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                    and the


For many, 

the concept of 

 the paranormal is 

  entertaining, but fiction. 

   For these people, the X-Files, 

    Poltergeist or Carrie will offer 

     nothing more than a passing escape 

     from the real world. But those who have 

     the so-called "gift" often lead lives fraught 

   with self-abuse and isolation. Haunted by second 

sight, their reality is inescapable. "Walking the Third Road" details one such formidable existence. Submitted to Jaywalker 

by Kingston writer and artist Eriana Letaine Marcus, this brief, topical autobiography tells us, with great candor, of the hardship that clairvoyance brings.


Walking the Third Road

By Eriana Letaine Marcus


There are pieces of paper everywhere.


It has always been so, for as long as I can remember.  From an early age and for many years to follow – I opted to sleep on the floor... it was easier to reach out in the dark for a scrap of paper to write a dream, sketch a design, scribble a message told to me at 3 am.

I sleep in nests of papers and cats.  

Moments of inspiration are scribbled on cigarette packs, torn paper edges, anything handy.  Piles of papers, years are stacked on my dresser, tucked in books, filling a desk drawer and boxes in closets. Tears, love, anger, inspiration and revelations of a spirit; unfinished poems of grief...on the floor, when I ran out of words – when words could not touch, the untouchable.  They remain there, unedited; because if there is one thing that I have discovered is that the next 30 seconds can change your life around.  It’s going to be all very different if you take too long to think about it – or finish it. The moment will be gone.  

I was going to write about the ‘artist and adversity’; those pages are written on blue and green papers, somewhere on the floor around my bed.  

Adversity, like everything else on life’s journey, is a matter of perspective. Personal perspective: How we see our life, what choices we make, and what we make of the balance between the choices and that which challenges us.  

Like anything, it is the ‘double edged sword’.

A friend who is a Buddhist monk, another who was my first Reiki teacher, and a few Native Elders told me these things: That I was born with my lights on, that I walked on the lines between worlds, and that I could commune between both. Simple words of confirmation, of recognition of me, that describe the great gift and struggles of my walk here this time.


I remember being born. My mother and I were not supposed to survive the birth, but we did. I spent close to 11 months in the womb, and when emerging wondered why they were taking me away from her - she needed me. Such is a bond that stretches centuries or more - I believe this. Still my mother and I have the same dreams, all the time, of being in different places together.


As a child I was quiet and serious. I preferred to be alone, with only the company of animals, trees and bugs. I spent most of my time in the nearby swamp, or walking miles to find remote quiet places.  I could spend an entire day in one area studying the rocks and plants, and talking to the snakes and whoever else would approach me. 

I had trouble with humans, however. There was too much information. I would constantly finish people’s sentences, know what they were going to do next, or get a sense of emotion from them. I was afraid of most people and would hide in closets. Getting me into school was tricky business that took years because I wouldn’t come out of the cloakroom. The second try involved me trying to calm down two arguing sisters in kindergarten, and witnessing one of the sisters cut the other’s throat with a pair of scissors. I ran. Under the fence like a little fox I went home to my mother and stayed.

I was drawing and painting and beginning to play musical instruments at the age of four, and I knew at this age with most certainty that I wanted to be an artist; nothing else would do. My best childhood memories are of my mom and I doing artwork together. Peaceful moments were either spent with art, or in any wild secluded place I could find.  

The school system finally gave up on the social introduction and plopped me into grade one. In spite of the fact that I stared out the window, constantly watching the cloud people, and was often ridiculed by my teacher, I was moved to special advance classes; going from grade one to grade five in about two and a half years 

With others, I was the “Strange one”; and more so because I would befriend the “outcasts”. With these “outcasts”, I saw a quiet light. Gentle, quiet souls who I would share timeless moments with. I have pictures in my mind, like old sepia photographs of memories of people who had love; and nothing else. A young woman of the age of ten who looked after her mother dying of cancer, and would serve you black tea and toast like you were a member of the Royal Family, come to visit.


I saw things that others cared not to: the great beauty and pain of the world. In many ways I saw; and still see too much. I was aware of energy and vibrations. This makes me a natural for the gifts of Reiki and therapeutic touch. On the other hand, being around large groups of people is at times even physically painful to me.


