Indulge me for a moment while I briefly discuss sports. American sports. Specifically, American football. I promise I’ll make it brief.
In 2008, the New England Patriots went to the Super Bowl, facing the New York Giants. New England waltzed into the Super Bowl having not lost a single game in the entire 16 game regular season, giving them a 18-0 record going into the big game. New York was facing this undefeated team after squeezing into the playoffs as a wildcard with a regular season record of 10-6.
Needless to say, the Patriots were heavily favored to win the Super Bowl. Yet New York was able to beat them in the big game 17-14.
Here’s my belief in the outcome of that game. Had the Patriots lost a game in the regular season they would have probably won the Superbowl.
Nobody save the psychological masochist or the celebrated victim likes to lose. Losing rends from us the last shred of self-confidence we clung to for survival during our final battle. The higher the stakes of the contest, the harder the gut punch we receive with a loss.
The biggest losses we experience, or let me be so bold to say nearly every loss we experience, comes through necessity. When we experience defeat it is a defeat that is necessary and often overdue. The loss tells us that our current trajectory of growth has plateaued, that there was really nothing more for us to gain with a win, and that it is our destiny to rediscover ourselves.
Does a win compel us to look inward to the degree that a loss does? Does one win create as great of an appetite for victory as does our most recent defeat? Now mind you, this is not to say we should make sure we lose or that we should deliberately lay down our swords in the midst of combat just for the sake of experiencing a loss. Au contraire, we should play to the hilt even knowing the odds are stacked against us, for when we lose in light of this, our loss creates an even greater opportunity for us to grow, beyond where we would have otherwise.
Someone’s parent or teacher or pastor or guidance counselor probably gave them this advice at some point: It was something to do with making clear logical decisions by setting aside one’s emotions. Yeah, I don’t know about that.
That’s all fine if you want to don a lab coat and tote a clipboard around (or is it a laptop these days? Probably a tablet, I’d guess…). Decisions devoid of an emotional influence are best made with control groups and data sets.
I am an advocate of making emotionally-based decisions. Before you start pecking at me like a bunch of territorial crows, let me flush this out: I believe how one feels about the outcome of a decision, paired by one’s truest desire, provides for the absolute purest compass for the direction to take.
I’m not talking about that kind of flailing-wildly-in-a-state-of-panic type of emotion. That’s what comes to mind for many people when referencing the idea of deciding by feelings. I would be so bold to say that fear and panic are more reactions than emotions. They are more byproducts of the klaxon of the adrenal medulla figuring out how to get the heart out of a box on fire. The ensuing actions we take due to panic are rarely based on any thought whatsoever during episodes of an epinephrine surge.
The clearest decisions we can make are the ones that trace directly back to what we want. This is actually the trickiest part, as our truest desire is often layered and stacked and dogpiled with several other subsidiary wants. Many of these are based on what we think we are supposed to want, gifted to us by cultural expectations, social mores, and all things obligatory. We will find many of these lesser wants battling it out, vying for psychological dominance.
At some point, we need to strip away all of the little wants that are in essence superfluous in the background of our true desire. We have to distill down to the single most emotional intention that catches that glint of light in our solar plexus. We have to identify what we want most as it is left standing on its own after clearing away all the emotional flotsam and jetsam, leaving only the purest of aspirations. It is from here that we make the best, clearest, and most focused decisions, and these are the decisions that yield to us the greatest growth and success.
I need to preface this post with a disclaimer: normally when the Death key comes to the surface in a reading, I take pause in going straight to that Chicken Little reaction of someone’s going to die! Most Tarot readers and students know that Death doesn’t necessarily mean anyone’s mortal coil is about to unwind any more than The Devil means Satan is going to show up unexpectedly to your dinner party or that The Lovers means you’re going to meet Mr. or Ms. Excellent or that The Hermit means you’re about to go out and buy a vinyl copy of Led Zeppelin IV.
However, as a Tarot reader that has instilled in myself to be cognizant as to what on a card might draw my attention during a given reading, today I found myself drawn to the two towers behind the boy in this rendition of the card. I was pretty sure I remember it from the Rider Waite, but I went and referenced it anyway to be sure… yep, they’re in there too.
