Do you believe in fate?
Can it really be the case that the position of the stars above our heads at birth, some divine being, or our actions in past lives, can determine the way our futures unfold?
I find the idea that we are not masters of our own fate, captains of our own souls, rather unnerving. I prefer to see the future as an unfolding, featureless landscape that only we can design and mould.
But then I thought back recently to a night, almost exactly twenty years ago, in New York City.
Back then I was in my mid twenties. I was living in London, burning the candle at both ends, and working in one of the hottest Ad Agencies in town.
My new, young, CEO must have been reading up on staff motivation and retention, because he decided to award a prize for the team that created the best ad campaign of the year. My team won. The prize was an all expenses paid trip for two to Manhattan for a long weekend, staying at the newly opened, seriously hip, W Hotel.
I invited one of my best girlfriends, who was completely crazy, a real hoot, and, like me, a bad girl. She also happened to be a Countess.
Back in those days, travelling with someone with an aristocratic title was a serious bonus. We were upgraded to Business Class, and the hotel sent a stretch limo to collect us at the airport. We had a ball.
New York, years ahead of London, had instituted a ban on smoking in public places. We were both serious chimneys, and were not at all happy about this turn of events. Luckily I'd done my homework, and I found a restaurant which still, for some reason, had a smoking area. It was called Raoul's, in Soho.
The other reason I loved the sound of this place was that there was a resident fortune teller who you could consult after dinner. (I just looked up their website. It's still there, but no mention of a fortune teller any more. Shame).
French cooking, copious cigarettes and a palm reader - what's not to like? I thought. (Although that expression hadn't been invented back then).
We went to the top of a huge skyscraper first, where we sat at a chrome and glass bar and had a martini each looking over the city, then we had a wonderful dinner at Raoul's with a bottle of fine red wine.
After dinner I went and found the fortune teller. I had recently started dating Mr SM, and wanted to know if he was 'The One.'
The fortune teller was sketchy on this point. He could well be, she said, without much detail or interest.
What she did want to talk about, however, was alcohol. She said that my future involved writing and alcohol, and that I would help lots of people. She could tell I was confused, because she said that it wouldn't make any sense to me for a long time.
I wasn't just confused, I was insulted! I wasn't drunk. In those days I was a total 'normie.' Yes, I drank a fair amount, but cigarettes were my addiction back then, not booze. It would be another decade before I'd be on first name terms with the wine witch. So why was this lady banging on about booze???
Well, now it makes sense.
So was all of this just written in the stars? Was Juliet always destined to die young (see When the Wine Witch Wins)? Was I always going to become a lush?
And what next?
I still like to think that we can shape our own destiny, so long as we don't leave it in the hands of the wine witch....
What do you think?
Love SM x