Cognitive biases fascinate me. Mental shortcuts that occasionally fuck us over are a side-effect of human intelligence, rather than sloppy evolution. If we had to work everything out about every single thing each and every bloody time we did something then we’d never get out of bed. It would be too hard.
One interesting cognitive bias is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. It’s a frequency illusion where you discover something you previously hadn’t heard of, and then when it appears again you end up paying more attention to it than you normally would have because it’s in your head and you’re unconsciously looking out for it. It’s kind of annoying when it’s an idea you had and people pay more attention to the one that came after, but such is life.
All our ideas belong to each other, anyway. We’re all capable of coming up with anything, and we’ll never run out of dreams. Some people live their entire lives without realising this, though. Some people just exist, and barely give a first thought to their potential – let alone a second. But what’s worse: never noticing it at all, or knowing it’s there and being too afraid to use it?
I get ideas from ridiculous places. My only use for fortune-telling devices these days is inspiration in one form or another – or as something to help me make my mind up when I’m really torn between options. I don’t read fortunes for people anymore. It makes me sad that they pin their hopes on me giving them good news because they’re stuck in a life they don’t want to be living, and instead of seeing a therapist and making some goals and lifestyle changes they go and see a tarot reader and cross their fingers for someone tall, dark and handsome.
I should have come with extra disclaimers. I was always the bringer of bad news in my family, like some kind of manic freckled harbinger of doom. People didn’t like it when I called them because it meant someone had died or was in the middle of snuffing it. It’s not like I enjoyed making those calls, squinting at tiny phone numbers in a little black book my grandad kept in his wallet, but my family still believe I’m a bad omen. I just let them continue to believe in the weird little mythical status they’ve bestowed upon me. It keeps them away.
I gave people bad news if the cards looked bad, even though you’re apparently not supposed to. But you can’t lay out The Tower and a bunch of Swords and say: ‘I foresee a mysterious stranger, most likely a Piscean’ when the cards blatantly have pictures of dead people and a big house burning down on them. People look so disappointed when you don’t tell them what they want to hear, though. I had to pack my little parlour trick away.
The first person I shared a flat with in Newcastle kept asking me to read the cards for her, because my friend had casually mentioned that I used to do it. I said no. I didn’t really like the woman anyway (for many, many reasons), and it was hard enough just trying to live with her without adding in cartomancy stress, but the main reason why I said no was because she was too desperate for someone to fall in love with her and save her.
Love won’t save you, Padmé.
She had a terrible habit of keeping her bedroom door open while she was on the phone and then talking really loud as though she wanted me to hear. I overheard her one night on the phone to a psychic. I asked her about it and she said he was her friend. I asked if she still had to pay premium rates to talk to her friend. She said yes, before telling me all the things her ‘friend’ said was going to happen between her and the new love she would meet in the near future. Just because one person doesn’t capitalise on another’s hopeless desperation doesn’t mean that no one else will. Even ‘friends’.
Things do happen for a reason. Everything is caused by something. Divination is a placebo for overdramatic hopes and fears – at best, the cards inspire a person to act and they achieve their outcome by means of a self-fulfilling prophecy but, at worst, they make people miss opportunities because they’re waiting for what the cards said would appear. People want to believe in the supernatural so badly that they convince themselves they really do believe. Rose-tinted reality blinkers.
Love can save you, but you have to give it away for the sake of it, whether it comes back to you or not – and salvation might not appear in the form you were expecting. Just like dreams, we can never run out of love. It’s not the end of the world if you lose a little bit.
Who needs magic when we can think about each other at the same time and feel exactly what the other is feeling? No one else in the world has a secret exactly like ours. There’s no explanation for us. We just are.