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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Seen, touched and left for another. On a sidewalk in an alleyway in SOMA, somewhere between Folsom and Howard.


Function: Noun
Etymology: Latin portentum, from neuter of portentus, past participle of portendere
Date: circa 1587

1 : something that foreshadows a coming event : omen, sign
2 : prophetic indication or significance
3 : marvel, prodigy


"Omens are the individual language in which God talks to you. My omens are not your omens." ~ Paul Coelho

I came across that Tarot card on a forgotten sidewalk about a week or so ago. It was in a random alley somewhere South of Market, and now I can't remember exactly where.

Even without picking up the card, I knew it was from a Tarot deck, even though the image is not from a traditional deck. Upon examining the card, I saw it had no recognizable suit or arcana that I could relate to.

I smiled at the thought of a message I could not understand, and put the card back on the sidewalk, hoping the next passersby would glean a little more from the portent than I could.


In times past, I would have taken a random occurrence like that to have some vast cosmic significance. I searched for omens and signs and indications everywhere. It made me feel like I wasn't so alone. That the universe had plans for me, as insignificant and terribly mortal as I might be in the great scheme of things.

It was a charming and colorful phase of my life, sometimes devotional, sometimes dark. And sometimes I was just going through the motions, to believe that a message was intended only for me, if I could interpret it, even though deep down I knew it was like playing make-believe. I had my guides: my corners, my directions, my crystals and sage and oils and incense and chants and ragas.

And then somehow, it became easier to just live instead of trying to make sense of it all. Trying to figure out what will happen next in your life is stressful, and looking for portents is not a very good way to go about it.

Now, even though I slip up from time to time and utter "well, all things happen for a reason," with a wink, I'll catch myself and try to enjoy the magic of a random happening that has no import at all, only if I give it such.

The magic has gone out of my life in a way. Or perhaps by magic I mean whimsy, with a generous touch of delusion. But it has been replaced by a sense of the groundedness I thought I was giving myself all along.


When I got home from my walk, I googled different kinds of Tarot decks, because I still wanted to find out what that card meant. It's from the Zen Oshu deck, and the card I stumbled upon is The Creator.


There are two types of creators in the world: one type of creator works with objects - a poet, a painter, they work with objects, they create things; the other type of creator, the mystic, creates himself. He doesn't work with objects, he works with the subject; he works on himself, his own being. And he is the real creator, the real poet because he makes himself into a masterpiece.

You are carrying a masterpiece hidden within you, but you are standing in the way. Just move aside, then the masterpiece will be revealed. Everyone is a masterpiece, because God never gives birth to anything less that that. Everyone carries that masterpiece hidden for many lives, not knowing who they are, and just trying on the surface to become someone.

Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you already are a masterpiece. You cannot be improved. You have only to come to it, to know it, to realize it. God has himself created you, you cannot be improved.

Old habits die hard.

That message made me smile.


"He will put money in your hand," the old woman said to me.
At the bus stop yesterday, 6th Avenue at Clement


Yesterday I was waiting in the bus shelter for the 44 O'Shaughnessy and eating a little piece of crispy Chinese pork, which I had bought across the street, along with a few pieces of dim sum. Crispy pork is my new favorite pork discovery, although I'm sure the Chinese have been enjoying it for thousands of years.

An old Chinese woman walked into the bus shelter, looked up at the NextMuni sign and saw that we had 9 more minutes until the next bus. I didn't notice her pulling out the cardboard with cheap jewelry stuck to it, but before I knew it, I was getting a not-so-subtle sales pitch.

$2 earrings. No thanks. A jade cross pendant on a suede string. No, really, thanks.

Then she shows me the jade Buddha.

"Four dollars," she says. The woman looked chagrined, as if this piece was a bit too expensive. "But he will put money in your hand."

"Really? He'll put money in my hand?"

Because I could sure use some money in my hand these days. Living la Vie Boheme wears a bit thin at times.

She nods.

Then I notice her old plastic shoes with holes in them, and her dirty bag. How many pairs of $2 earrings must she sell a day just to buy a plate of crispy pork and dim sum? How many people say No Thanks until that happens?

I don't believe the Buddha will put money in my hand, really, although it's a lovely thought. But I do think the Buddha (if he ever existed and somehow was watching this transaction) would be pleased if I gave this lady four dollars, which I have (I have six dollars).