As I child I knew one kindred spirit: My best friend was named Richard. I knew him in this world from the age of seven to near the age of eleven. He lived in the country, so all of our times together were always special and rare and spent in the deep woods.  We were very much the same: being great lovers of nature, we would turn from lamb to lion in a heartbeat if we saw anyone hurting an animal or tree. Animals would follow him everywhere.  

On the morning of his 11th birthday he was returning all the animals to the barn for safety when a speeding car hit him.  

Richard came to see me on his way from this realm to the next and said he had some things to show me. We went on a journey; he opened my awareness even further. And then he told me not to worry about him, that he had things he had to do. The hardest part of the grief was that I was so young; and didn’t dare tell any adult what I knew. I was really alone.  

I became silent and began writing my experiences, emotions and perspectives in poetry. Teachers called my parents in for talks about getting me into special schools for journalism or art; but life was chaotic. In the next three years I would lose two more friends in car accidents, and four family members - only one to a natural death; and my parents would split when I was fourteen years old. My overly mature self was not able to stop the deaths I could predict; looking after my grandfather everyday after school did not prevent him from killing himself; and my mediations between my mother and father had not helped.  

I became anorexic. I had failed. I began to feel like I didn’t deserve to be here, and didn’t care. I now held the opinion that speaking was a waste of time, and moved like a ghost through high school. I would stay in the art room every night until eleven pm. Teachers gave me keys, and the janitors would watch me paint. I lived for art; it was a reason to breathe.  

Certain teachers went out of their way to invent curriculum that would challenge me. I was ‘skipped’ grades in high school in the arts, music and languages. At the age of fifteen I finished high school and was offered  a full scholarship for an art college in Toronto. I had to turn it down; and I think now that I punished myself for that decision for many years. The years that followed, filling my twenties and thirties, were spent running from one abusive relationship to the next trying to save people; and filling my days with work and my nights with schooling. None of my old artwork exists- the images that I lived for and my musical instruments were destroyed by the two people that I lived with.  

I remember sitting, looking out the window watching the sparrows; wishing I was free, just like them… and then my ‘boyfriend’ painted the windows black. At seventeen years of age, I felt 80- I was already tired.  

I tried to block my gift with alcohol, drugs, starvation, and adopting alien behavior. Thank goodness I was not entirely successful at this, for the gift and the visions often saved me from great danger. I always knew when to run.  

Then time stopped. Something shifted and I became ill - and unemployed for the first time since I was seven. I sat at my best friend’s hospital bed for a year and watched Judi move, gracefully, from this world to the next. The gift within me awoke as if to answer a great call. I began to paint again for the first time in 13 years.

I changed my life - and that’s when I met Richard.  

A kindred soul, and a soul mate… one of the first things he said to me was, ”I’m here to help you remember how to fly”… How familiar those words were…and with his help I stopped my frantic running and began to heal myself.  

I am now living with persistent panic disorder that doctors say will be a permanent condition. It has been determined that I have struggled with “social phobia’ my entire life. I can no longer walk by myself and will probably never ride my bike again. I have been forced to slow down to see myself and my part in creation.  

Did adversity bring me down, or bring me home?  

I know my truth. I am a part of the sacredness of the world, the earth, the water and wind. Am I a disabled social phobic; or a sensitive and empathy, healer and artist?


I see the beauty and the pain of the world .I let myself cry a lot. The trees and the wind talk to me, because I hear them. I have decided to do my art for myself. The world still howls threats at my door, but I refuse to waste my energy. I will never again mask myself, bury my art and myself: I choose to be aware, and never again will I ignore any of my gifts.  

My lifelong confusion of being a member of the human species- those that destroy- occasionally gets a gentle breath from other kindred souls. And so, I have decided that, for me, the gift of being human is the ability to create, paint, sing, write … and maybe I can make a difference after all; if only to support others like me.  

I sleep in nests of papers and cats. I watch the sparrows every morning - they remind me of joy and freedom.


This is dedicated to Judi, who showed me how to break the cage; to Richard, who reminded me how to fly; and to Amy and Mousy, who saw me through it all, and saved my life many times.


                                   Eriana Letaine Marcus

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