Last Christmas a good friend gave me a self-help book on learning to live in the present moment, or as the author described it, The Now. “This book changed my life,” my friend said when I unwrapped the gift and stared suspiciously at the photo of the author, a man who I assumed kept a bag of healing crystals and a deck of tarot cards in his glove box. “This could help you,” my friend continued. “It could really open up your chi.” Good friend or not, my chi was none of this person’s business.
Despite, or perhaps rather as a consequence of, my contempt for all things New Age and paranormal, I seem to draw people towards me who embrace the supernatural. I have good friends who believe in ghosts, astrology, holistic healing, reincarnation, psychic powers, and communication with the dead. Several years ago I dated a woman who was convinced she could receive messages from her dead grandmother. I told her unless grandma could give us next week’s lottery numbers or the combination to my mom’s safe, I really wasn’t interested in what she had to say from the beyond.
For my birthday one year, a friend gave me a gift certificate to a place in Asheville where I could have my chakras cleansed. I didn’t know what chakras were and I had to Google the term to find out where mine were located and whether or not I wanted anyone cleansing them. I declined the offer and regifted the certificate to another friend, a woman who once used what looked like an enormous doobie to “realign the energy” of my house. “It’s called a smudge stick,” she said as she wafted gray smoke around the doorways. “It’s dried sage. It’s giving your house a metaphysical cleansing.” Side note: Try as you might, you cannot get a contact high from dried sage.
Another friend, one who continues to recommend I paint my living room red because it will help “energize my fire element,” recently calculated my astrological birth chart. When she finished the chart she looked at me with grave concern. “You’re a triple Pisces,” she said. “You are extremely emotional and your reactions to almost everything are based on emotions rather than logic. You are sentimental, moody, easily moved, and prone to worry.” Her diagnosis was astonishingly accurate and for the briefest of moments I wondered if there might actually be something to all this astrology nonsense. But as she continued talking, my mind drifted to where it usually dwells, a place inhabited with past memories and future dreams. A place where my chi, my vital energy, my chakras, and my true self are most comfortable.
A place far away from the now.