My Psychic Powers

Keeping in mind that I have no credibility, this is the true story of my psychic powers, which I don’t believe in. The reader may decide if I have psychic powers or not. I’ve already told you I don’t believe in them. I used to but not anymore. However, even though I quit believing, psychic things keep happening, which is profoundly irritating.

In chronological order:

Porky Pig Clairvoyance, 1st-2nd Grade (?)

Family Florida trip. A full-page ad in the back of a comic book transfixed me. I read it on my hotel room bed in a block of sunlight, sounds of the ocean in the distance. The ad was for a book about developing psychic and magic powers. It had fine print about the powers, psychic ways to make money, etc. I read every word, thinking it was real or could be.

Then I remember Dad driving and I was in the front seat with him. It was the just the two of us. Florida seemed particularly packed with road signage. A random thought flitted through my head as stores and restaurants flowed by: a line of Porky Pig dialog. No surprise there. It was fleeting and I paid it no mind. Within a couple minutes we drove past a barbecue place with a Porky Pig knock-off on its signage. I said, “Hey, I just thought about Porky Pig and here we are driving past this sign! That’s psychic!”

“Do you think so?” Dad asked, humoring me.

I did think so. Now I knew: I had psychic powers.

Psychic Dream Predicting Star Wars, 2nd Grade

The impossible memory. When the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977, I thought I had predicted it in a psychic dream. I was seven.

That was the year my family moved from Maryland to New York state. The teacher told the class I was moving away, and I left just before Christmas. The classroom wall calendar in Maryland said December 1976. Then my family celebrated the holidays in New York.

Five months later — late May, 1977 — I graduated first grade, and Star Wars came out. The whole family went: Mom and Dad and all three of us kids. As we walked through the parking garage toward the theater, I announced, “I dreamed about this movie when I was little!”

Dad acknowledged me noncommittally with an “Uh-huh.” Maybe he thought this psychic powers thing was going too far.

But the memory of my psychic Star Wars dream was clear to me, and remains clear fifty years later: I am a small child sitting on the floor watching TV. A commercial for Star Wars plays: Darth Vader’s face, then Luke and Leia swing on a grapple line.

These days I do not believe it was a psychic dream. The dream was a memory of seeing a commercial for the film, before its release. In the dream I am like three or four, younger than I was when I dreamed it — which explains my confusion. When I announced “I dreamed about this movie when I was little”, the truth was probably closer to, “Last week I dreamed I was a few years younger watching TV.”

But there’s something I can’t reconcile: the dream’s setting. It takes place in a house I wouldn’t live in until fourth grade. It would have been impossible to dream of that house before Star Wars came out. I have been confused about that dream my entire life. Confused — or psychic.

Box Turtle Clairvoyance, 4th Grade

I found a box turtle in the road. I brought it home, kept it in an open box in my room, and fed it vegetables. One day it escaped. Standing on its tippy toes, it went over the wall. And I could not find it. It had to be in the house somewhere, but I checked everywhere I could think of.

Then I remembered: I could use my psychic powers.

It was worth a shot. I sat cross-legged on my floor and assumed a meditative pose. I closed my eyes, cleared my mind. An image came: the turtle in a dark wooden corner. I pondered it: where was this space? It hit me — between my bed and the wall stood a wooden bookcase. I had books by the bed there, and my alarm clock — but the bottom shelf went unused, and it faced under my bed. I’d checked under my bed, but I realized I hadn’t checked very well. I looked and the turtle was in that dark, wooden corner. It was just like my vision, and I knew: I was psychic.

Dropped Psychic Shield Right Before a Car Crash, 7th Grade

Mom was driving me home from the orthodontist. I used to play a game when I was in the car that I didn’t tell anyone about: I imagined projecting a psychic shield around the vehicle, protecting it from accidents. The shield wasn’t telekinetically solid, more like it affected probability. When I had the shield up, the chance of an accident fell dramatically.

It was fun and I even believed it. But ultimately it was the self-soothing behavior of an anxious adolescent. And after I while, I couldn’t enter a car without projecting psychic shields, and that bothered me. I thought, “This is getting silly; I should stop playing this game so I can relax, they’re not real anyway.” So I let the shields down.

