Twenty years ago, if you’d asked me what my gift was, I’d have said, “Nothing. I don’t have one.” But that changed one year when I went to London for the holidays to visit an elderly friend called Loveday. After dinner, we were sitting in front of the fire, and she took a Christmas card down from the mantle. It was from her brother. “Tell me what you see,” she said cryptically.
On the inside flap of the card were six lines of writing, scrawled in blue ballpoint in a somewhat flattened script.
“Er … he’s wishing you a happy Christmas,” I said uncertainly, returning the card to her. “Says he hopes to stop by in the New Year. Why’d you ask?”
“No, look closer,” she replied, giving it back.
I should add at this point that Loveday is a fully trained, fully diploma’d graphologist and has been for 40 years or more. In handwriting analysis circles, this woman is a star. She can give you penetrating insights about your life, enough to leave you breathless, just from the way you dot your i’s or loop your y’s.
“If the greeting could speak to you,” she went on, “what would it be saying?”
I was stubbornly insistent. “It doesn’t say anything. You’re the handwriting expert, not me.”
But she wouldn’t give up. She pushed the card over one last time. “Indulge me. Relax your mind and … what do you see?” I sat there staring at it for about a minute. Until something clicked.
Somehow, in that moment of unreadiness, a channel opened and I started talking. I suddenly knew a thousand things about Loveday’s brother. I’m not kidding — a thousand things I couldn’t possibly have known. They just leapt out of the card at me. About his childhood, his relationship with his parents, his marriage, his insecurities, his fears — it was all right there. I must have ranted for 40 minutes altogether, rattling off a torrent of details about a man I’d never met.
“Remarkable!” Loveday cooed at the end. “That’s him to a T.”
I was stunned. “But how did you know I could do it?”
I’ve asked her this same question many times since, without ever getting a satisfactory answer. She just felt I had a dormant gift, that’s all. An internal prompting drove her to push me to discover it.
And the gift is remarkably real and useful. At one point, I was even hired by the Smithsonian Institution to analyze the writing of an obscure eighteenth-century painter. Next day, I got an email from the department head saying that what I’d written in a few pages included everything they had been able to uncover during 15 years of research.
So who’s to say that we’re not all like that? That we each don’t have a dormant gift — one that, in many cases, we have yet to find and acknowledge?
Finding Your Destiny Points
I’ve long believed that we are not in charge of our own lives. We think we have free will, of course, and our egos tell us we make our own choices — and to a certain extent that’s probably true when it comes to the small, everyday decisions: Turn left or turn right? Eat a cheese sandwich or a salad? Buy a Dell or a Mac? But in the grander, overarching workings of life, I’m not so sure.
My feeling is that there are destiny points planted along the way for us to find. Threshold moments when a firmer hand takes the tiller and steers us invisibly in the direction of our higher good, hopefully with our consent … but not always. That’s what happened, I believe, on that fateful night with Loveday. Larger forces were at work. Unwittingly, she responded to a communiqué from Source. The only difference between Loveday and the rest of us is that, most of the time, whether out of fear, self-doubt, or arrogance or because of tribal conditioning, we dismiss such urges outright and pay no attention.
These nudges from Spirit can take two forms: the first is the intuitive push.
In 1987, I was riding up one of the escalators at King’s Cross Underground Station in London when I smelled burning. Reaching the ticket hall I found that a neighboring escalator, a rickety wooden thing dating back to WWII, was on fire. People were running for cover as gigantic tongues of flame licked the ceiling. For a while, I stood there watching. When, outside of a movie, do you ever witness anything like this? It was mesmerizing.
Then, amid this dream-like chaos, a small voice inside gave me an intuitive push. “Go,” it said. “Leave now.” Without waiting, I rushed out of the ticket hall and sprinted toward street level. As I was barely halfway up the steps, the draft from an approaching train down below fed oxygen to the flames, creating a massive fireball. With a loud explosion, a rocket of thick black smoke shot up the tunnel, engulfing me. I escaped with seconds to spare. The fireball completely gutted the station. Thirty-one people, including everyone I’d left behind me in the ticket hall, died that night. Had I overridden the prompting of my inner voice and stayed where I was out og natural curiosity, I’d have been one of them.
So you see, the intuitive push is a maneuvering device. It choreographs, it steers, making sure we’re in the right place at the right time, or at least not in the wrong place at the wrong time. But only if we pay attention.
The Call to Action
The other kind of prompting is the purposeful call to action. This one, too, you need to pounce on the instant you feel it. When Loveday insisted that I interpret the greeting on the Christmas card, she was being a courier, that’s all. Delivering a message from deep within her unconscious that told her I had this incredible talent. By not taking no for an answer, she was able to draw out that talent — one I would not have found otherwise but which has benefited many thousands of people since.
