My father would pore over his books, wrapped meticulously, protectively, obsessively, in thick plastic scotch-taped to the insides. Books on astrology, philosophy, psychology, parapsychology, buddhism, zen buddhism, spirituality, religion, astral planes, mythology, enlightenment, UFOs. He fancied himself a scholar, an eminent expert on such matters. His library was extensive; his knowledge unparalleled.
And I believed him, of course, because children believe.
This, he said, pointing to a triangular-shaped figure on one of the many pages of my professionally-read horoscope, means you are destined for great things. You will be a leader, a prophet, a woman among men. And I believed him, as daughters will.
And when the astrology fails, what then?
When I find myself contemplative and alone, furnace humming in the dark, knowing that my potential for greatness is slipping silently away into the night and that one day I will cease to know anything at all and be lost and unremembered like all those other triangular-shaped figures destined for greatness and lost in a jumble of yellowing papers at the bottom of a box, I think back to my father's books and their plastic armour and I believe.
I believe in my body, in hunger and thirst and pain and sleep and sex.
I believe in fear and desire and sorrow and frustration and compassion and achievement and love.
I believe in the ultimate unknowability of things.
And sometimes, misguidedly, I believe that I am a leader, a prophet, a woman among men.