In the late 1980s, Rob and I had the good fortune of knowing several Fort Lauderdale psychics – all of them deceased now. One evening, we were at Tony Grosso’s home in nearby Pembroke Pines. Tony was a real eccentric, a powerful empath, a gay man who didn’t want anyone to know he was gay. Artist and psychic Renie Wiley was also there.
Tony had a unique system for his readings that involved color and he and Rob eventually co-authored a book on color divination, The Rainbow Oracle. Renie had worked as a psychic consultant with local cops and we wrote a piece on her for Fate Magazine called Psychic Detective. But on that particular evening, we were just four people intrigued by what the future might hold for us – as individuals, as a human collective. Renie suggested that she progress us into the future to see if we could pick up anything on what life would be like.
Renie was a Sagittarian, a physically tall and imposing woman who also happened to be my astrology mentor, the woman who taught me stuff you don’t find in books or on websites these days. For her, astrology was an art, ancient and sacred. She read our daughter’s chart when Megan was just three days old and I have to say that much of what she said has transpired. But that’s for another post.
Whenever the four of us got together, weird stuff evolved, things none of us had anticipated. That evening, I remember, we were talking about what the world might be like in 20 or 30 years or even beyond. Renie said, “Well, guys, let me progress you into an undetermined future and let’s see what you pick up.”
So that’s what she did. She had a beautiful voice, soft, hypnotic, and as she spoke, I suddenly saw myself as a very tall woman – bald – living in a dome because the external world was so toxic. Life in the dome wasn’t exactly a panacea – bureaucracy abounds in every time frame, it seems – and there were outliers who lived in caverns outside the dome whose lives had evolved quite differently.
The dome scenario was confirmed a couple years after that progression when I ran across a book by Chet Snow and Helen Wambach, Mass Dreams of the Future. Wambach, a psychologist, had progressed 2,500 individuals in Europe to 2100 and asked them to describe what their lives were like. In the three scenarios that emerged, the population of the planet was greatly reduced. In one scenario, survivors lived in huge domes that protected them from the air outside.
This progression has always stuck with me. And this summer of hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, Maria, all either cat 4s or 5s- and the quakes in Mexico and Japan and elsewhere – suggests that we’re in the beginning throes of climate change. The kind of climate change that drives people inland in droves because it’s no longer safe to live on the coasts.
As Irma approached Florida as a cat 5, with the early forecasts taking her up Florida’s east coast, we decided we should evacuate to Atlanta, where my sister lives. But gas was scarce and the idea of getting stranded on the interstate scared me. So we opted for a friend’s place north of Orlando. We had enough gas to get there. I removed everything from our walls, wrapped stuff in garbage bags, found high spots for Megan’s paintings. In the end, we decided to stay.
Friends who evacuated said it took eight hours to get to Orlando (a drive that usually takes about 2.5 hours), and 18 hours to reach southern Georgia. Cars ran out of gas on the turnpike and were abandoned. At one point, when Irma’s winds reached 185 mph – and stayed there for 36 hours, breaking all kinds of records – we figured we’d made a big mistake by not evacuating.
The largest evacuation in U.S. history was underway.
As Irma closed in on Cuba, she stayed on its coast longer than expected and made that northward turn later than forecasts had predicted – and that saved Florida’s east coast. But it tore apart Florida’s west coast, then turned inland as a cat 1 and the eye went over Orlando.
When natural disasters happen back to back, as Harvey and Irma did and, later, Maria and the Mexican quake, the psychological and psychic toll it takes is considerable. Your body slams into survival mode. And for me, standing on the back porch during parts of Irma and listening to and seeing the wind and rain tear through our yard, I wondered about the dome in that progression so many years before. And I knew I had my next novel.
What is life like in these domes, centuries in the future?