Magical Thinking

Magical Thinking

I went to see a medium. Two of them, in fact. My husband and I and seven hundred ninety-eight friends packed a high school auditorium for one of those I’ll-never-admit-how-much-I-paid-to-do-this events with two of the brand-name psychic mediums you might have seen on TV. I confess, it wasn’t my first time. Many years ago (ten?) we paid even more to see a different as-seen-on-TV psychic medium. We had fun that time, so we decided to do it again.

For us, it wasn’t about getting a reading (which we didn’t), but that obviously wasn’t true for much of the crowd. [Honesty Check: I wanted a reading. I always want a reading. I didn’t feel I needed a reading, and my husband didn’t want a reading. We cancel each other out energetically on this one.] There was a needy, desperate energy from some of the people seated near us. This wasn’t their first time either, and they argued about moving their seats in hopes of being picked. I was surprised we had found seats so close to the front, so I was content to sit and let the evening play out. I’ve lost a lot of people close to me (several within a very short number of years), but I wasn’t feeling desperate to hear from anyone. I was more curious to see how these two mediums conducted their readings with such a large crowd. Who would I leave as at the end of the show: the Skeptic or the Believer?

I know that the whole thing could be faked. The people being read could be planted in the audience or could be victims of cold-reading techniques. I know all the arguments. Still, I prefer to approach these things with and open mind and the hope that there’s really something to it. I’m more inclined toward believing (even when skeptical me is arguing vigorously against it), because I’ve had my own experiences, as have other family members. I’m biased toward belief, because I want to believe.

Prior to the first event we attended, I had asked my uncle to come through for me. Why him? Because he was a priest with one leg, he had died a long time ago, and he had a wicked sense of humor. If anyone could get through, I figured it would be him and that would be hard to dispute (or fake with a cold reading), so I talked to him on the way there and asked him to come through first thing, first reading, just bam, get it out of the way, a quick shout-out. The medium didn’t come to me, but to a family a few rows back and across the aisle. Toward the end of the reading, he mentioned a family with the same number of people as mine (along with a few other details that fit for me) and asked who was the one-legged priest. Coincidence? Maybe, but a damn strange one. Some people at that point might have been jumping up and down trying to get the reader to come to them and claim the reading for themselves. I didn’t. (I don’t remember now whether the audience was instructed beforehand not to do that. Could be, but in any case, I wouldn’t have unless I was sitting next to the person being given the information.) One other funny/strange thing happened at that event: I had worn my favorite shoes, and while we were in line waiting to be seated, the sole on the left shoe came off (it held on by a thread toward the heal). So, yes, while talking to my dead uncle, the priest known for his mischievous sense of humor, in line to see a medium, I lost my sole.

Nothing that interesting happened to me this time. The readings were okay, some people seemed very moved, and there were some strangely specific hits. From the chatter around us, I gathered that many of the attendees were regulars at these types of events. Are they being preyed on? taken advantage of? I don’t know. Maybe for some it works better than grief therapy and counseling. (Not that these things are mutually exclusive. Maybe it helps in conjunction with other therapies.) Maybe, like us, they just enjoy the show. (I don’t go to ballgames and concerts, but a lot of people drop big money on those things without anyone crying foul, except of course at the ballgames, but you know what I mean.) And maybe for some it is real, because they choose to believe it, and they leave feeling more connected to their loved ones and more open to interpreting their lives through that lens.

That’s why I had wanted to go this time. I felt I needed an infusion of belief to charge up my magical-thinking battery. I’ve been in a slump, feeling drained and alone. I want to believe I’m connected to something more. Honestly, it didn’t help as much as I had hoped it would. The Skeptic wanted proof, but couldn’t find it in that crowd. The Believer, though, knows the answers aren’t dependent on a medium, aren’t hidden from me, aren’t outside myself. I can meditate, do yoga, go for a walk, watch the cats play, talk to my granddaughter—I could keep going, it’s a long list. Ultimately, it’s my choice to accept the magic in the ordinary, to see the beauty and connection and wonder in the everyday things around me. So this time Skeptic and Believer left hand-in-hand, willing to keep looking for the magic.