“Prod! Prod! Like this!”
A salesgirl was jabbing my left arm, as she stood before me in the middle of Marks and Spencer. She persisted in a very intense manner.
“Prod! See? Prod!”
I took a step back, slowly, to avoid being the target of her torpedo-like pointy finger, while trying not to appear unappreciative of her attempt to communicate with such deliberate intention.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand…”
“PROD! PROD-juice! Get it? PROD-juice!”
Direct hit. Another jab delivered as she stepped towards me, as if coming closer and pushing harder would clarify our communication. We spoke the same language, yet I had no idea what this woman was trying to say.
“PROD-juice!” she repeated, this time with greater amplitude.
“Prod-juice? OH! PRO-duce! You’re saying, PRO-duce!” I said, relieved, and proud of my sudden epiphany.
“Pro-duce?” the woman asked, looking puzzled.
Our conversation continued like this for a few more moments, until we finally negotiated a mutual understanding. I had simply asked where to find a head of red cabbage. My hostess for the holiday had asked me to pick one up for Christmas dinner.
Now the determined salesgirl marched down one aisle and over three, looking back over her shoulder to make sure I was following her to the produce section. The store was filled with last-minute shoppers on this Christmas Eve. Fathers searched for last-minute gifts that would probably garner as much appreciation as those grabbed up in airport gift shops as afterthoughts. Mothers stood in the checkout lines, their trolleys (baskets) filled with cranky children, nappies (diapers) and poinsettias, reduced to half-price.
I had arrived in England only a few days before, allowing time for my traditional stay with my friends in Winchester, before taking the train into London. This was a wonderful routine, developed over almost ten years of trips to this country to give presentations and meet with clients. This time I had arrived in London to make it my home.
CHAPTER ONE: THE FANTASY OF THE FUTURE
“You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
It is not unusual to envision a future in which you are playing the perfect part in a script that is written and directed by yourself. A cast of characters adores you and reflects back your most prized attributes. A perfect partner might reside there. Your children have matured and are finding their way. And some form of a metaphorical ship sails in, bearing abundance, creative inspiration, spiritual enlightenment and unlimited fulfillment. No matter what is occurring in the present, no matter what has challenged you in the past, that future remains an idyllic constant that will compensate or reward you for all that has come before.
An unexpected event can change your world. It can fortify the illusion of your future as a “fantasy island” to where you escape when unfathomable events or extraordinary disappointments make present reality intolerable.
Advertisers and scriptwriters promote a lifestyle that extols conspicuous consumption, feeding an insatiable standard. Our fantasies are often fueled by these images, which we carry around in our cache of thoughts. The message we learn is that you will never have all that you need. Everything is always out of reach.
Over time, a society so influenced by beliefs in limitation and lack will perpetuate a sort of group mind. This “consensus reality” has the effect of disconnecting you from present and vital truths that bear marvelous gifts.
Consensus reality positions you to romp in this playground of illusion until life jars you awake by loss, tragedy or misfortune. Then you start to ask important questions, sometimes from a sense of deep despair or disillusionment. This is a good thing. It indicates a disengagement from the illusion. It represents a break from playing at life in a sandbox of duality: good guys/bad guys, he said/she said, judging events and people in terms of black and white absolutes.
When you are always looking to the future, you have your back to the door through which serendipitous cues and subtle messages flow. You miss this Divine communication that is intended to lead you toward a happier, more fulfilling life.
The more you become aware of this influence, the more you will be able to integrate your life’s desires into a healthier, attainable reality. The effect is extremely empowering. Through the years I have consistently counseled clients to release their expectations regarding future partners. For example, I caution the client who laments that past lovers never sent roses. Her expectations of a rose-bearing partner in the future might cause her to dismiss the divinely designated one: the one due to arrive with a bouquet of daisies.
A perfect “ten” in another client’s dreams might appear, sporting the perfect body, but with few gifts that will serve either of them well in relationship or soul growth. On the other hand, such a meeting can serve as a valuable awakening to the lack of fulfillment that results when our hearts’ desires are determined by the ego-self. Such experiences usually provide abundant grist for the soul’s mill. There is no judgment as to how long it takes to awaken to soul-evolving insights.
On the other hand, there are those whose paths steer them away from the restricting influence of consensus reality. Approval from others does not rule them and they are propelled by their own passion into unique endeavors and even eccentric lifestyles. These people live with a greater degree of freedom than the rest of us.
Personally, my life was primed to be shaped by consensus reality. I grew up near Pasadena, California, not far from Hollywood and a short distance from Disneyland. I loved the special dates when boyfriends were old enough to drive me to Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. We would drive alongside the “fast” crowd on Sunset Boulevard, watching the parade of customized hotrods.
I read movie magazines, swooned over Troy Donahue and truly believed that the life of Mouseketeer Annette Funicello had to be blessed. My heart fluttered over the twin brothers on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. I ached for a reply to the fan letter I sent them. Having a twin brother of my own, I was convinced that our mutual state of “twindom” would join us in a fabulous future. I addressed my letter to the collective twins. I would have taken either one.
