Six of Wands with Knight of Coins

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Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

I see in my mind the young hero having come back from some great war, sitting on the top of the back seat of an open convertible, grinning and waving to the cheering throngs, ticker tape descending in twirls and flutters onto the pavement around him.

On a whim he snatches from the air one of the thin strips of paper snowing down from the surrounding stories above. He stretches it out before his eyes and reads the text printed upon it:

You will soon have a regular job.

Fast forward to our one-time hero, the top button of his collared shirt loosened along with his tie, the crown of his head barely visible across the sea of cubicles, the sound of office phones chirping intermittently amongst the cadence of computer keyboard clackety-clacks.

On Saturday morning he pushes his lawnmower across the quarter acre lawn then douses the dastardly dandelions with the herbicide that is the second cousin thriced removed of the gas compound used to smite the enemy abroad. He is only a half hour away from drinking a mountain spring filtered canned beer in the maple’s shade while listening to the symphony of the surrounding cicadae.

We often see the lives of these people of greatness in the form of highlight reels, their grand achievements of a lifespan ranging from 24 to 94 years distilled down into vignettes of accolades and awards and recognitions. Yet the gently rolling hills and slightly dipping valleys of daily living comprise the majority of our lifes between those dizzying zeniths of grandeur.

Life is an iceberg. The great milestones such as seeing children born or being handed a diploma or traveling to every continent, the parts of our lives that the world gets to witness in all its magnificence, is only a fraction of who we are and how we spend out time. The vast majority of our lives stays invisible to the world, suspended below the surface. The passing days and the mundane repetition of daily living can feel cold and dark and lifeless as we feel like we’re endlessly drifting through frigid waters.

However, when we dare to dream, when we entertain visions of ticker tape and confetti dancing in the air around us, when we imagine inhaling that oxygen deprived air as we stand atop that alpine peak we’ve successfully reached, that cold deep stagnancy becomes a sanctuary of tranquility.

The Zen saying before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water shows us that the mundane span of time that comprise the largest percentage of our days transforms into peacefulness when we puncture the tapestry of our lives with grand visions and exhiliarating aspirations. The pursuit of those wonderfully lofty goals is what gives meaning to the mundane.

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Six of Cups with Eight of Pentacles

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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.

Six of Wands with Ace of Swords

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

When I was in high school I lettered in band and theater. I remember getting some notice from the school that there would be an award ceremony on some given evening and they wanted to acknowledge my achievement. Personally, I didn’t know what it was all about, I had no idea what to expect. I had never lettered in anything as I never participated in sports in high school. The closest I came to entering into a sport was when I considered joining the water polo team. The season conflicted with a play I wanted to be in so I spared myself the experience of aspirating copious amounts of chlorine infused pool water.

I wanted to dress appropriately for this event, so I did my best to scratch up my best wardrobe from a school picture day long gone by. This resulted in a hodge-podge of raiment that consisted of an ill-fitted Oxford of a color that vacillated between neutral and pastel with a lavender knit tie that, as you may know if you’ve ever experienced any slice of 80s men’s fashion, is not unlike trying to tie a Windsor knot with a tube sock. My slacks told a story of having once been worn by a shorter David. The shoes… well, quite frankly I don’t remember the shoes.

I remember sitting in the back of the theater next to my mother and sister (and maybe my father, if my mom had successfully guilted him into attending, but my memory is too hazy on that). I listened to students’ names being called and watched each one that was present march onto the stage to receive their certificate and their pin. I did not find myself getting nervously excited about the accolades, nor was I indifferent to the whole event. I was anxious about walking the proscenium catwalk of teenage growth spurt style illustrated in color-blindness and punctuated with a deficit of fashion sense. My attempt to at least be well dressed was simply not well enough.

I believe I hung those certificates somewhere on one of the walls of my bedroom or my closet door. They were not displayed for the purpose of reminding family members and friends who crossed into my teenage lair of my extracurricular achievements. I just slapped them up there because I thought I was supposed to.

I’ve never understood the grand display of diplomas, awards, recognitions, and bravos framed behind glass and hung on office walls. If people desire to do that, more power to them. However, I’ve heard more stories of people who have become accomplished in one form or another attribute their motivation to a desire to prove to another person or specific peoples that they “made it”, that they’ve “become somebody”.

