Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Psychic Occurrences

Lately I feel like I’m developing psychic powers. I don’t mean like I can see into the future and predict events in history. I can’t read minds and I can’t communicate with the dead. Noted TV psychic Sylvia Brown shouldn’t be sweating that Montel is going to send her packing anytime soon. That would be just silly, because everyone knows that it’s not just Wednesday, it’s Sylvia Brown Wednesday.

Instead, I think about things and they happen to me. Maybe not right away, but soon thereafter. For instance, a few days ago I had a song running through my head (Arthur Conley’s 1967 classic “Sweet Soul Music” to be exact). Later that day I got in my car and there it was, playing on the radio!

Similarly, last Wednesday I was thinking about a particularly amusing episode of Seinfeld where Jerry swears off the kiss hello (perhaps brought about because I’ve been having my own issues with the kiss hello, but that’s best explored in a separate entry). Sure enough, that very episode ran that very night. Freaky, huh?

My new powers extend beyond mass media and I often get a feeling that I’m going to meet people I haven’t seen in a while. Last week I was in Union Square and I passed the Burberry store, where my friend Jimmy works as manager. I thought to myself, “I’ll bet I see Jimmy today” and not an hour later I run into Jimmy on Powell St.

A week earlier I was thinking of my friend Tony who lives in Hawaii and visits San Francisco about every five months or so. I haven’t seen him since last September and I was wondering when he’d be back. He never tells me when he’s coming in; he just blows into town unannounced. Two days later, there he is, popping up at the bar as I was working, which led to a very enjoyable next couple of days.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But these things happen to me a lot. I’m not sure you could call these events premonitions, which are usually a forewarning of bad things to come, like in Heroes when Hiro sees the coming nuclear destruction of New York City.

Instead, they’re all rather pleasant, hearing songs I hear in my head or running into friends I haven’t seen in a while. My latest strange but not unusual occurrences had me thinking that it wouldn’t be all that great to be able to predict the future. It might be cool to know that I will one day own that Mini Cooper or when I can start putting a together the snazzy outfit that I’ll wear when I accept my Nobel Prize in literature. Come to think of it, it might be nice to know now if Sanjaya actually wins American Idol before I invest any more time and emotion.

But there are some things I just would not want to know in advance. There’s a big difference between waking up and thinking “I’ll bet I see the X Files episode where Mulder and Scully are stranded in an Artic outpost with an alien virus” and “Oh, that’s right, today’s the day I get struck by lightning and die”. That’s way too much information. Similarly, I wouldn’t want to know about any hardships, diseases, financial setbacks or painful injuries until when (or perhaps, more optimistically, if) they happen.

And if you can see your own destiny, doesn’t it stand to reason that you can also foresee the destinies of others? I’m not sure that would such a good thing either. On the one hand, anticipating the death of a loved one might make their inevitable passing easier to bear since you’d have years to prepare for it.

On the other, I’m guessing the temptation would be to warn people about their upcoming demise so they could possibly avoid their fates. Could you say, “Dad, you should really stop smoking because on June 1, 2015 you’re going to die of lung cancer” or tell a friend that he may not want to drive anytime soon? Of course not, because that not only flirts with altering the future but in a broader, more philosophical context, it's kind of like playing God, two things that have a knack of coming back to bite you in the ass.

No, I like being ignorant (insert wisecrack here) of my future. I like living my life in the type of serenity of someone who is willing to accept the inevitable…as long as I don’t know when it’s coming. Ignorance, as they say, truly is bliss.

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