sorrows today. That’s my present.
But I plan to leave with no regrets.