Isn’t there greater value in pursuing a goal primarily for the value returned from its accomplishment? Far too often many of us set out with something to prove to others, that we will show them once we’ve become successful. We feel that being one of the leaders in the cult of personality will bring even more personal significance to who we are, with our personal ascension toward enlightenment being achieved during the tossing of roses and the thunderous ovation. Then what happens when the last audience member to applaud realizes everyone else has stopped clapping and the curtain draws?

If our motivation toward any goal or achievement is based on winning the approval of another, or to gather around our plaque while nodding to each other the wonders of our excellence, that is a clue that our authentic selves have been left behind in the pursuit of our ambitions. Who we are and what we become needs no outside recognition to be validated, only the recognition that our greatest accomplishments are those that still make us proud in the stillness of our solitude when there is no one else to lay witness to them.

Karma with Six of Pentacles

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan

I drew these two cards this morning and I said to myself, “Self… this is going to be an easy post.”

Or maybe too easy?

I mean, when I look at these two cards, I think of the old adage What goes around comes around. Alright, I guess I’m done, right? Blog post written, now I can finish my coffee, go grocery shopping and watch some football today.

However, the voice of HAL comes through this post and says “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” (now I have to brace myself as I share this post with my wife to find her completely non-plussed by the 2001: A Space Odyssey movie reference, but I’m sorry… I gotta get my geek on). As virtuous as that quote may seem at face value, it sometimes doesn’t say quite enough, in my opinion. Let’s follow the Woo Woo White Rabbit down its burrow hole…

The drawback to the above stated adage is that it implies that we are a depot on a circular track of sorts, that our actions are like a train that leaves the station only to return to us at some point in the future. It operates on the premise that there is the self, the ego, the individual, the Mr. or Ms. Me; then there is the rest of the world that resides outside the demarcation of our identity otherwise known as our skin.

In all actuality the train never really leaves the station. You see, the dividing line between me and the rest of the world is a David Copperfield act. The appearance that we as individuals are separate from everyone else is all smoke and mirrors. But we so often walk around like our identity is a hazmat suit that serves to isolate us from world affairs so our words and actions can operate with impunity.

I love the term instant karma as coined by John Lennon. How we regard others has an instant effect on ourselves. There’s no waiting for karma to check its schedule to find the most inconvenient time to come collect its debt. The woo-woo part of this that I believe in the deepest part of my being is that every single event that we witness outside ourselves is a reflection of our inner landscape. If we observe it happening out there, it’s definitely happening in here.

Thus, the words and actions we take toward another- good, bad, indifferent, delicious, nasty, tender, obnoxious- we really are taking toward ourselves. We can believe that we are clucking our tongues and shaking our heads at the inappropriateness of a character that is begging to invite our denigration, but we are choosing to cast that perspective, which speaks more to our own character than to theirs.

In order for us to truly be the person we wish to be, we must treat and regard others as if they are the personification of our best selves. Does that mean to tolerate injustice and mistreatment of others? No. It means to find the compassion to regard them fully in their humanity, bringing their life experience and personal learnings to bear from their own perspectives. Without compassion for others we cannot possibly have compassion for ourselves.

Trying to create a separation of ourselves from those of whom we disapprove creates a separation of ourselves from ourselves. It is a knee-jerk reaction designed to sequester the dark aspects of who we are in order to avoid having to regard them in any form of self-awareness. When we empathize and embrace the disparate natures of others we will as a result heal the aspects of ourselves in which we have become self-critical and disapproving, because we are them and they are us.

Six of Cups

Six of Cups
Two children admire flowers growing in chalices in a courtyard

The process of manifestation begins with identifying what it is we want to attract into our lives. The process of very powerful manifestation begins with identifying, acknowledging, and embracing our dreams, our ultimate heart’s desire.

Oftentimes we will set our sights on what we believe is attainable, which is fine. Yet we will set aside focusing on our dreams as we may believe they are far beyond our reach. We have come to accept the limitations of what we are able to accomplish in our worlds, having long since abandoned the childhood dreams we once embraced.

