The fortune teller pointed to a worn couch1 in her tent. It seemed like an odd thing to bring such heavy furniture with a traveling circus, but it looked comfortable and my feet were hurting, so I was happy to sit down for a few minutes. Listening to her slow and monotone voice explaining about tarot cards and chicken bones2, it wasn’t long before I fell asleep. And whether it was the sweet tea she gave me, mystical cognitive powers of the couch, or something else, I had the strangest dream.
One thousand people were standing on the edge of the world. Bound by steel shackles and heavy chains we waited in silence, staring into the night. Lonely stars from far away painted a glowing image across the dark sky. Everything was quiet. “What is out there?” whispered a woman standing next to me. “I do not know“, I said. “There might be other worlds, or there might be only nothingness. The stars you see are perhaps lighthouses put there to safely guide travelers through space, or just the lingering memories of fire from when the universe exploded into existence.” She gave me a questioning look but didn’t ask more. Then suddenly, without a word, two quick steps forward took her over the edge and she was falling. The chains rattled as her empty shackles hit the ground. Nobody else moved. After some time, we stepped away from the edge and were herded back to a camp and given food and water. While sitting there eating, a bird landed on my shoulder and pecked my arm with its beak.
Waking up, it turned out to be the fortune teller who was pecking3 my arm, not a bird. Embarrassed about falling asleep during our session, I quickly stood up and started to leave. “Don’t you want to know what happened to the woman?” she asked. Stopping in my tracks, I just stared at her. “How do you know about my dream?”
“Because it’s the same dream everyone dreams when they come here. It’s about your past, present, and future. The one thousand people were all different versions of you. Bound to mediocrity by their own history and the dulling mantras of normality. But also with countless worlds to explore if they dare to break the chains and leave the comfort of what they know to be true – for example, that the world is flat.”
“Alright“, I said, “tell me what happened to the woman who fell.”
“Actually, she didn’t fall. Trusting her own greatness and taking a big leap of faith into the unknown, her wings extended and she realized she could fly. To prove it, she came back to land on your shoulder.”
Thinking that the whole episode was perhaps a little too strange to make sense, I thanked4 the fortune teller and walked out into the sunshine. The chains rattled as my empty shackles fell to the ground.
1. The couch had a remarkable resemblance to those found in more “psychiatric” environments.
2. Clearly a fortune teller influenced by multiple disciplines from both old age and new age.
3. Because it was the fortune teller and not a bird, it luckily wasn’t pecking, but poking. Anything else would have been both weird and disturbing.