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2020 Hindsight as Foresight

November 30, 2020

I can’t remember how far back our family adopted the old British tradition of opening Christmas crackers when sitting down for our holiday meal. The festive poppers usually contain a colored tissue-paper crown and a small toy and are sold in novelty stores. In spite of the fact that the kids are now adults, we still eat wearing these silly regal hats every year.

In 2014, the cracker took on a new meaning for me as, of all things, a divination tool. That was the year everyone around the table opened their popper to discover that each Christmas cracker had been packed by the manufacturer with the same plastic toy houses in different colors. In the mysterious moment where intuition and divination intersect and with no plans to leave the house we’d lived in for sixteen years, I immediately knew a move was ahead. By the following Christmas, all eight people (who lived in four different homes at the time) had changed their residences.

Can a Pier One novelty product predict the future like tarot cards or an I-Ching reading? What is it with our fascination with wanting foresight and trying to make sense of things in hindsight? Before this, we’d never received the same toy in our cracker/poppers. They seemed about as significant as the prizes buried in the sugar-laden cereals I ate as a kid. More interesting, was the fact that the tiny light-blue house that dropped onto my fine-china dinner plate in 2014 looked exactly like a small painting a student had given me nine months earlier to celebrate a nature-based healing workshop I offered for the first time from my home office. He’d given it to me knowing how travel weary I was after many years teaching on the road.

My blue toy house was also a replica of what appeared in the sky and clouds over my head during a vision-quest exercise in the Andes of Peru that same autumn. My guides on that trip were indigenous wisdom keepers who live in mountains they consider hallowed and are said to open the vision of visiting pilgrims. Their ancestors established villages there at high elevation after fleeing their homes in the Sacred Valley, escaping the Spanish conquistadors who arrived to decimate their culture with their greed for gold. The diseases the Europeans carried to the South American people tore through their tribes like an epidemic.

In the years since 2014, my family has playfully mocked what I’ve come to make of our Christmas ritual. Their teasing hasn’t foiled my anticipation for seeing what pops out of the cracker each year, whether its source is meaningless chance, mere entertainment, or a play of consciousness and meaning-making that helps ease the human angst of uncertainty that is simply a part of all of our lives.

Enter December 2019.

My Christmas cracker prize last year was a tiny book of numbers, a game called “The Mystery Calculator.” Of course, at the time, I had no idea of the symbolic blend of coincidental foresight and sardonic humor the message held as 2020 unfolded, the year no one could have predicted. Nothing has been business as usual. We’ve been encouraged by circumstance to seek the shelter of our homes, not from epidemic, but pandemic. We’ve experienced a mountainous divided-nation rather than a unifying divine-nation. We continue to flee a plethora of these and more threats at the threshold of the twenty-first year of the twenty-first century. With varying degrees of ease and/or dis-ease, we’ve learned what it’s like to live immersed in uncertainty.

Or is it that everything has always been uncertain and we’ve simply convinced ourselves the opposite is true? Only the Mystery Calculator knows for sure!

2020 Hindsight as Foresight_Calendar

The famous phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20,” suggests things are clearer or more obvious when remembered than at the time they take place. When looking back, we assemble lists of lessons learned, appreciations and/or regrets, and perhaps even an occasional eureka moment of insight that invites a whole new way of thinking and ushers in a refreshed reality for the future.

For me, 2020 has been a year of facing mystery, uncertainty, and one highly destructive storm and befriending all the surprises, even when deeply disturbing. It’s been a time of leaving no stones unturned, while being equally aware of the immovable rocks that dot the landscape of my life like an obstacle course and choosing to use them as stepping stones in my failure to lift them up, turn them over, or cast them aside.

In hindsight, I get to decide the story I tell about 2020. It’s best I make it a good one. That is the best predictive influence I have in the face of any unknowable future and in the uncertain months of 2021 that lie ahead.

As for the Mystery Calculator birthed by a Christmas cracker? I discovered recently while examining it more closely that the Mystery Calculator is actually a mathematical party trick. The purveyor of the game accurately “predicts” a number that a player chooses (and keeps secret) from a set of six cards with numbers printed on them in a seeming random order. Revealed in hindsight, to player and purveyor, is that the Mystery Calculator creates predictable outcomes for the party pilgrim and foresight seeker one hundred percent of the time.

Pat Heavren is a life coach, mediator, and educator who is passionate about supporting individuals, couples and groups to flourish by aligning with the wisdom of the natural world. She is the author of Magic in Plain Sight: When Acceptance is the Healing and is former senior teaching faculty with the Four Winds Society, an international school of neo-shamanism and energy medicine. Pat has led workshops across the U.S., Canada and Latin America and works worldwide with clients via telephone and Zoom from her Woodbridge, CT, office.
She can be reached at: and 203.444.4424 for appointments.