palm ponderings

January 15, 2008

I guess I was asking for it: he said he knew I was going to be there that day, knew he would run into me at the WalMart. So I smiled and said, “Prove it!” That’s when he told me he was a shaman, and that he “knew things about people” . . . he could read my palm if I’d let him.
Why not, I figured—now was as good a time as any. Work would always be there, piles of papers and files would always be waiting on my desk. So long as there was no current “emergency” call, I could give him a couple of minutes to hone his shamanic skills. Settling into my chair, I held out my hand and waited.
He began by telling me what he knew about my past—I assume that the resident grapevine had done its job, so I wasn’t particularly surprised that he correctly spoke of childhood trauma, of death in the family. And then he began to tell of the future. Being a very transparent sort of gentlemen, I knew he sincerely believed what he said when I told me that he saw some things that he didn’t want to tell me about what he saw in my life. I replied that I didn’t mind if he told me, as I’d rather know than wonder.
So he told me that in 10 to 20 years time, I was going to be diagnosed with a serious illness. He said I was going to fight it, but that I may not survive. This is not a particularly shocking revelation, as people get sick all the time—things like cancer hit all the time and, sure, you never know how much time you have left in this life. But it got me thinking about how I am spending the days allotted to me. I am no longer so young as to assume a sort of immortality mindset. But I have also lost the cavalier devil-may-care mindset I remember as a teenager and into my early twenties. Mine was not like the stereotypical youthful fearlessness; mine was almost an apathetic approach. A melancholy nature made me loosely attached to my life, in a way that also lent itself towards some irresponsibility. I no longer have the luxury of assuming that my life will take care of itself, as adulthood has forced an independence on me that, frankly, I am immensely grateful for; it is a life-giving, rewarding feeling to know that I can life a self-sufficient and productive life. But it also makes me more vividly aware of the passage of time and, more specifically, of the ways in which the years go by more and more rapidly, heedless of my old ideals of who I was going to be, of what I would do, with my “adult” life.
Here I am, well into a grown-up life, wondering what I have to show for it. Am I living a life that makes the most of the gifts God has given me? Am I wasting time, or is each day purposeful, intentional?
Would that I could live mindfully, never allowing trivialities to steal precious moments from the stuff of real significance.

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