Do you want to know the future?


It has been awhile since I've mused on Monday. Stéphane is in Turkey, Sara returned to New York last Tuesday and our friends departed on Saturday. Our apartment is eerily empty, except for me. I'm left to ponder a brief encounter that I had with an elderly woman under the arcades at the Place des Vosges this afternoon.

Using the wall to steady my arm as I prepared to take a photo of a man in a heavy winter coat, I remember thinking that his solitary figure would make an interesting silhouette, a pleasing contrast to the long afternoon shadows of the columns. Suddenly, there were two people in the viewfinder, a man and a woman. Disappointed that the composition had changed and that the man had moved to the left of center, I nonetheless snapped a quick picture. As if sensing my dismay at her untimely appearance, the wizened old woman pulled her cloak protectively about her and veered to the outside of the columns allowing me to get a clear shot. When I smiled in appreciation, she fixed her hooded gaze on my eyes, like a hawk. Appraising me, she asked if I wanted to know the future. Not "my" future but "the" future. I felt a shiver run down my spine. Humans aren't supposed to know the future. After I thanked her and replied in the negative, she responded, "It's not expensive."

Shaking my head, I walked a couple of steps before turning around. She was gone. I was hit by a pang of regret. Had I made a mistake? Perhaps she did know "the" future. Ruminating on the woman's chance appearance, as if out of nowhere, I considered her question as I took a photo of a young couple relaxing on the grass and another of a small child playing in the sandbox. Do I want to know how much longer Stéphane and I will stay in Paris, or where we'll go next? If the soothsayer told me that my days of sipping wine at my favorite café are numbered, would I change anything? Are there still places that I want to visit and things that I want to do?

And, what did she mean by "It's not expensive."? Think of how much money some people would pay to know the future. It's all relative. I'm fairly sure that Mitt Romney would have shelled out some serious cash to learn the results of the 2012 Presidential Election beforehand, if for no other reason than that it would have probably saved him money in the long run. What's expensive to me is merely chicken feed to someone with a hefty fortune.

How much would I pay to know "the" future I wondered as I made my way towards Notre Dame. Nothing, I decided. I'm too immersed in the present.


Comments

  1. Really nice post MK. I agree - sometimes with the way the world is with looking at the past all the time, even the immediate past, on social media, and then thinking about what's to come and how we might document it, it's very difficult to remain in the present.

    Although I think even if Mitt Romney knew the future, he'd still waste all that money just in case.

    Enjoy your time alone - sometimes being alone is the only way to be in the present! xx

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    1. Your comment about Mitt Romney gave me some food for thought - I suppose that even if someone told us bad news about our future, we would still hope for the best outcome.

      At the moment, I'm reveling in the luxury of being alone. As you said, sometimes it's the only way to be in the present.

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  2. Too bad, I honestly think you may have had a golden opportunity there. Living in the present would have meant taking her up on the offer--no telling where the story would lead.

    That being said, I recognize the urge to just say no, to move on. I would probably have done the same.

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    1. That's what I was scared of, Joseph, not knowing where her story would lead. It was an unsettling experience. We looked at each other, walked on and then she turned around and asked her question almost as an afterthought. I'm probably reading far more into it than there was (I have an active imagination!), but it felt as if she had something to say. Now I'll never know what that something was.

      I know quite a few people who swear that their fortunes (both good and bad) as told by a soothsayer turned out to be true - fortune or self-fulfilling prophecy. Who knows?

      When I tweeted about it, Sylvia said that the woman probably put a hex on my house. Let's hope not!

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    2. You? Active imagination? Really? I never would have guessed that.

      And Sylvia, always the voice of reason, right?

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    3. Oh please MK...don't believe everything! LOL I think your beliefs have more power than anything else anyone might tell you.

      I'm sure that your house is perfectly fine as you are.
      Great story though.

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    4. I don't seriously think that the woman put a hex on my house (or did she? ;) ). She seemed like a benevolent type of fortune teller - not at all like the wicked Queen who dressed up like a fortune teller in Snow White (if I'm not confusing my Disney movies!)

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  3. The present is not what I would have imagined it to be when I was younger. It would have been frightening to know that one day I would be divorced, for example, even though I am happier today than I was then. I would never have thought I would want to live anywhere outside Paris, yet that is what I am about to do! I think that we change so much over the years that knowing the future would hamper our freedom. I love the idea of change and chance encounters and just going with the flow.

    When I used to travel on my own, I just followed whoever knew the bus timetable, without worrying about the direction. I'd love to do it again now!

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    1. Let's hop on a train and go somewhere, Rosemary ... as long as we're back in Paris by dinner time! ;) But seriously, let me know if you ever feel like doing a spur of the moment day trip. I'm usually up for that sort of thing. It reminds me of how my brother and I changed our direction based on a comment or a whim when we first backpacked around Europe.

      You're right that it's best not to know what lies ahead - when we're confronted with the reality of a situation, whether it be a divorce or the death of a loved one, we somehow manage to find the strength to cope.

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  4. I am not sure if anyone can tell a future that has nt happened yet . That would mean things are al ready set so no point trying to change anything. That is scary!

    I agree that I would not want to know what is going to happen to me

    Enjoy your solitude

    Love Denise



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    1. Thanks, Denise. While enjoying my solitude, I've thought of the posts you've written about how you relish spending time on your own in Paris. It's a good city to be alone. Oddly enough, I never feel lonely here - not even when I'm surrounded by amorous couples like I was yesterday.

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  5. I've had readings from Tarot cards, my palms, tea leaves and jewelry.....Only once was the future told with accuracy.
    Almost a year later when I least expected it, several of the the predictions came true. At the time I was "read" the details seemed highly unlikely, although not worrisome. Since those events, I have stopped doing any of the above for fear that the next reading would be something to worry about.

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    1. I've never heard of a fortune being told with jewelry. You'll have to tell me more about it when you're here in April. I'm also curious about what was predicted for you and what came true. My sister-in-law had her fortune told years ago in New Orleans and swears that the fortune teller accurately predicted that she would marry my brother, whom she didn't meet until years afterwards.

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  6. I loved this post. And your ultimate conclusion. Wonderful that you are immersed in the present - that is the way it should be!

    Milsters

    (http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)

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    1. Thanks! It's not always being immersed in the present but I try.

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  7. I think you were smart to walk away. Trust your intuition!

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    1. That's what I usually tell myself. Or, as my mother said, "Trust your gut". Whenever something feels strange, I always get a tingly feeling in my stomach thanks to her!

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  8. Wow, MK, your photography has grown by leaps and bounds. Your photos were good before, but now they are really great. Kudos to you!

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    1. I agree, Sylvia. She really needs to think about making some money with her photography skills!

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    2. Thanks, Sylvia and Nancy. Maybe that's what the fortune teller wanted to tell me - how to earn money taking photos! ;)

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  9. Great post. Thank you. And I agree - Always answer present!

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    1. That's my motto - Always answer present, even if you're not!

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