I wonder how many of you are thinking of where I’m headed, or if you yourselves have gone there at any point in time. My mind quickly went the the fateful day of September 11, 2001, an eternal blight on the collective consciousness of the United States, and to some degree, the rest of the world.
I’m not going to go all David Icke meets Nostradamus at a Masonic dinner party here. I’m not going to fold dollar bills presciently or convert 9-1-1 into specific foreboding font symbols. I just can’t help but reflect on the degree of death focused in a single time and place that occurred on 9-11-2001. I’d say it is just a coincidence that it shows in this card, but…
Let me not digress into too many stories of Archons and Reptilians and Annunaki and ruling elite family cabal globalists. Rather, I want to look at what came to mind as I see the Ingalls family play out in Tarot syndication on the card to the right. I want to look at the juxtaposition of the big mean spooky boogeyman of the Tarot abreast it.
Here’s the thing: In talking about the tragedy that irrevocably tore our society asunder fifteen years ago this year as I write this, I do think about the symbol that Death is intended to convey in the Tarot. I see the Ten of Cups talking about what is on the other side of the door or river or chasm or realm or Van Allen belt or veil, that it is a glory, a jubilation, a realization of a reward when the new life is attained and realized.
When I put this in relation to that horrific memory and image that that fateful tragedy invokes, I ask myself where the rainbow is. How have we grown to become better people, better human beings, better members of society? It is a highly debateable idea by many that the Holocaust brought about a raising of consciousness of sorts, an awakening of the self-awareness of humanity within that was long dormant, that could only be jarred awake through such an extreme atrocity. Viktor Frankl, himself a Holocaust survivor, echoes this to some degree in his book Man’s Search For Meaning.
Yet here we are, a decade and a half after the September 11 attacks and I have yet to see any lotus bloom growing out of the mud. We invest inordinate amounts of time and energy putting “security” measures in place that are intended to make us feel more safe yet have the unintended (debateable by conspiracy theorists) effect of making us feel less safe. We have discarded the notion of personal privacy offhandedly. We have added another race, religion, and culture to our collection of Them that are out to get Us. We immediately release the hounds to sniff out the extremist Islamic group du jour after the town cry of every newscaster generated by an attack upon a group of people like a war vet reacting to a car backfiring.
I’m waiting to see us arise from the horror and tragedy of that event into a place where we see our unity and interconnectedness, where the deaths of those 3000 victims of the event and the resulting deaths 100 times greater in number from the reaction to the event are not in vain. I can’t see a burgeoning police state with its Orwellian overtones being worth the number of lives lost. I can’t imagine the departed soul believing its death was meant to propagate jingoism and racism for decades to come.
Death indicates a transition where a state of being must come to pass to make room for a new consciousness. If we cannot move into creating a beauty and new light from the ashes of the fallen towers, we are still in the throws of death and have not yet transitioned to the side where a new life is born. We are still wandering through the rubble no matter how many illuminated monuments we construct at Ground Zero. Endless wars and wary eyes on every Middle Easterner will not bring justice. Balance, growth, and renewal only comes through the joy that is created from the loss. This is what we are still waiting to find from this tragedy, and it seems to be slow in coming, as the evidence of it has yet to come forth.
To the victor goes the spoils is one of those expressions that makes me cringe. Maybe because it sounds so self-congratulatory, the fact that someone bested their opponent means they are now entitled to their stuff, their land, their tv, their wives and husbands, their pet ferrets.
Doesn’t it just fill you with pride when you reflect on how apropos this expression is in reference to those moments in our past that make us giggle and smile, like the European displacement of indigenous peoples from the lands of [insert territory or continent here], or the cute and charming slap fights that replay endlessly in the Middle East over abiogenic petroleum?
The whole principle distills down to this: someone was worse at a challenge than you so you get to take whatever they previously owned. If they can’t defend it they don’t deserve it. Makes you feel all warmy and glowy inside, doesn’t it? This aggression-fueled avarice ain’t big enough for the both of us.
