It was ostensibly the least likely place to have one of “those” experiences. You know, the kind that cannot easily be explained. And yet there I was, at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, having one.
I had recently discovered I was pregnant and was suffering from chronic morning sickness that not only lasted the entire morning but also continued throughout the day and into the night. In spite of it, I went ahead anyway and joined my husband on a business trip to Los Angeles so we could spend a relaxing weekend together before our new addition arrived.
As we sat down at a table in the hotel’s bar for a late afternoon bite, I noticed the couple seated next to us. They were actually hard to miss, as they looked more interested in tearing each other’s clothes off than with eating the food in front of them.
My husband and I smirked as we watched these relatively “old” people (probably in their late forties or early fifties at the time) grope each other, and we whispered that perhaps they should go to their room. In fact, I wanted to do the same. But what appealed most to me about my idea was the prospect of vomiting in private instead of in the nearby lobby bathroom. Anything apart from that plan remained far from my mind.
Moments later when I ran toward the nearest restroom, the couple questioned my husband about my hasty exit. Explaining I was pregnant, my husband further elaborated this pregnancy succeeded a miscarriage the previous year and I was not only sick, but cautiously optimistic as well. To put it mildly, I was fearful and uncertain of my future and that of my unborn child.
When I returned to the table, the woman, a tall and beautiful African American goddess who was dressed scantily but not cheaply, congratulated me on my pregnancy. As I thanked her, she told me she had been “touched by the hand of God,” was clairvoyant, and could help me with my nausea.
“May I?” she asked.
But before I could answer she began vigorously rubbing her hands together. Seconds later she brought both palms within an inch of my face and slowly moved them downward until she reached my belly.
The heat that emanated from her was palpable (and inexplicable), and I recall the odd sensation as though it were yesterday. When she was done she looked directly at me and told me I was going to have a beautiful and healthy baby (which I did), and I would experience temporary but immediate relief from feeling ill. I welled up with tears at her words, while my husband looked on incredulously – at the woman for this ostentatious display and at me for believing in its power.
The couple left. And so did my nausea for the duration of the weekend. Of course, with each passing hour I felt relief I increasingly panicked my pregnancy was in trouble, nausea being my only proof the alien-like being inside me was alive and well, continuing to thrive.
My husband and I welcomed a healthy baby girl later that summer, and 14 months later a second daughter. A few years after that, our son was born. Looking back, each successive pregnancy had become mellower than the one before it.
Naysayers will argue my miraculous “cure” resulted purely from the power of suggestion. I beg to differ. I felt something different that afternoon, something ethereal, and I like to think it was more than this stranger’s reassurances because, failing to do so, would mean we are no larger than our own existence.
I believe we are.
That said, I believe as much in free will. In other words, I believe we each have a choice whether or not we feel good and, in the same vein, whether or not we are happy. Yes, you heard me. We must want these things for ourselves. And though we may say we do, failing to take affirmative steps ensuring we are happy can very well mean the difference between living a sated and peaceful existence versus meandering through a life of sadness, regret or indifference.
Author J.K. Rowling once said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” On some days I can effectively argue I hit rock bottom when my marriage ended – when I discovered my husband was leaving me, and for another woman no less. On other days I might tell you for certain it was when I learned my father had died. On still others, I will say with conviction it was when I miscarried my first pregnancy.
Rock bottom is a fallacy. There is no way to know we have hit it until we have already gotten up and something else has come along to challenge us. And no matter how hard we try to predict what is around the bend, even to the extent of visiting psychics (which I have done periodically over the years), we cannot.
But if there is one thing I know for sure it is that we can affect our own destiny.
Have I hit rock bottom? Maybe. Knowing how fragile and unpredictable life is, I certainly hope so. But I also suspect most likely I have not. Yet I refuse to sit here and wait for the other shoe to drop, even if I do occasionally fall victim to the whys: Why is this happening to me, or why is this my life? To date, such questions remain rhetorical, though I know the answers will be revealed in due time.
So yes, I do believe in those things I cannot always understand, if only for the reason that we each have the wherewithal to ascribe meaning to our own lives. The lessons are there. We simply must choose to learn them.
Have you ever found meaning in events you were at first unable to explain?