In the Jewish tradition when a child reaches the age of thirteen he or she becomes a man or woman through a religious rite of passage called a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. This ritual usually takes place in a synagogue and requires the terrified adolescent to read Hebrew from the Torah and sing in the religious service. There is usually a celebration afterwards in the afternoon or evening. I read hands at dozens of these celebrations each year ranging from modest family gatherings to multi-million dollar extravaganzas. I work with the world’s best magicians, caricaturists, and entertainers at these events. I’m the Psychic (it’s entertainment) with my lighted magnifying glass. Over half a century after my own Bar Mitzvah, these kids are calling me Gondolf, Dumbledore, and Merlin (works for me).
Kids queue up for their five-minute hand reading. I try my best to pinpoint their strengths, weaknesses, and pressing issues. Some kids don’t take what I do seriously, frivolously asking, “What’s my boyfriend’s name?” or “Am I going to win the game or pass the test?” It gets tiring after several hours. When they get too demanding, I have to remind them that I’m not one of their servants. The parents make a huge fuss over the Bar Mitzvah kid on this special day. Numerous large flat screen TVs project idealized family memories for all the guests to see. Mom and dad give brilliant speeches about how incredible their child is and how proud they are of him or her. Then at some point during the party the kid comes to see me. Many of these kids have everything but what they need the most (it’s not stuff). What we’ve all been seeing on those huge screens is a distorted snapshot of the truth. Some kids are healthy, others are emotional basket cases (disasters waiting to happen), and their parents don’t have a clue. I sometimes ask kids to bring their parents over so that I can chat with them discretely about what I’m seeing. You would think it would be an inappropriate setting for real counseling, yet they usually appreciate my being frank with them.
I used to say to my palmistry students, “It’s not what you see, but what you say and how you say it that matters”. It’s amazing how many kids ask, “Will I be rich and famous?” In response to a Thinking type, I may ask, “Will satisfaction and fulfillment in your relationships and career be enough for you?” I might say to a Feeling type, “You’ll look back one day and realize that your greatest riches resulted from being vulnerable and intimate with your family and friends.” I may tell an Intuitive type, “If you don’t feel inspired or passionate about whatever you choose, all the wealth and fame in the world won’t matter.” If the question comes from a Sensation type, I’ll ask, “What’s your plan?” In my charitable work, I sometimes examine the hands of sick, impoverished, or homeless kids. They rarely ask about fame. Instead, I hear, “Am I going to be OK?”
One evening I watched as an entourage’ of kids accompanied their friend to his hand reading. He looked like a little businessman in his very expensive designer suit and tie. He was a Sensation type with small soft square palms and short pudgy fingers. It was obvious that he had never done a lick of physical labor. One kid enthusiastically addressed me, “Do you know who he is?” To me, he was a kid with various talents, abilities, and challenges. Turned out, he was a son of one of the wealthiest families in the world. I asked his hovering entourage’ to quietly back off while I spoke to him about working harder to express his true feelings and about learning to behave more naturally. I could see from his eyes and body language that I wasn’t getting through. It was more important to put on a good show for his friends than listen to me.
At the end of the evening, he came back by himself and sat down as if we had never met. I tried to reach out to him again, offering the same advice. As soon as I finished, he exclaimed, “I fooled you. You already read my hands.” “I know who you are” I countered, identifying his family name. “I’m going to offer you some very valuable free advice”. I looked directly into his eyes while firmly holding his hands. “Your money doesn’t make you better than anybody else. Your power is unearned. You’ll grow up and be old one day, just like everyone else. You’ll have relationship, work, and health challenges and problems. What’s important is for you to decide what you truly value. How do you plan to use your abundant resources to create positive differences around you?” He slinked away with rounded shoulders. I hope I made a meaningful impression.
Values are relative. Everything has value. Everything and nothing are identical in nature, but different by degree. The billionaire dying of cancer would gladly trade his wealth for youth and good health. The famous opera diva whose child is brain damaged, would gratefully scrub toilets in Grand Central Station if it would bring her child back to good health. What and how much do we have to lose before we learn to value what we already have or have taken for granted? It’s in our hands…