When I was a kid I believed there were exactly four careers available to women; teacher, nurse, secretary and nun. I had no interest in any of these paths so ran into the kitchen to ask my mother what I would be when I grew up. She looked startled by my question. She put down the plate she’d been drying and took a deep breath. Then she belted out, Que sera, sera! Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see!
Breaking into song at a critical dramatic plot point, while charming in musicals, in real life is simply irritating. I didn’t want Doris Day to serenade me. I wanted someone to answer my dang questions! As it turns out, my future included asking questions for a living; I became a journalist. For 20-plus years I was a staff journalist at a newspaper and it was a blast but circumstances changed. For several months I’ve been freelancing, blogging, and working on a couple book projects but seemed to be in a slump.
In short, I wondered what my future held.
This time I left my mother to her alto solos and asked Don Clarkson. This was a guy who couldn’t answer my questions with the Que Sera chorus because he bills himself as a personal coach and psychic counselor. The future is his to see.
“I try to frame it more in a counseling format rather than a fortune teller,” said Clarkson of his consultation sessions.
No fancy crystal ball. No channeling spirits. His method is more intuitive. He describes it as “going into an imaginary workshop” where he considers his client’s concerns and allows images to come to mind, and then discusses what he has seen.
“A lot of people think we’re tuned into God or some script in the sky. I don’t,” he said. “I think I’m looking at a snapshot of where you are at now.”
Clarkson lives in Palm Springs. I live in Portland, Oregon. I sent an email with my concerns (described above) and a few days later we talked by phone. He knew I was as interested in writing about his past as I was in hearing about my future.
How, exactly, does one learn to be a psychic?
“I went through a course called LifeSpring,” Clarkson said.
OK, I’ll admit I cringed. The long defunct new age human potential group was known to me only through old news stories about the many lawsuits brought against them. But Clarkson said during a “natural knowing” exercise he was paired with a random stranger and discovered he had a talent for intuiting facts. Pretty specific facts, as a matter of fact. For example, he “saw” a boat with a yellow striped sail. The stranger blanched and said her son owned just such a boat.
Journalistic snoop that I am, I wondered if he’d been set-up. Cults have been known to put plants in audiences to dupe potential recruits. But Clarkson said he grew better at intuiting these images over the years.
One of the most dramatic examples, he said, was for a woman struggling with romantic relationships. He saw disturbing images of her in a long-term incestuous liaison with a sibling. He feared telling her what he’d seen.
“What if I was wrong,” he said to me.
He wasn’t. The woman confirmed his image but insisted that what had happened in her past had no bearing on who she was today. Eventually, she came to understand that it did affect her current relationships and that she was capable of change.
“Everyone wants to know how this works,” said Clarkson. “I have no idea.”
But he is confident it does work.
“It doesn’t mean they are illogical or kooky,” he said referring not only to his imaging techniques but also Tarot, Kabala and others. “It just means they are beyond our understanding.”
He’s never seen winning lottery numbers. I asked. I may be a skeptic but if he said he saw numbers I would run out and buy a ticket.
Clarkson said that in all his years of consulting he’d twice seen images of clients on the Oprah show, and both soon after appeared on the show. He understands that his images may have simply given them the confidence to take the necessary steps to make an appearance on the Oprah show a reality.
Is he ever wrong?
Well, three times he saw a woman passing a professional qualifying test and three times she failed by a single point. She wanted to know why he was wrong. He wondered what she was doing – or not doing – to fail so consistently.
“These are my pictures and if you don’t want them, you don’t take them,” he said. “It’s not predictions. You have free will.”
He expressed frustration with what he called “New Age nitwits” who are so eager to confirm what he’s said that they point to flimsy proof. How so? After Clarkson saw one client coming into unearned money, she phoned him excitedly to report she’d found a quarter on the street.
I figured my expectations were somewhere between spare change and Oprah.
Essentially, I’d asked for career advice with a psychic twist. Had he seen a decent-selling book with thoughtful reviews in my future, I would have been thrilled. If he’d simply suggested which of the many writing projects I’m currently working on deserves focus, I would have been satisfied. So what did he see? I felt like a wide-eyed Dorothy waiting for word from the Wizard.
“I see you teaching,” he said.
I couldn’t have been less excited if he told me he saw me tutoring a convent of nursing nuns in secretarial skills. While he described his image of me standing at the front of a room talking to a class or group, I kept mostly quiet. I have nothing against teachers -- well, OK, maybe a couple of particularly cruel nuns – but I have never seen myself in that role and can't imagine sustaining the enthusiasm necessary to be any good at it. Not to mention I don’t have a degree and could die of old age before I earned one.
Clarkson said he sensed me resisting this image.
I confessed my childhood fear of limited career opportunities. We shared a laugh. (FYI, I also feared monsters and zombies like a normal kid.)
He reminded me that these were just images but also encouraged me to broaden my idea of what teaching might mean and suggested a brain storming exercise.
The second image? He saw me again working “on staff” somewhere, not as a journalist but employed by a larger organization or corporation where my writing -- and teaching skills -- would be employed.
Seriously? After my less than enthusiastic response to his first vision I expected him to lie to me. I asked about my book projects. Clarkson wondered if there could be a teaching component to any of them.
The third image was health related. In some ways, I think this was the most daring of the images he offered because it is one that can easily be confirmed or disproved with a simple blood test. I will check it out.
I hope I can check teaching off my list by claiming the blog teaches me something.
Even if the lesson learned is that I'm just a fool.