Crystal Ball

Have you ever had your tea leaves read, or the lines upon your palm scrutinized, or been ushered through a heavy curtain made from crushed velvet and fringed with gold, behind which a woman with smoky kohl eyes gazed into a crystal ball to tell you what lay in store for you?  Two things have got me thinking about what the future holds.  The first is the simple fact of the year’s turning — when we know what we’re leaving behind, but we’re not at all sure what’s coming down the line.  The second trigger was going to see Scottish Ballet’s performance of The Snow Queen earlier this week.  Why?  Because of the prologue they added to the story.  It was this: The Snow Queen is a young woman, living with her younger sister, the Summer Princess, in an isolated palace.  The younger sister, being summer by name and by nature (I’m with her on that one), eschews the ice and longs to leave.  She begs her older sister to use her enchanted mirror to show her the future, which big sis does, and the Summer Princess sees herself many years into the future embracing a handsome stranger.  Well, after seeing this, the Summer Princess cannot contain herself in the here and now and she runs away to seek the love that’s been shown her.  Cut to the end and it all goes wrong, finishing with the demise of both sisters as one tries to control a present that has been corrupted by falsities (Snow Queen) and the other tries to pursue a future that isn’t right for her (Summer Princess).

These thoughts – about the year end and the ballet ­– have pooled into one, causing me to dwell on the ancient draw of soothsayers and whether or not any seeds that are planted in us as to what the future holds might affect our behaviour in the present.  You might scoff and say, I would never go to a fortune teller, but even if that is so, there are very few of us who go through life with an open mind as to what the future holds; few who don’t try to predict their own future.  Nearly all of us have expectations, ambitions, ideals, we create mental pictures of where we’re going – all of which, you could argue, drive us and keep us purposeful.  Is it any better to live with no or low expectations and to let life unfold?  I have a good friend who writes poetry and, as she told me recently, the recurring theme in her writing is one of dampening her own expectations so that she will never feel crushed.  You mightn’t expect someone who lives by that premise to be bright and lively, but she is.  Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, wrote: ‘The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.’  It’s a beautiful line, and although I’m not certain what he means, I imagine it’s about having the courage to face the unknown.  I think he’s telling us to hold fast to a sense of what is possible in the future, balance it with the potential of it not working out, and get on with life.  In short, be your own fortune teller, but not in an overly conscious way, don’t sweat it.

Having said all that, and without access to the Snow Queen’s mirror, I still wonder what next year holds.  I have a few loose plans, I’m juggling balls of thoughts, some notions are becoming illuminated shapes in the darkness, but, in truth, I have no idea.  Next year – que sera, sera; what will be, will be.

Que Sera, Sera, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

When I grew up and fell in love
I asked my sweetheart
What lies ahead
Will we have rainbows
Day after day
Here’s what my sweetheart said

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother
What will I be
Will I be handsome
Will I be rich
I tell them tenderly

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be
Que sera, sera

6 thoughts on “Crystal Ball

  1. I notice you wrote smoky kohl rather than smokey kohl. Noting than pringles have smokey bacon rather than smoky bacon and in deference to smokey being a rising americanism (admittedly the battle is not yet won), it behoves you to move to the longer adjective in an indirect support of whiskey over whisky as a good Irishwoman.

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    1. Interesting that you should mention a crisp ‘flavour’ when remarking upon my description of a particular ‘colour’ – there is no battle to win between us and our ‘neighbours’ on the other side of the pond, one shouldn’t waste one’s ‘labours’ in over-‘analysing’ such trifling matters. Whiskey, however, is the spelling you will find on a bottle of Bushmills, same spelling since 1608.

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  2. As Shakespeare said in “loves labors lost” (you read that right, check the original text) “small have continual plodders ever won, save by base authority from others books” let’s not sweat the small stuff.

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