Within two minutes someone backed into the road from a driveway, and Mom T-boned them. Everyone was fine. We called a tow truck while I wrestled with the reality of my psychic powers.

False Positive #1

What became clear over the years was that my psychic powers were unpredictable, and therefore impractical. I might as well not have psychic powers at all. I was also subject to false positives.

For instance: in 8th grade I fell off my bike after almost getting hit by a truck. The wind was knocked out of me and I lay there, folks gathering around. I said to them, “I dreamed this … I dreamed this …” That’s when I heard somebody say, “OK, he’s in shock.” Later I realized: I had not dreamed it. The jarring near-accident set me to babbling is all. It was not psychic powers, it was shock-as-altered-state-of-consciousness.

False Positive #2

Years later in California I had another false positive. I was 25 or so, and I’d spent my young adulthood in a strictly scientific world view. But I kept dating women who were into astrology, and one of these temptresses got me reading New Age books. From there, my psychic powers manifested in synchronicity and intuition. I thought coincidence was the voice of the universe, and its cosmic meaning could be revealed by intuition.

I was trying to win the Xeric comic book grant so I could self-publish a project. I submitted my grant proposal and waited. Shortly afterward, I saw something random that reminded me of my comic book — and just like that, I thought the universe had confirmed I would win the grant. For the next several weeks I walked around so proud of myself for winning it. Then the list of winners came out and I wasn’t on it. That crushed me. The universe might be trying to say stuff, but my intuition was garbage. Grand synchronicity turned out to be mere coincidence. Psychic powers? Bah!

Telepathy with a Cat by a Trained Psychic

Around then, a buddy came to visit who was taking literal psychic classes in Berkeley. We ate mescaline. I tried to be open-minded to him as the trees stared with animistic faces from the park across the road. My friend explained the techniques he’d learned which all seemed ridiculous to me. Like, to try and get someone’s attention, he was taught to visualize giving them a rose. He demonstrated on the cat, who had her back to us, but sure enough she turned her head after he concentrated for a minute. He said, “See? I sent her a rose!”

I didn’t argue but I thought, “That was just a visualization exercise with no power over cats. Why does it have to be a rose? There’s no way to validate it and there never has been …” The classes he was taking were indistinguishable from a grift. I gave up on psychic powers completely.

Psychic Readings $5

Then I fell in love and got married. You guessed it, she was into astrology. I was newly against all that stuff, but we made it work for a minute. That New Year’s Eve my wife said, “Let’s get a psychic reading! It’ll be fun!” So I let her drag me there. It was a residential house with a sign out front: “Psychic Readings $5.”

We went in and met Miss Zelda or whatever her name was. First my wife got a reading done in Miss Zelda’s special reading room. I sat in the waiting room thinking about how broke we were, and how this $5 reading was really two readings, and we really needed that ten bucks. But I wanted to make wifey happy.

I got my reading done next. I asked Miss Zelda about my cartooning career since that was the only thing I wanted advice about. She told me I needed to change my priorities because my energy was all screwed up. (She probably said that to every skeptic.) Then she gave me a chance for an extra reading — a pay-whatever-you-want, extra special reading. I declined.

In the car on the way home, my wife said she had opted to get the extra reading. I asked, “Oh really? How much did you give her?” “Thirty bucks,” she said. I replied, “THIRTY BUCKS?!?”

Talk about a grift. The “extra reading” is clearly where the Miss Zeldas of the world make the big money. Psychic powers had officially become a pain in my ass.

Remote Viewing Bikini, Age 30

Fast forward a few years. My wife and I moved to Duluth and I made work friends. One of these was a co-worker I’ll call Mary. Mary and I had another work friend I’ll call Donna. And Donna and I each had a crush on Mary. Nothing serious, I was happily married. But Donna and I joked around about it. It was innocent fun among friends.

Mary had a day off, and I left work to take a break. On this break I idly thought, “I wonder how Mary would look in a bikini?” Which maybe doesn’t sound so innocent. But it was just a fleeting thought among many fleeting thoughts, and I paid it no mind.

When I went back into work, Donna said, “Hey, you missed it — Mary was just here in a bikini!”

An index of Jim Richardson’s essays can be found here.

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