That experience symbolized the embracing of a false belief: Whatever I truly desire in life will never be mine. I never realized that what appears to be out of reach is rarely good for me. It is just so much illusion, and illusion masks all that is for my highest good. That which is destined to serve me well is often right under my nose. That which the Universe dispatches to my doorstep will always look different from my expectations.
For many years I traveled my path, distracted and alienated by so many of my own illusions. For example, after my divorce I fantasized that I would achieve true happiness in life if only I could take a cruise around the world. Subsequently, over the years I have been invited to speak on several cruise ships. While I appreciate the opportunity to travel to interesting places, enjoy a delightful change of scenery, make presentations to new audiences and meet new clients, I personally would not choose a cruise for my own leisure adventure. I find that cruise ships comprise big floating hotels with too much food. My dream dissolved when it became reality. The result was less frustration about all that my life did not contain and a reprioritizing of future desires.
An earth-shaking, life-changing realization came to me in the middle of the night, two days before the earth did actually tremble on September 11th, 2001. The wake-up call was presumably staged to jar me from one of my greatest illusions. In retrospect, I see that the message was delivered in a way that would give me an unmistakable assurance that some personal choices to be made after 9/11 had not been influenced by fear. Fear-based decisions are usually the really dumb ones that take us nowhere, and can even result in devastating outcomes. They are derived neither from clear thinking nor divinely inspired guidance.
As clearly as I might have heard someone speaking next to me on my bed, I was awakened that night by “The Voice” announcing, “It’s JOHN!” Never having doubted my two-way communication with the Source, I sat up in bed, thinking through my revolving prayer list. Surely this was not, at long last, the reply to my ongoing bedtime prayer, “Who is my future partner?” Reflexively, I thought to myself, “Maybe if I just go back to sleep, my future partner won’t be John.” In the four years that I had known John, visions of a Pierce Brosnan-like future partner continued to dissuade me from John’s very real and caring overtures. Past illusion programming continued to mislead and frustrate me.
My own life was changed forever two days later when I witnessed the September 11th disaster from my rooftop. As the Towers came down, so did many of my personal illusions. Watching the surreal spectacle shattered my fantasies and plunged me into stark reality. My past presented itself for revision; the present revealed amazing insights and a new future began to unfold within a day of the horrific experience.
On September 12th John called from Australia to express his love and concern for me. He was worried about my continuing to live in New York and invited me to “regroup” at his birthplace in London. John’s mother had recently passed away, leaving him the house. All this occurred shortly after the death of John’s wife.
Considering the ongoing emphasis with which I caution clients about obsessive soul mate hunts, I shudder to think of them knowing the extent of my own misguided illusions regarding my own future partner. Then again, it is well accepted among students of metaphysics that we do, indeed, “teach what we ourselves need to learn.” It took a monumental catastrophe to awaken me from these fantasies.
I had received my very distinct and direct message from the cosmos. Its implication, however, felt far from heavenly. I tried to open up to the love that John was extending, but being on the receiving end felt quite unfamiliar and extremely uncomfortable. I nearly backed out of his kind invitation in more than one fearful moment, confused and overcome with self-doubt. Still, I surrendered to the Source, calling out, “Show me what I need to know about this, gently this time!” Every time I did, one more door would open and further reveal the path that led to my marriage to John.
To surrender to John’s love was to take me out of a very safe zone. No longer could I could control a future, illusionary partner, one that I could draw any way that tickled my fancy: handsome, clever, mind-reading, humorous, wealthy, charismatic, brilliant and wise. I liked to imagine a relationship with plenty of time for wonderfully stimulating conversations—all of which of course would confirm my own particular point of view on any topic.
But, I had also asked for a partner who would love to cook and to nurture me, leaving me inspired and free to write profundities. I asked for a man who would be supportive of my work, yet not be New-Age goofy. John presented those last two qualifications, most definitely. Other qualities continue to emerge over time, in their own unique, and sometimes challenging, variations.
When lingering illusions cloud the present, I repeat my request: that I be shown what is real and true. Invariably, I then see John or an annoying situation through a new lens. Sometimes John himself surprises me with a loving gesture that demonstrates a great teaching to me.
Our relationship is a work in progress. Cultural and background differences pose a constant challenge and require a patient and accepting attitude. Regardless of where this path leads us, I am committed to a future that I cannot control. My future certainly “ain’t what it used to be!” It has become far greater and more imaginative than I could ever have designed. I married and lived in London. Who knew?
Currently, John and I are separated by “the big pond.” It became necessary for me to return to the U.S. to be more active in my work. I will forever be grateful for the loving oasis that John created for me in his unique and caring way. As we both continue to surrender to a bigger plan, I am mindful of one of my own favorite sayings, “You never know what’s for what!”
Surrender to the unknowable. Resist the temptation to control the future. When you receive “sneak previews” from intuitives in consultations or from your own “hits,” avoid imposing your own egocentric interpretations.
A very different and limitless future awaits you, once you drop the expectations and illusions that trot alongside you from the past, influenced by consensus reality. A divinely customized future will be yours—one that will truly be for your highest good.