On the road in the unbelievably hot south. Heat wave in the high 90s. Was 99-101 when I left Greenville, North Carolina, and now I am in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at the Meher Spiritual Retreat Center. It’ll be 54 minutes until I have to locate my charger… unpacked in the heat with a white-haired but otherwise Lily Tomlin look-alike helping me, until I chilled out in the boat house.

Today I will sit ensconced in the cabin by the two fans. Meher Baba smiles at me in pink and assures me to Trust God and life will solve all difficulties. I need the rest.

Opening Palms

Working FloydFest’s tenth anniversary in Floyd, Virginia was fantastic. Started slow, down in Global Village, but attendance has swollen to 14,000 to 20,000, depending on who your sources were from 2000 when it began 10 years ago. The festival has swollen from local hippies to folks flying in from southern California to hear Hot Tuna and the like.

Tara, from Donna the Buffalo, a band from Trumansburg, New York, is 56 and going strong, plucking a washboard across her chest asexually while other women musicians, like Gracie Patton playing with the Nocturnals with stuffed animal icons (a lion and a tiger, a la Durga the original eight armed goddess in the Hindu cosmology, except Gracie is miniskirted) simulates orgasm and closes her last Saturday-night set belting, “I’ve got the medicine that everybody needs,” as we all jump up and down burning off cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, and eliminating excess pounds.

I enjoyed reading for the large blond woman down to 250 pounds who later brought me her teenage son, the thin woman (another blond) who spends eight hours a day in her car driving 300 miles to do and teach substance abuse counseling eating fast foods along the way, without exercising. A nurse would know better, you’d think.

But her potential hand life line shows 90 years plus; her reality hand, only 60. We talked about how she could eat more healthily and exercise along the way. I told her how I travel with my bike in my van and take fruits and veggies and tofu, only ordering black, iced, sugarless coffee at McDonalds and then eating in rest stops where I can ride my bike for body breaks along the way. She said okay.

Last year at Michfest, a woman sat down in the middle of my booth and offered to do a trade. In the reading, she pointed out I had had a difficult year. I said, I feel vulnerable here, because you are stripping my artifice way down and seeing into my soul. She tilted her head, and inquired, that is a problem? Well, here, people come to me for answers. And they never suspect how far I am down. Well, she answered, your readings will deepen the more you draw from your own pain, experience, and falls. And the mysterious woman walked away.

Our trade had been accomplished. I never even knew her name.

This year, particularly at FloydFest, I found her premonitions springing into action. I am bringing in from years of suffering, particularly the trials of the last eventful year as my daughter turned 18 and ran off, doing things she knew I would not want her to do. As I held one woman’s hand, for example, I looked at the high inset of her thumb close to the rest of her hand.

“Hmm,” I murmured. “You have a high ethical standard.”

“What do you mean,” she asked.

“Well, you would not do things like, sell a car with someone else’s name on the title and keep the money for yourself. Or break an agreement that if you do not go through with something that someone had fronted the money for, you would pay them back. But when the time came, and you had blown off the obligation, say, ‘when I get around to it, when its convenient for me, when I have saved up to do other things that I want…’ Or you wouldn’t sell off a ticket someone had bought you to go one place with them and go off to another without even telling the person where you were going and fall out of contact… ripping the person off, rather than figuring out how to get there yourself…”

The woman shook her head, no. “These are all immoral, unethical acts, and you wouldn’t even consider doing them, would you?”

The woman said, no.

I can tell, because a person with a high thumb bone set close to the rest of the hand has a high ethical structure. Not like some immature people I know.

“I get it. Thanks,” said the woman, and off this one goes as well.

I watched this one, too, fade into the abyss. The sea of colorful people with hands and feet and lives who flow through the booths of readers on a pleasant sunny musical afternoon, this one in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I felt a cloud lift. There had been a reason I had suffered through this experience. You know how to give a better reading if you boil down to the bones culling from what remains in the ashes, even after a rebellious teenager breaks the strings and leaves home.


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