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?The Panda's Thumb

By Richard Unger

Reprinted from the Hand Analysis Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue 1

In The Panda's Thumb, Stephen Jay Gould makes the case, as he does in every one of his books I've read, that evolution is a random process, that to think there is any purpose or consciousness directing evolution is to fall into a fool's trap. Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins and 99.9% of the scientific community agree; how else to explain the inefficient, roundabout chain of events that characterize the history of this planet. Any 'Director of Evolution' would have done things differently.

Dawkins, especially, sees teleology (purpose driven evolution) as a thumb sucking crutch, a hole in the sand for those intellectual cowards too weak to deal with the existential truth of it all: that there is no ghost in the machine, no meaning other than that which we invent to please ourselves. Sagan is more eloquent, less condescending, but no less convinced. Embrace the void, he seems to say (and I wish him well, wherever in his journey he may currently reside).

I see their points, respect their science. But my experience with hands seems to insist on a different point of view. If I could pose just one question to these learned men I would ask if they can even conceive the possibility, entertain the notion, that maybe it is they who seek escape from a truth too overwhelming to contemplate; namely, that we do live in a purpose / consciousness driven Universe, that the no-ghost-scenario is itself a convenient retreat, a retreat from a level of personal responsibility too awesomely eternal for some to imagine. Perhaps a truly transcendent reality is one too searing for scientists to bear. But before I return to this point, I'd like to tell you a story.

Spiders, Drill Holes and Nail Polish

I don't know about you, but whenever I see a title like this one I can't help but try to figure out the connection. It's like listening to a joke: "A nun, a rabbi and a lawyer walk into a bar"...hmmm, what are the possibilities?

But I digress. My daughter was only nine at the time (she celebrated her 21st birthday last week so I dip deep into the mythology of my ancient past) when an obviously overwrought young woman came into my office for a reading. At first glance it seemed that any breeze might knock her over, but as she took her seat it became apparent that she was made of sterner stuff. She opened her hands, I turned on the tape recorder and entered the sacred space I am so privileged to have entered so many times before and since.

As my eyes adjusted to the map of her inner world, my focus was interrupted by an intruder: a spider walking across her palm. Not a scary, tarantula sized beast, more a cute lady bug like sweetie pie out for a stroll. My client gently directed our eight legged visitor to a nearby windowsill and returned her hands, palms up upon her lap, to resume her reading. But my eyes refused to register the lines in her palm and I remembered Palmistry Rule #16: Everything is part of the reading. OK, so what could a spider on the Mount of Jupiter (the area immediately below the index finger) possibly signify?

By this point in my hand reading career I had already read over 30,000 pairs of hands and it was no longer surprising when seeming accidental anomalies appeared. As a matter of fact, I had come to expect them. It is not as if I can explain to Richard, Carl or Stephen Jay the mechanism employed, but after so many cases I no longer doubted that if it is in their hands when they come in for a reading it's my job to tell them what it means.

Like the woman in Seattle with the raw stitches in her Venus (Goddess of Love) Mount who was just recovering from a painful divorce, or the Mill Valley man whose mother in law moved in (despite his protestations) and within minutes drilled a hole (accidentally of course) in the family / turf section of his power finger; each person tells me the story of how the marking accidentally and randomly came to be - yet there it sits in the exact location of their hands that precisely mirrors their inner state. OK, so I believe in omens. Call me superstitious. Report me to the Lamarkian Society of Non-Darwinian [R]Evolutionaries. It's just that one wound fits the reading perfectly, another would be out of place.

Who in Heaven's name is in charge of such occurrences? Who keeps the books? Who puts the piece of glass so precisely on the counter so that the cut, when it happens, appears just inside, not outside, the life line? The answer to these questions is beyond me, but I can say, with the same degree of certainty that I know that I am currently seated in this chair, that this has been the case over and over for more hands than I can recall.

So, a spider walks on Jupiter, what can this mean? I scanned my past life screen, my dream and literary symbolism data banks for clues, but drew a blank reply. Not unresponsive, merely blank, like a blackboard newly cleaned. I asked my client if the spider held any special significance in her life and she told me her story.

Nature's Master Weaver

She was a waitress, she said, or at least that is how she earned her living. It took a twelve hour day, five plus days a week, just to cover her expenses. Her drudgery left her too exhausted to pursue her true calling: weaving. Not just weaving, she explained, shamanic weaving. She made one of a kind works of art channeled expressly for each of her clients. One eventually graced my living room wall.

That was why she came for her reading, she went on. She wanted to weave and had not the time. The spider, nature's master weaver, was her power animal, and as such it meant a lot to her. And here she was having her hands read and her reading begins with a spider walking on the Jupiter Mount - the zone of ambition. Why, maybe I am not really necessary at all for these readings to take place, I'll just stay at home and let the animal kingdom do the readings for me.

What About the Nail Polish?

You remembered.

On Monday B.S.F. came in for a reading. I hadn't read her hands for several years and I was glad to see an old pal. She opened her hands and nail polish graced her upper thumb (right hand) and a small corner of the upper section of her ring finger. No need to discuss the details of her reading, just that when putting on her nail polish that morning it had dripped a bit and rather than cleaning it off, she deliberately left it there, the better to have her hands speak.

B.S.F. always asks me to look for that which she isn't paying attention to in her life and she saw the dripping polish as appropriate to the day's activities. My eyes riveted on the flecks of polish and the spider from twelve years ago made a return. I reported my interpretation of the nail polish, treating the imposed coloration of her right thumb and ring finger as if it mattered, as if it had somehow come from within. B.S.F. correlated my analysis with a rendition of her current circumstances that fit like a glove and now I had one more memory for my collection of the seemingly random that inexplicably held deep and precise meaning.

Is Random Really Random?

So that is my point: that which appears random (and actually is from one level of observation) is anything but random when viewed from another. You have to stand far enough away from the mosaic to see the pattern.

Time and again I report the life theme to my readee, readily visible in the fingerprints, only to hear back that although accurate, my analysis has been rendered out of date. They have divorced the no-good-nick, switched jobs, found God, etc. and that which I see is no longer relevant to their current life. Just a piece of their past, a random tidbit, not really what they came to find out about. But from my helicopter view of their life path, these random events (and the cuts and scars symbolic of them) are not random at all. Because if I can see these themes in their fingerprints, fingerprints that have not altered from approximately five months prior to their birth, how can the uncanny eventualities be totally arbitrary? Obviously, they are not. Oh yes, this particular relationship with this particular partner that included this particular event - that is not visible in their fingerprints. But whether they married this one or another, whether they lived in Palo Alto or Zanzibar, the details may differ, but the life lessons and life themes are there to see before their birth, waiting for the right moment to leap into three dimensional existence.

And if they are there in one's fingerprints, they are there for the entirety of one's life. The play is not over, the story has not played out. It awaits only a more subtle variation, a step up the spiral. Some new actors and actresses arrive on stage, some new props maybe; and the motif continues its unraveling in a new set of seemingly random events.

Destiny? Preordination? I think not. The Universe is too subtle, too beautiful, too extraordinary for so simple an explanation. But totally random and without meaning or purpose? The hands have taught me that at both the micro level (spiders, drill holes and nail polish) and the macro level (life lessons and life themes) the plane of existence we call ours and the events of our lives march to an often unheard drum beat. Listen carefully, however, and just maybe you may glean some measure of God's intention for your life on this Earth.