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Fortune’s Favourite – a reflection on fate and fortune-tellers

I should be dead. At least according to the lines criss-crossing my palm… Okay, so I’m not a palmist, but when the lifeline starts shrinking that sort of makes you think “oops”. I discovered this disturbing new development by chance some hours ago, and have since then poured over my palms, turning them this way and that. If nothing else, it’s weird that a line should grow fainter despite advancing age, isn’t it? For some seconds there I considered that this might have something to do with a general rejuvenation, but a thorough inspection in the mirror has proved this to not be the case. Too bad. So, back to my hand …

I guess most of us have at some point or another given in to the childish urge to have our fortune told. In my early childhood, there was a lady who cracked eggs into a glass of water at midnight on New Year’s Eve and foretold glory or woe depending on how the yolk spread in the liquid. Mostly it was promises of  riches, handsome men and many healthy children.

In general, all fortune tellers I’ve ever met have been heavy on the upsides. Rarely does a fortune teller look at the tarot cards, look again, frown, look yet again and then tell you “you’ll be dead in a month.” Even assuming that such things could be gleaned from a pack of cards with archaic suits, the savvy fortune teller will keep mum – it doesn’t help business much to tell people the TRUTH. Heck, we don’t want to hear the truth, we want to hear the stuff about the riches and the handsome men and the healthy, happy children. Oh, and we want to know if we’ll win the lottery.

The truly skilled fortune teller will keep you on tenterhooks for a while. With a deep “hmm” the cards will be turned this way and that. Tarot cards give ample opportunity for bad guys and gals to wander in and out of your future life, so the fortune teller can add a twist of “realism” by suggesting you avoid “tall men with guitars” as they’ll make you unhappy, and that you should keep a beady eye on the “blonde at the office”.
“What blonde?” you say, racking your brain.
“You’ll know,” the fortune teller says, and as of that moment you are negatively predisposed to any blonde that enters your professional life. Interestingly enough you have no idea WHY you should keep a beady eye on her, but that doesn’t matter, the important thing is that you know this as yet unknown person is up to something.

If the fortune teller is reading your palm, he/she (mostly a she) will weigh your hand and raise an eyebrow. Generally, her warm hand will make you relax (Have you noticed how all fortune tellers reading hands have very warm hands themselves? A sign of psychic gifts? Of an overactive metabolism?). With a light finger she’ll trace the lines, telling you that this line shows your ambition, this one the length of your life.
“It looks very short,” I once said. (It has always been very short. It’s just that now it’s even shorter …)
“That’s relative,” the lady holding my hand said. “One can’t compare one person’s line with another’s.” No? Then why are some lines deemed short, while others are admired under “oohs” and “aahs” as promising longevity beyond normal?

I have often been told the most distinctive line on my hand is that designating ambition/willingness to work hard. This is the only part of the reading I’ve ever agreed with, as I have a tendency to aim for over-achievement. (Not that I believe the lady reading my fortune sees that in my hand , no, she draws those conclusions from the general state of my hands, ink-stained fingers, calluses here and there.) But you know what? If my life line has shrunk, the ambition line has all but disappeared – very strange, as I’m not aware of any major changes in my character. But hey, maybe I’ve developed an extreme laziness over the last few years without having noticed …

I’m not quite sure what attracts people to having their fortunes told – or reading their horoscopes, for that matter. It’s not as if I think there are all that many people around who truly believe the zodiac sign you were born under or the cards you pull from the deck have any real influence on our lives. And still most magazines/newspapers will have horoscopes, people DO go to fortune tellers and to psychics in an attempt to … what? Maybe it all boils down to the need to abdicate an element of responsibility for our lives – at least temporarily.
“It was fate,” we can say and sigh.
“It was never meant to be” – now how many have been told that when they’re crying their eyes out because the latest love of their life just walked out of the door? And did it help?

I always read my horoscope – mainly in the hope of trying to find out if this is the week I will buy the winning lottery ticket. Of course, whoever writes the horoscopes is clever enough never to promise anything, it’s all “for those of you hoping for romance, this week may bring just what you want” or “cash may become more abundant at the end of the week” on those weeks when Friday coincides with general pay day… But hey, I do keep an eye out for the “stranger” that might at some point in time ride into my life (in a car; not on a horse. In this day and age the prince drives Lamborghini, not a white steed), and let me tell you I have all the blondes in the office under constant supervision. As I myself am blonde, there are days when I worry I might be the blonde to beware of …

I revert to studying my hand. As per my disappearing lines I’m living on borrowed time, but strangely enough I feel very alive.
“Hogwash,” I snort, shoving my hand out of sight. But just in case I cross my fingers. After all, you never know – not for sure – and it never pays to irritate whatever gods that may inhabit our universe. Which is why I never walk under ladders, always spit thrice when a black cat crosses the street in front of me (very rare occurrence) and take care never to break a mirror… What? Me superstitious? No way! I’m just having a hand day, okay? A day in which the disappearing lines in my palm itch and burn, reminding me that no matter what life is short  – short and precious.

6 thoughts on “Fortune’s Favourite – a reflection on fate and fortune-tellers”

  1. I’ve been to a few fortune tellers with friends for the pure fun of it (if that’s possible!) There is a real art to it and they seem to be quite intuitive, picking up on your body language and facial expressions. I remember seeing a skeptic on the television once who was ‘reading’ people from the audience and he was so spot on it was scary – but he said it was all just parlor tricks (but I thought he must have been psychic and didn’t realise it!) ;)

  2. I relate with this post, especially about the horoscopes. Sometimes they irritate me or even make me laugh. One week my finances are solid and perfect, the next I face financial problems. I suppose I keep reading out of curiousity. Maybe I should check my own lines… :)

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