If we have to obtain something by way of defeating another and taking it from them, then that which we have taken is essentially hexed. I’m not talking about game or sports oriented attainments, such as trophies or belts or titles or other events that make us sit shoulder-to-shoulder with other aficionados or on our couch with a bowl of chicken rinds. I’m talking about conquests, muggings, exploitation, Manifest Destiny, Operation Freedom, congressional votes won by way of which corporations can best afford the most pliable members of Congress.
I say to gain through someone else’s loss is essentially hexed because the acquisition plays host to the viruses that are carried on the backs of the victims’ grief and misery. We may believe that which we’ve taken brings us joys and pleasures through padding our source of means, but those means have within its inherent bones and DNA and internal structure the decay which inevitably consumes itself from the inside.
With the exception of battles which involve points and mascots and fans that can disperse to their beds and homes and cars when all is done, no conflict has any winners if it has losers. There is no gain that occurs at someone else’s loss. When someone suffers a profound loss, we all do. As long as we stand on the same terra firma and breath the same nitrogen/oxygen mix, we are all interconnected. We can talk ourselves into the illusion of perceived insulation (thanks, ego) so that we can take from another with a false sense of impunity, but we are really only taking from ourselves. A gain by way of another’s loss is really a loan that is impossible to pay and encumbered with soul compressing debt.
Are you feeling jaded and bored? Be homeless for a day.
You say, “David, being homeless sounds boring. I see those people sitting around doing nothing all day with a cardboard sign that asks for money.”
Well let me tell you this… most homeless people I encounter are busying themselves. They are searching for food and provisions that will get them through the day. There is nothing boring about constantly being in a state of survival mode.
Well I’m not here to talk about social welfare or the plight of the homeless. I’m simply trying to make a point.
Being jaded and uninspired seems to be a symptom of middle class and above. We surround ourselves with a myriad of trinkets and toys and distractions until we inevitably find that none of these things seem to do it for us. We land in between the new and the used, the sheen and lustre and chrome plating has become dull, the gadget has been played with for the thousandth time and has become predictable and stale.
So I say if we find ourselves in the throws of ennui it’s time to get rid of our comforts. If we can’t seem to entertain ourselves any longer with the shiny trappings with which we crows have crowded our nests, perhaps it’s time to do away with them. It’s interesting to see what yields from the deep dark well of deficit.
Inspiration is not derived from objets d’sire. We have fallen under the Madison Avenue induced trance that has convinced us otherwise. We believe we are inspired by the fascination that novelty brings in the heads-up display of our new car or the slick features of that new smartphone. Yet these are merely distractions as they do not inspire outward expression drawn from the well of creativity. They are merely the tools of Mesmer that hold us transfixed until the newness sloughs off like so many dead skin cells.
Creative expression is drawn from the great void of isness. It is processed from the syrup that flows from the tapping of our soul. When we can turn inward to the cornucopia of our inexhaustible and boundless inner landscape we will find an array of flotsam and jetsam strewn out of the collision of countless beautiful experiences, tiny fragments of the constant re-creating and defining of the utterly broken and errant yet perfect and beautiful self.
If we find ourselves in the throws of the dulls, it is time we stop looking outside ourselves for inspiration. Our numbness is an indication we have become disconnected from the kernel of who we are and our inner voice sounds like din or worse yet, we have completely soundproofed ourselves against the call of introspection. What we are hearing is a clarion call disguised as boredom and numbness. Once we release the agitated ego that is attached to the ennui we find we were actually yearning to retreat within yet we were afraid to do so.
Developing a skill is all about practice. Practice is all about repetition. Repetition… well who looks forward to that? Doing something over and over followed by one hundred and overs…
That’s one of the elements of refining and perfecting which we sometimes dread. I’ll raise my hand if you’re calling on someone to be honest; that’s what can deter me from developing a new skill or perfecting a half-baked one. The imagination gets put on hold and suspended in liquid nitrogen in favor of mechanical motion. No matter how cleverly Mr. Miyagi instilled karate reflexes into young Daniel-san it still has us dreading the notion of waxing a dozen cars.
Practice and rehearsal have a way of extracting the fun liquid center from any endeavor and replacing it with cams and gears that call for us to do it again with each grind of our burgeoning albeit not yet perfected skill set. It is the Sisyphean eternal application between where we are in our progress and where we want to be.
