Thoughts by Richard Bleil
So, it was about 1990. I was living in Boston while attending graduate school. Just up the coast from Boston is Salem, Massachusetts. Yes, THAT Salem, where the infamous witch trials took place. Some friends of mine and I decided we wanted to visit, and it was well worth the trip.
Salem embraces its past. In the center of town is a round-about where the hangings occurred. The town had a macabre feel to it, and witchcraft and tarot stores abounded. We decided to enter one of the palm-reading stores, interrupting what was apparently the family meal. A young girl, maybe middle-school aged, read my palm.
She had a serious look on her face as she did so. She ran her finger along my proverbial lifeline. That’s when she told me that my lifeline was broken. She said that this represents a break in my life pathway, some dramatic change in where my life was heading, and where it will go. She informed me that it would happen sometime in my ‘50’s.
And here I am, at the end of my ‘50’s, and things have definitely changed course for me. I’m feeling adrift but I was certain that I would be teaching chemistry until my own end of days, but that seems unlikely now. Just yesterday, I completed the second of two required classes before I’m eligible to take the real-estate exam. So perhaps that’s my new path.
Changing direction so dramatically can be a frightening thing. When you’re certain that your life is moving in the only direction it will go, it feels odd to suddenly go another, especially at my age. But change isn’t a bad thing, well, not always. With a new direction, a new career, brings new opportunities, and new experiences.
I used to periodically compare life to a potted plant. Plants can only live in one plot for so long. They’re comfortable in that pot, but it begins to stunt their growth. They can only grow so much before they basically begin to stagnate. For the plant to continue to grow, it becomes necessary to repot the plant. That is very uncomfortable for the plant. There’s a period where they will likely look sickly, and lose some of their green, but once they’ve acclimated to their new home, they suddenly burst into life with new leaves and new growth.
I guess that’s where I’m at with my broken lifeline. My past life is done, and now I’m looking at something new. Maybe real-estate, maybe something else (since I haven’t really started down this path yet), but it’s different. Teaching is over, and chemistry is done, so anything heading my way will be a whole new life.
The gypsy girl at the palm-reading store also told me that I will be married once, only once, late in life. Yes, this, too, came to pass. I wasn’t married until I was in my forties, and although that only lasted for (almost) two years, it’s too late for me to remarry at this point. It’s kind of frightening how accurate she was.
From a strictly biological point of view, my life is a failure. The only biological point to life is to procreate, something I’ve never done. If I were to have a child today, I’d be pushing seventy when the child was ready to play ball, and eighty when they graduate high school. That’s not much of a life for a child, and I get that, so no, procreation is not an option for me either. Not at this point in my life. I should be playing with grandchildren by now, not my own children.
It’s kind of disappointing to look at my broken lifeline. On some level, it makes me feel like a failure. Yes, I know I’ve accomplished quite a bit, but without a family, I never accomplished the one goal I ever really had. But life is life, I guess, and time goes on. All that’s left now is to see where I can take it, and what remains for me to accomplish.
I’ve been dead a few times already. I’ve been in a car crash in 1985 that should have killed me, I’ve been rolled in New York City, accosted by a gang, and had my heart stopped for surgery during my triple bypass. If God wanted to call me home, there have been plenty of chances, so I guess there remains something to be done, but what it might be I cannot imagine. I guess I just need to follow the second half of my lifeline.