We may feel the “purposeful call” ourselves directly, or it may come from outside of us. Either way, it is designed to instigate and enable, shoving us in the right direction — a direction we might not even have considered up to that point. A gift doesn’t originate within us. It’s inspirational. It flows through us and out. We are merely vessels for it. And it can take on many forms.
Our gift may soothe, educate, and inform others, or please, inspire, and entertain them. It may be a gift for languages, or a gift for sports, a gift for music, for arranging flowers, for growing herbs, for sketching caricatures, or for healing. In all cases, though, we are being prompted to use this reserve of energy to serve the world in some higher way. It’s that special little thing we do that separates us from our neighbors and makes our existence worthwhile.
I recently completed a book about John of God, the phenomenal spiritual healer in Brazil. When interviewed about the miracles he performs, he always says the same thing: “It’s not me. I don’t do these things. It’s God working through me.” And I believe that. That’s his gift, to channel healing energy. After all these years, he’s easily rich enough to quit, but he doesn’t; he keeps going, tending to the thousands of sick and dying that arrive on his doorstep each year. Decades ago, he too received a purposeful call to action in the form of a blinding vision, during which his gift was revealed to him. Ever since then, he has been working non-stop, honoring that call.
By contrast, there are those who choose to ignore their gift and do something else instead. A friend of mine, for instance, is a brilliant builder and handyman. He can fix or install anything. But this is not glamorous enough for him; he wants to be an actor. He yearns to star in movies. So that’s what he does — he acts, and he’s really bad at it … which is why he’s not successful.
You simply can’t live out someone else’s dream and make it your own. Try it, and your life will never feel right or go right. Instead, find and acknowledge your personal gift, however humble it might seem. Nurture it; hone it. Then “stay in your lane,” as Oprah says. Don’t worry that other people seem to have more attractive gifts, or that there’s no money in what you do. Your task is to find ways to use the thing that makes you special to benefit others. Fulfill that remit, and your rewards will come.
Connecting to Native Energy
This has been especially true for me. As unlikely as it seems, I now accept interpreting handwriting as a vital part of my calling.
Actually, that’s wrong. I don’t interpret it. Rather, I sense its native energy.
As soon as your handwriting sees me, it starts acting up. Daft as it sounds, individual letters bend and crouch, point and stretch, or jump up and down, begging for a chance to spill the beans about you, your problems, your insecurities, your leftover childhood traumas, whatever’s going on. It’s fascinating.
A lower case t, for instance, is a sign of sincerity. When written strongly, it means the writer is in touch with his feelings and expresses them well. However, if the horizontal slash doesn’t cross the t, but rather glances off it like a spark, then he is capable of great insincerity and may even be ruthless. People with jobs that require them to act without becoming emotionally involved, such as lawyers or nurses, often have t’s like this.
Similarly, I discovered, that people whose s’s are open are flexible and ready for anything. Whereas when the top of the s is wrapped around itself or closed off, it means they’re stubborn, unyielding, and fixed in their ways, which often closes them off to great possibilities. And, just as interesting, if the bottom of the s loops around to cross back over the s’s middle, it tells me that their impetuous nature and their mouths are their downfall. They speak first, think later.
And on it goes. Thousands of revealing twists and turns. This is not graphology, I’ve decided. Graphology is the study of handwriting, and I’ve never studied it. Yet according to my friend Loveday, I’m naturally better than most graphologists. If anything, what I do is akin to psychometry — feeling the vibe of the person and mirroring it back at him. Whatever you call it, though, it’s a gift I didn’t ask for but one which I accept and at which I am astonishingly adept.
In 2005 I appeared on The View. I remember doing the handwriting of Meredith Vieira (one of the co-hosts back then) and saying to her off-screen, “You need to get out of here. You’re frustrated and destined for much bigger things.”
“You’re right,” she whispered, “but don’t tell anyone.” A few months later, she quit and moved to The Today Show.
Personal readings can be just as fulfilling. Only recently, for instance, I analyzed the writing of an eminent psychiatrist with advanced multiple sclerosis. To my astonishment — and his — I found I was able to tell him why he had MS and what he might be doing in life that was stopping him from getting well. Using this information, he went off and made key changes, and now he already looks 10 years younger. It made a world of difference.
So what’s your gift? What are you being prompted to do? Have you received your call to action yet, or are you aware of what it might be but too scared to embrace it? All I know for sure is that everyone has something to offer. We each have a contribution to make. Find your point of service and then get out and do it. You may yet change the world.