It was simply supposed to be a “let’s get out of the house” outing, but turned into one of those days that challenged and strengthened my spiritual beliefs. “Why don’t we go to New Hope?” my wife Sophy suggested.
New Hope, PA is about 30 miles from where we live in New Jersey, on the banks of the Delaware River, near where Washington made his famous crossing. On the way, we stop off at a look-out where George himself stood, scouting the landscape and plotting his attack. I’ve always felt a mystical connection to the American Revolution. Many of the founding fathers were mystics (including a few bipolars) who were not afraid to put their enlightened values into action, as well as to the test.
It’s a beautiful fall day. The view from a tower offers a spectacular vista of the Delaware Valley, but I prefer walking on the same ground Washington walked, breathing in the crisp air, closing my eyes, and connecting to a different time.
New Hope could pass for someplace out of Middle Earth, with historic stone buildings on a river and canal setting that inspires nostalgia for a golden age that never was. I walk across a small bridge and I tell my wife to stop. I’m having a Zen moment. The sun is shining through the leaves in a manner that can only be described as perfect. The water is reflecting back the sun with similar perfection. Ancient buildings blending in with the land-and-waterscape complete the perfect moment. I am in the moment, at one with perfection.
We step into a shop that has some kind of name like “Mystick Magick.” As I check out the faux Celtic bric-a-brac, the woman behind the counter tries a few pick-up lines on Sophy. I feel a weird vibe about the place, but nevertheless we book a couple of tarot card readings an hour hence.
The next stop is a Tibetan shop, and here the vibe is totally different. At once I sense an inner peace. The gracious older man manning the register could be the Dali Lama. I buy a mandala-like necklace for my grown daughter living in New Zealand and a totally cool knitted woolen Sherpa cap for myself.
A few more shops and then it’s back to the mystick magick place. The tarot reader casually instructs Sophy to go into a curtained alcove and start shuffling cards. Then he takes a call on his cell phone, elbows leaning on the counter, his protruding rear-end angled in my direction. He is making stupid small talk that goes on and on. I’m expecting any second for him to tell his caller that he has clients and to break off the call, but he has forgotten all about us. I see Sophy peering from behind the curtains wondering what the hell is going on. And here I am, backed into a corner with nothing to look at but the bric-a-brac and this guy’s backside.
At once, Sophy and I sense enough is enough. We’re out of there. The reader continues with his phone call without acknowledging us.
We have lunch, poke around some more shops, and watch kids feeding the ducks. We spot another shop that offers psychic readings. Sophy’s appetite has been whetted by our previous encounter and she is raring to go. This time the vibe inside the shop is far better.
From the conversation behind the curtain, it is clear that Sophy is having a great tarot card reading, but the lack of privacy disturbs me. Imagine your next visit with your psychiatrist or therapist with just a curtain separating you from whoever happens to walk in off the street.
Then it’s my turn. It’s clear the reader sees me as the skeptical husband, going along with the exercise just to humor my wife. He is just going through the motions. He flips some cards and lets me know I’m a “new soul.”
New soul is a loaded term. It strongly implies one hasn’t been around long enough to acquire much spiritual wisdom. Indeed, my reader tells me I will have to keep coming back until I’ve learned my lessons.
To be honest, I’ve never felt I’ve belonged on this planet. Maybe I am a new arrival. If so, my alien sensibilities make me hypersensitive to all that is wrong and stupid about the world we live in, not to mention what is good about it and what could be better. Maybe once I’ve been around the block a few more times I’ll start getting used to the place, which I’m not sure is a good thing.
But maybe that’s my special challenge, to get used to the place. Perhaps my greatest spiritual breakthrough came nearly eight years ago when I finally accepted I wasn’t normal and sought help and got a diagnosis. Instead of opting out of this world, I signaled a willingness to stick around, settle in, even. Once I’m settled in – who knows? – maybe I can move forward.
Outside, Sophy and I talk about our respective readings. Ironically, old soul Sophy brings up her material concerns – finances, career, and so on. Maybe she knows that is all you can expect from psychics. After all, psychic and spiritual are far from synonymous. I look out to the thrilling sight of a nearly full moon suspended like a crystal orb over the Delaware. Suddenly, I’m back in the moment, having another perfect moment. Two in one day, along with a bunch of pretty damn good ones. Clearly, I’m making progress.
Published On: November 16, 2006
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