Many years ago I discovered that very often I could look at a card from a deck of playing cards and "will" other people to "guess" the card by projecting its image into their heads. I became so fascinated with this that I would sometimes carry a deck of cards around with me for that purpose...
It was about seventeen years ago. I had been visiting with an artsy young couple from Seattle, and had gone to meet them for dinner in San Francisco. As I was leaving to return to my home (at that time) in Santa Rosa, they invited me to meet with them later that evening at a party in Vallejo. Since it was not terribly far out of my way home, I agreed--after getting their assurance that they would indeed meet me there, and that I wouldn't be stranded with a bunch of strangers.
The party was at the very large studio of a woman artist in vogue at that time (I don't recall her name), which was situated in an enormous basilica of a building that had previously housed a bank. Hanging from the walls of the massive interior were many abstract paintings of enormous size, and the expansive floor space was furnished with dozens of long collapsible tables. There was not much food that I can remember, or perhaps by the time I got there it was all gone. I looked around for my friends, and did not find them. They never did show up.
I tried half-heartedly to get into the festive atmosphere, but was not really able to start up any meaningful conversation with the party-goers. Just when I was considering leaving, a guest entertainer was introduced, and mounted a small stage that had been set up for the party. It was Steve Bhaerman, who took on his alter-ego of Swami Beyondananda, and did his inimitable schtick of sage puns and jokes, spiced with remarkably spiritually and politically aware wisdom. I found that he wrote a syndicated column featuring his unique humor. I had the presence of mind to introduce myself as the editor of the newly launched Free Spirit Journal magazine, and I asked if he would consider contributing his column to the mag. He did so, and we ran his column for a number of months, until he moved to Texas and I lost touch with him. (I'm happy to say he's back in the Bay Area now, and as delightful as ever.)
As I was about to leave, satisfied that the purpose of being guided to this strange party had been fulfilled, the small stage was mounted by a juggler. He was an interesting dude, who reminded me of a medieval minstrel--a true jongleur. Indeed, he supported himself, so it was said, as a street entertainer in San Francisco's wharf. He had a remarkable sense of humor and charisma. The high point of his act was juggling a number of flaming torches. Unfortunately for him, the stage was so small that some of the party decorations caught fire from the flares, which could have resulted in a major catastrophe had they not been extinguished promptly by an astute onlooker.
Nevertheless, I found his performance and his personality most delightful, and afterwards I pulled him aside to tell him so. I think my compliments assuaged the chagrin of having nearly burned the building down. Something about him indicated to me that this was a person with unusual intuitive ability, and wistfully thought about my deck of cards, which of course I'd had no reason to bring with me that day.
As I spoke to this man, for some reason I looked behind me for a moment--I don't know why--and noticed that not more than five feet away on the corner of one of the long tables sat a deck of cards. As we spoke, I walked over to the deck and picked it up. It was not complete, but it was complete enough for my purposes. As I continued to speak to my juggler, I shuffled the deck, held it in front of me and peeked at the top card. It was the Queen of Hearts. I suddenly asked him, "What card am I looking at?" He blurted out, "Queen of Hearts." I turned the card so he could see that he was correct.
"That's great! How did you do that?" he said.
"I didn't do anything. You did that!" I said.
"Aw, come on--really! How did you do that?"
"I really didn't do anything. You did it--really."
"Dammit, don't give me that. I'm an entertainer! There's some trick there, and I'm just asking you nicely to give me some idea what it is."
I really didn't know how to handle this, except to assure him that there was no trick--he actually had that ability to see my mental picture of the card.
"Yeah, thanks for nothing!" he said, and turned around and stomped off. I never saw him again.
An interesting sequel to the story... as I was leaving the party shortly after, with the "magic" deck of cards in my hands, a young man who was also leaving asked me, "Where did you get those cards?"
Thinking that maybe I should have replaced them on the table, I explained that they had appeared there just when I was wishing I had a deck of cards. He said, "That's impossible. When I came here I had that deck, and when I walked in I handed each person here a different card, as a sort of a joke. There were none left. They couldn't have all ended up in a stack in one place!"
This is a story that I often think of when I'm teaching about identity and responsibility in my workshops, the point being that people really do see each other's mental pictures---like it or not!
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