So I buy the Buddha.

And that is a story. Without magic, but a nice true story nonetheless.


Quarter Thrower September 23, 2009 at 8:33 AM  

life is so much more simple when you just live.

welcome back to writing.

loved the story and I hope that the lady sold a few more things to get whatever she wanted to buy.

Brook September 23, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

Yes exactly says the wife and mother of, now, 3 with exactly $1.52 in her pocket. Exactly. It has been sucking a** lately but I am so happy to live, just today and just this moment. =)

An Open Heart September 23, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

She's baaaaaaaack......Great post and great thoughts to ponder.


~K September 23, 2009 at 3:46 PM  

Whew! Thank God Portents don't mean anything because my last one was a doozie. I am not sure why but as I read your Chinese sales lady story the song "one Night in Bankok" kept going through my head.

Oh an my Captcha word is oveysf
I wonder what it all means......

smith kaich jones September 23, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

LOVED this. And me - oh I see signs and messages everywhere and pay attention, but like Coehlo said my omens are not your omens, and hey, the Buddha put 4 bucks in that womans hands. But first? That 4 bucks was in your hands. Not for long, but there.

Again, LOVED this!
:) Debi

Louis Duke September 23, 2009 at 6:20 PM  

you are an amazing story teller

Cheryl September 24, 2009 at 4:06 AM  

A beautiful story and pictures. A twofer day full of rich abundance.

I used to pick up pennies from heaven because I needed a sign that affirmed g-d really did have a plan. That I was right where I was meant to be in that moment. I never spent them; they didn't belong to me.

Now, I'm a little less in need of knowing there's a plan and trying to just enjoy each day. I still pick up the pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and occasional bills I find. They go into a jar as always. When my jar overfloweth, I roll the coins, deposit the whole thing, and make a donation. The circle goes unbroken: receive and give.

Life is easier lived in the moment.

glnroz September 24, 2009 at 8:33 AM  

I respectfully disagree,, the "magic" is not gone..this was kinda inspirational. :)

namastenancy September 24, 2009 at 3:21 PM  

People reaching out to other people with compassion and caring, seeing the dignity on those unlike ourselves, having a kind heart - looks like the best kind of magic to me.

AphotoAday September 24, 2009 at 5:57 PM  

Very thought provoking, that "The Creator" text... I'm not exactly ready to take the advice, but I'll keep it in mind...

But I've got to wonder how that card got there -- purposely placed or carelessly dropped... Magically appeared?

Walking around the Broadway area early in the morning I used to often find cards printed with the word "Heaven"... They were advertisements (could have been discount coupons) for a strip-joint on Broadway with that name... A couple months ago I was listening to local radio news and they were reporting that "Heaven" had been finally shut down for prostitution after a long history of run-ins with the SFPD vice squad... Oh darn -- my only chance to get into Heaven and now the place is shut...

sfmike September 24, 2009 at 6:55 PM  

Omens from god/the universe are real and witches like yourself are unusually sensitive to them, but they have nothing to do with wisdom. That comes from knowing how to read the omens, which requires a real understanding of yourself and your place in the universe. I'd say your Tarot zen card was right on the money. And so was the Buddha lady at the bus stop.

Carmen Henesy September 24, 2009 at 9:09 PM  

I liked this story so much and, living in the Bay area, I could so relate to this. I am still suffering with the loss of my forensic nursing position of 21 years in the massive cuts to DPH and trying to go on with my life as I celebrate my 65th birthday Oct 3, while maintaining a semblance of a positive attitude. Though my income has dropped $100,000 a year with retirement, I can still manage some dim sum...and I've started blogging to ward off depression. Glad I discovered your site!

Brook September 26, 2009 at 3:19 PM  

Hey there! My email is broken. Oh well. Thank you!

Ragamuffin Gal September 26, 2009 at 9:20 PM  

This is exactly the type of story I love, the ones that makes us feel a little more human.

Just Jules September 27, 2009 at 10:56 AM  

"it became easier to just live instead of trying to make sense of it all. "
And this I will take with me today.

Hayley Egan September 27, 2009 at 12:30 PM  

This WAS a bit magic, as well as being a nice true story.