There was a time in our lives where our dreams were unfettered by the “realities” of adulthood. We believed we could attain any outcome our hearts desired when we “grew up”. Soon the conditioning of the idea of a harsh world that demanded conformity, obedience, and survival began to take root as we transitioned out of adolescence into becoming a grown-up. We found ourselves acquiescing our dreams to the realm of being unrealistic and unattainable.

When we embrace our dreams as we did through the perspective we held in our childhood, we pursue them with utter abandon. We no longer hesitate at the idea of skinning a knee or breaking a bone, knowing the pain is temporary and the hurts will heal. We allow ourselves to be magnetically pulled toward the euphoric notion of holding our realized dreams in our hands. We disengage the restraints that we’ve allowed the concept of adulthood to place on our momentum.

When we allow ourselves to dream big, we find within those dreams our true purpose. Our dreams contain our destiny, the reason we came into this incarnation. When we move in accordance to our gestalt desire, we live in accordance to the sole reason we are alive. Through that we will not merely set a series of intentions to manifest; rather, we will discover that which we are manifesting are all the wonderful things in life we didn’t even realize we wanted, all as a byproduct of embracing our dreams.

Six of Wands

A man crowned with a laurel branch  holding a wreath topped staff rides horseback alongside a crowd with staves raised
A man crowned with a laurel branch holding a wreath topped staff rides horseback alongside a crowd with staves raised

What is a great way to accomplish those big achievements we set for ourselves? By recognizing and acknowledging the small achievements we accomplish.

Part of the process of learning to manifest our intentions is learning to feel the sense of accomplishment. With each accomplishment we acknowledge, we condition ourselves to become used to the feeling of taking positive steps toward our goals, of moving forward.

So often we get so focused on the goal that our pursuit of it can feel like the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick. It seems as if no matter what steps we take we do not seem to be any closer to our goal. However, every grand achievement is comprised of many many smaller achievements. Even the tiniest achievement is a victory upon itself.

Perhaps we only spent five minutes on a step toward a goal that might seem years away. That means we are now five minutes closer. That was five minutes we felt was important enough to invest our time and energy in our intended outcome rather than a diversion or a distraction.

Many of us have learned to be more self-critical growing up than self-approving. As a result we focus on where we fall short of our goals or our inability to reach them as soon as we like. We may base our self-worth on whether or not we have attained a given goal or station in life, feeling that we are inadequate if we are not yet there, rather than acknowledging we are moving in that direction, recognizing we are in a state of becoming that which we want to be.

Celebrating even the tiniest victories helps our minds and bodies learn and recognize the feelings of success. No step we take is too trivial. Acknowledging each step, not matter how insignificant it appears, works to reprogram and overwrite the negative thought processes that impede our own progress. When we learn to continually feel the sense of accomplishment we get used to having that feeling. We then find ourselves pursuing that feeling automatically, without having to put as much pressure on ourselves, and we move more effortlessly along the path we set for ourselves. Before we know it, we have attained the goal we set out for without even realizing it.

Six of Swords

A cloaked figure with a child are carefully ferried across a body of water along with several swords.

There is a journey of patience we sometimes need to take from where we set our intentions to where we receive what it is we desire. Often we will set our intentions, knowing it is the prime ingredient to manifestation, then we become frustrated or agitated when the manifestation does not occur as soon as we hope.

Much like baking a cake, all good things come in due time. This time is often needed to allow the conditions to mature for what it is we’re creating. It would be as if we pulled the cake from the oven 20 minutes before the full baking time. Not only would the cake be undercooked and inedible, we could not put the cake back in after we attempted to cut out a slice in all our impatience. We must allow ourselves to wait for the necessary amount of time for our desires to be fully incubated so they can be well established to meet our needs.

At other times it is ourselves that are not ready to receive what it is we desire. We might not have gone through the growth or gained the experience required to put ourselves in a state of readiness to receive the gift we seek. We may not have learned how to handle the reward, or how to care for it once we receive it. We might not have gained the prerequisite level of space between wanting and having that would allow us to truly appreciate it.

It is during these times we need to sit still and allow our previous actions to steep. We need to know that we have to allow time to ferry us across that void of waiting, knowing the vessel can only travel at a certain slow steady pace, realizing that the river does have another side which we will reach in due time. No further action can expedite the journey. It will simply take as long as it takes, but it needs to be taken in its own time.