Money & Careers

Opening Your Life to Magic

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We have followed Jennifer Cheyne through her years of discovery at Berkeley—she entered the university at 49, with the dream of someday studying at the Sorbonne. She is poised to fulfill that dream—she moves to Paris next month. Is this her presaged moment?


“Perhaps this very instant is your time—pretty late—but still your own, your peculiar, your promised and presaged moment, out of all moments forever.” ~ Louise Bogan


Has this ever happened to you?  It seems that every time you look at the clock, it’s 11:11 or 1:11, or even 4:44.  If it happens often enough, you start to think the universe is trying to get your attention.  For me, this was becoming so common, for a while there, that I was getting annoyed.  I’d mutter to the cosmos, “If you have something you want me to know, just say it!”

Last month, I was driving on Highway 13, here in Berkeley, and I mused about how that was a terrific number for me, despite the bad-luck connotations. It was my birthdate, and my son’s birthdate. A few moments later, a truck passed me and the number painted on its bumper was 1313. A minute after that, I glanced down at my odometer and my faithful old Mercedes had hit 111,111.1 miles.

See what I mean?

Finally, a few weeks ago, I woke twice from a deep sleep and glanced at the clock:  3:33 and then 5:55.  Enough, already.  I got out of bed and signed on to Google. There were a lot of different opinions, right down to the meaning of which numbers you keep seeing, but I liked best the one that said it was a message that I was on the right track somehow.

And then . . . all of it stopped! Since January 1, I’ve caught the clock only at ordinary time like 11:10 or 11:12. Oh dear. What did that mean? And then it hit me, an epiphany. I knew the meaning of it all.

If I saw 11:11, it meant that the time was eleven minutes past 11 o’clock;  11:12, and it was twelve after.  Aha!

Some time ago, I heard about a famous writer who had overslept and missed his flight on one of the planes that crashed on 9/11.  Journalists wanted to know if he felt that it meant he’d been spared for some special reason, and he said, “No, I miss planes all the time.” Just as, apparently, I look at clocks eleven minutes past 11 o’clock all the time.  Or at least I used to.

Because I had just reached the next phase of my life after graduating from college last month, I wanted to believe that this was, voilà, my promised and presaged moment.  Everything would come together now–love, money, and all manner of fabulousness. My clocks were constantly telling me how very right I was. When it all stopped with the new year, my spirits dipped. I became unsure, trying different things to get the numbers to reappear as they had, rather as one throws dice or pulls the slot machine lever “just so” in order to court Lady Luck. Until I remembered that actually, any time I decide to make My Time can be my time.

If one believes the idea that there has to be some external force that opens our lives to magic, it puts the locus of control outside ourselves. It’s rather like waiting for someone to love you, rather than being loving yourself. When I am imagining the future, sometimes my thoughts go so far down the road that anxiety is the inevitable result. Or else my head is in Paris or some city where I’m headed, or at whatever fabulous location my last ex happens to be that week (thanks, Facebook). It’s as if my internal eye is absent from the internal me. But the anxiety vanishes when I turn my attention back to this one spot right behind my breastbone.  You know it?  The spot behind where, if you press the palm of your hand against it, you immediately feel calmer. That’s where the magic lies—not out in the cosmos somewhere, with unseen forces deciding your luck.

If I turn my attention to that spot, I can see that from this moment in my life, there is a calm that never could have existed before now. All those old sibling issues are gone, the friends worth keeping are still here, and so much of the past that used to plague me has settled into a linear narrative instead of raw emotion.  My son is grown and the house is often quiet in a contented sort of way, and I can actually hear myself think.  Other times I’m in the midst of an over-full day and I look to that spot and know that I’m up to it. I have confidence and sagacity. And okay, maybe I’m a little sag-city, but mostly I’m–as one friend puts it–a total fox, but from the inside out instead of the other way around. I can feel that even my values have matured.  I’m less interested in the thrill of a quick triumph in life, and more gratified by the things and the relationships into which I’ve invested long-term.

I think, when I was younger, I might have looked to that internal spot and felt fear–but now, there is so much more “me” inside than there used to be. That primordial mom that we all psychically cling to is in there now. A file cabinet full of experience and self-knowledge, too. A woman needn’t seek support for her right to claim a moment as her own–she can make it so. Or better yet, she can make every moment her time.  If she has goals, she can sort out the steps one must take to attain them. If she wants love, money, and all manner of fabulousness, well, she can go and get it, or at least an agreeable version of it.  No signals from the universe required.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  Set my course, take those steps, and do my best to arrive. And it doesn’t matter if it’s eleven or twelve or even six minutes past 11 when I happen to check the time, because maybe, just maybe, it’s Jennifer o’Clock, now.  Yes, maybe it is.

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  • Jennifer Cheyne January 22, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Thank you so much, Dr. Pat and Ellen Sue! I hope Paris will reveal herself in ways that are interesting enough to make for good WVFC articles. I think she will.

  • ellen sue spicer-jacobson January 21, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Jennifer O’Clock! I love that. Best of all: “Like waiting for someone to love you rather than being loving yourself.” Quotable.
    Have a wonderful experience in Paris!

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. January 21, 2014 at 8:02 am

    WVFC and our readers are thrilled that it is “Jennifer Time” on the clock of your life. We look forward to hearing about your post graduation life and plans. You are so right about internalizing a loving mother with wisdom who is part of your maturity and growth. Good luck, Jennifer on the next part of your journey.