Sometimes I wonder… and I’m just spitballing here, thinking out loud… if that constant repetitive application that becomes the Lidocaine to our delights is an indication that the particular pursuit we are undertaking is maybe not for us? I know I normally apply my ideas much more definitively in these posts, but I’m giving myself license to mull out loud here. I suppose I’m looking at it from the perspective of a young musician who is learning to play guitar, or a young athlete who takes shot after shot at the hoop. When we’re young and we first fall in love with wanting to be the next great fill-in-the-blank, we will go at our new endeavor with wanton abandonment. There is no thought of the drudgery of repetition. There is only us and that melody, that swing of the bat, that stroke of the brush applied once after another after another after another- that love of whatever it is we chose to pursue being so great that we lose time in the rinse and repeat cycle. We see perfection in our mind’s eye, and each application of the exercise whispers the promise of its attainment the next go round. If we reach it, we do it again for the sheer delight of experiencing it, where we will likely trip again only to try again.
Do we see a treadmill of loathsome repetition awaiting us in between our here and now and the developed skill we desire? Perhaps we need to see if we are truly and madly in love with all that the skill encompasses. If so, our practice of it will temporarily banish time. If instead the spectre of chore shows up during its application, perhaps our attraction to that particular skill was not love, but merely infatuation.
Several days ago I decided to whack at a hornet’s nest with a pencil metaphorically. I climbed into the den of honey badgers otherwise known as the comments section on a political Facebook post. Armed with my chosen weapon of presumptuous arrogance I decided to adroitly illustrate the lack of compassion of the people who held a perspective in contrast to my own.
Somehow in my self-righteousness I forgot the adverse effect of telling a person who is politically moved that they don’t give one-tenth of one percent of a shit about people and their well being. Most people take a particular political, ethical, social, or moral stance on a matter because they believe their view aligns with what they believe is best for the society at large. So after shaking the hornet’s nest like a meth head with a Magic 8-Ball I watched what started out as what originally barely passed for a discussion disintegrate into my debate mate slinging poo ladened ad hominems like chimps behind bars.
Shy of imprisoned apes I cannot defend nor condone the hurling of misplaced epithets in the form of insults, derision, and name calling. Granted, I did shove my No. 2 pencil into the paper thin side of the hive. I made my statement, and as I firmly believe, no one says anything without an underlying intention. We choose the specific words we extricate from our minds with a specific purpose, with a desired effect. Often that effect is the intent to shape and contort the perspectives of other human beings to either match our own or to deter them from maintaining theirs. Our emotional fervent blinds us to the fact that we are running on the treadmill of futility.
My mother on many occasions would offer me morsels of sage advice based on her own experiences. She wanted to spare me from traversing the landscape of error-strewn regrets that she had stubbed her toe on along the path of her past. My father, on the other hand, never gave anything resembling advice that wasn’t wrapped in an off-colored joke. His philosophy was that mistakes were the great Socrates, that wisdom was most purely imparted through trials and tribulations, the semester’s final in the form of a hard knock from the school of the same name.
There’s a strangely beautiful balance in that approach to watching people walk toward the field of landmines. The danger of the protective coddling, repeated warnings, and the unending doling out of unsolicited advice is that it sends the message that we do not have faith or confidence in others we think are making mistakes in being able to learn from them. Our warnings on how wrong people are in their perspectives also renders us unable to recognize that their truths are valid for themselves, no matter how ludicrous they may seem to us.
At the same token to shrug and say let them learn the hardway does in no way shape or form let them know we care and that we are concerned for their future, their successful outcome, and their well being. While the parent of the Millennial approach of over protection and insulation sends the message of a lack of trust in their ability to survive mistakes, the throw them in the lake and they’ll learn to swim approach almost conveys an indifference to whether or not they survive.
Challenging another’s perspective or process is in essence the hostile form of giving unsolicited advice. When engaging in a sharing of personal or political or ethical opinions, we would do best to find the precise wording that conveys our perspective without condescending or attempting to invalidate the opinion of an opposing party. This provides those within earshot the choice to either bank or dismiss our opinions. Some lessons can only be learned through trial by fire. We must allow people to walk through the flames if this is what they choose and be there to help them heal on the other side.