When I used to read Tarot cards and the I Ching, people were simultaneously curious about the future and nervous about hearing what it might be. A person’s feelings about the results of fortune telling were based to a great extent on what exactly they thought the future was/is.
Some people believe in fate, a concrete future stemming from the workings of the cosmos while others believe in destiny stemming from an individual’s probable decisions leading toward a specific or general situation or set of circumstances. I don’t believe in either or that the future is engraved in stone in any way.
The best point of view I heard about a psychic reading is an old one, one that proposes that a reader is standing on the roof of a tall building viewing multiple city streets that are, of course, not totally visible to people or cars on those streets. S/he sees two cars approaching an intersection without traffic signals. They’re moving a the same speed. One prediction might be that there will be a collision. Yet that prediction is not fixed because either car may change its speed, pull into a parking garage, or stop at a store. The prediction, then, is merely a possibility based on current conditions.
Some say that the future is part of (or all of) God’s plan and that He/She moves in mysterious ways. The Presbyterians used to believe in predestination about not only the future in this world but whether or not we’d end up in heaven or hell in the world to come. The outcome was considered fixed. I was a Presbyterian in my K-12 years and thought that belief was silly. Later, Kabalistic studies convinced me there was nothing mysterious about the workings of the Creator.
Some say all time is now. Everything thing that will happen is happening at this moment in one venue or another. We just can’t observe all the venues with our physical senses. Lena, the cat in my Florida Folk Magic Series, has this view.
Some quantum physicists say that everything that can happen, will happen in one universe or another. This tends to be my view because I believe we create our own reality. That is to say, the future is what we are creating unconsciously (usually). A lot of people subscribe to this idea in a speculative sense but deny it when it’s applied to real conditions. They don’t want to believe that if they’re in one of the two cars the psychic sees from the roof of the tall building, they have chosen to be in the collision if there is one.
That notion is counter-intuitive and/or horrifying when you get down to specifics and so people think it’s easier to say that God, fate, destiny, luck, or randomness determines the future rather than to say one has any responsibility for it. Personally, I want the responsibility and find that much more palatable than disagreeing with Einstein and believing that God does play dice with the universe. You won’t be surprised to hear that I never express this belief in public after a tragedy because that would shake up the belief system of another person who is suffering a loss.
In fact, most of the time, it’s just better for me to keep my mouth shut except in “what-if?” posts like this one where many readers will just assume I got into the locoweed again.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Series, including the novel “Lena.”