I’m often asked what it’s like to be a writer — how I spend my days, how I experience the world. And so I will be sharing occasional essays from the front lines of my writing life. In this essay, I share my experience with an unhappy psychic and fears of a dead dog.
A few weeks ago I shared a personal problem with my advisory board: the loose grouping of friends and colleagues whose opinions I trust and sometimes even listen to. Their words were wise but I was still undecided, and so I decided to see an intuitive who lived on the outskirts of town.
A friend’s daughter had consulted the woman (I’ll call her Cassandra), and Cassandra’s reading was spot-on. Cassandra identified the daughter’s medical issue and suggested a course of action, which turned out to be a good one.
My issue was relatively minor and likely would have resolved itself had I been more patient. The problem with problems, however, is that they linger. They are like houseguests who trash the place, promise to leave but do so only when there’s nothing left to munch on.
Now, for those of you who have never consulted an intuitive, be forewarned: sitting across from one is unnerving. You realize suddenly that you are paying a stranger $60 to nose around in your life for 30 minutes and that within milliseconds she’ll know you cheated on your 4th grade math quiz and are wearing holey underwear. You’ll get this sinking feeling that she’ll make horrid pronouncements, like your dog is going to die, which will freak you out even though you don’t have a dog.
Cassandra the intuitive didn’t smile as I stepped into her office. She sat on one side of her huge desk, I sat on the other, feeling like a job applicant. She closed her eyes and told me she was going to do a quick scan of my body to see what was what. Oh no! She was going to see my underwear.
When she opened her eyes, she looked at me accusingly. “You’re giving me a headache,” she said.
This threw me. I know I can be a pain in the ass, but a pain in the head?
“I feel like I’m getting a migraine.” She pointed to her forehead and winced. “Right here.”
I wondered if I should apologize.
She shook her head. “You think too much. It’s like you live in your head. You need to let go, not think. Do you meditate? Go for walks? Do yoga? Anything?”
“I walk a lot. Meditate some.” Exaggerations, of course, which she likely knew.
She rubbed her forehead. “You need to balance yourself out, right away.”
Right away? What if I couldn’t? Would the dog I didn’t have die?!
“You’ve got some things to resolve, and come December they’ll have worked themselves out,” she said. “But in the meantime, you’ve got to balance yourself. Living in your head isn’t healthy.”
Which I already knew, have always known. But I’m a writer. Writers live in their heads. Where else could they possibly live? It’s in the mind that ideas fall in love and marry; where sensations and memories reside. Where the heartbeat of life is heard most clearly. Not that I told her any of this; she was still rubbing her head. Poor woman.
The next morning, I shared my experience with a friend. She laughed. “Living in your head? Well, she sure got you right.” I agreed.
Since then, I’ve guilt-tripped myself into going for more walks, and I’ve begun to meditate more regularly. I’ve also been working, with various degrees of success, to slow the speed at which my ideas race. Chasing them is exhausting. The very thought gives me a headache. (Happy, Cassandra?)
Perhaps the balance of which she spoke is a matter of choice: choosing the ideas I will follow and those I will let fade. I suppose I will know come December, when, according to Cassandra, my issues will be resolved. In the meantime, I will pray my dog won’t die.