OK, nobody wants the Death card to show up. Or the Tower. Or the Devil. In fact, some telephone hotlines tell their tarot readers to take those cards out of the deck for their client readings, something I consider unethical or at the very least a disservice.
Let’s review: Death doesn’t have to mean death, like what we see in murder mysteries every night on television; it can mean change, an ending and a beginning. If you think about it, there are plenty of things in your life you would just as soon be done with and never have to think about again. So Death doesn’t always have to be bad news because it isn’t always physical death. In fact, it’s most likely not physical death. If you’re reading this now, you probably aren’t dead (I leave room for error here) but you have probably gone through changes in your life, true? So, just playing the odds blindly, what’s more likely to happen in your life in the next week? Physical death or some change in your life? OK, so resume breathing normally.
And the Tower. Yes, it’s a big building falling down after being struck by lightning and people falling with it, at least in the RWS (Rider Waite Smith) tradition. Yes, it can mean that, like Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song that goes, “Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug,” this time you’re the bug. But it also means the *GREAT ZOT!!* of realization that changes everything you based all your assumptions heretofore upon, the foundation of your logic or thinking or belief crumbles because it was going to anyway. It’s the “A-HA!” moment, the eye-opener, the Eureka shriek, even thunderstruck love at first sight. Think Publishers Clearinghouse knocking on your door. Away go your previous assumptions, swept away by sudden realization. And it’s the Big Do-Over. Sometimes do-overs are called second chances. At one time or another, we’ve all wanted a second chance at something.
All right, then there’s the Devil. OK, I admit, evil that likes to torture you and doesn’t really care about you or the entertainment value of your suffering is pretty tough. However, the Devil is also that little voice in your head that says, “Buy me!” when faced with the [new, latest, shiny, red, pretty, fast, bigger, smaller, sparkly or other adjective that grabs you and won’t let you go] thing. It can be devastating like the chains that tie us to a destructive relationship or habit that we fear we just can’t quit. It can also mean you’re having your own devil-may-care moment of unbridled fun, the dancing on the tables and shooting out the lights kind, the kind you hope doesn’t make it to the papers, the kind you don’t take home to mom, the kind you hope you get away with without ruining the rest of your life. You get the Devil and Temperance, you have your evil and calm down. You get the Devil and the 7 of Swords and you probably get away with it, whatever it is, except that thoughts of it may plague you after the dust settles. You get the Devil and the 10 of Swords, o woe and consequences! So while the card itself can, in various decks, look really scary, there’s a range between “Cute Li’l Devil” and the kind that needs an exorcist. I recommend the cute end of the spectrum myself, but that’s just me.
Those aren’t the cards that scare me though. OK, I’m not a big fan of the Tower, mostly because I hate surprises, something like the premise of the now defunct show Dead Like Me where our main character meets her untimely demise as the victim of a falling toilet seat. I have plans.
No, there are other cards that scare me. They have to be in the “right” context of course.
For instance, I have a bit of an aversion to the 6 of Wands. I don’t like to be paraded around like a hero. I’m just like you. Or at least I try to tell myself that, while at the same time relishing how different I am from everyone else. But all that attention in the parade and stuff, that’s so not for me. Give me fortune, thanks, and leave the fame to the photogenic, I say. Take me to the pub and let’s tell stories together but don’t try to make a hero out of me. Queen for a day, I’m not. But who listens to me?
The cards that give you the heebie-jeebies are likely to tell you something about yourself. My 6 of Wands thing started early, when I was 3 or so. It was centered around fashion. Mom loved clothes and had the kind of figure that could wear just about anything, trim, great legs, long neck, deep set eyes. Did I mention I take after Dad’s side of the family? She was thrilled to have a little blonde baby girl to dress up in mother-daughter outfits and put me in little girl fashion shows. I hated it. They poured me into frilly panties with a big fat red heart appliquéd to the butt, scratchy dresses with scratchier petticoats and, at 7 or 8 years old, the ultimate indignity, a leopard print one-piece bathing suit. I looked like a speckled jellybean. Of course this particular moment was mixed with my brother’s Cub Scout den pointing, laughing and calling out, “Me Tarzan, you Jane!” That was so it. Make them stop looking at me. My modeling days were over then and there. I was prepared to bite people if they tried to dress me up one more time. Mom gave in and I retired from the runway.
|6 of Wands from the Art Postcard Tarot, |
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord,
all rights reserved
I found that it got no better even if I were recognized for something I enjoyed doing. I began fainting, offstage at least, after piano recitals. Who knew piano lessons could be so hazardous? I was given the surprise and dubious honor of being the valedictorian of my junior high class. When the principal called out my name, he mispronounced it. “Mar-see-uh McCord.” I was just uncomfortable enough, just angry enough, just embarrassed enough, to shake his hand, then lean into the microphone to say, “That’s Marcia, sir, just like you say Marsha.” It’s a mistake anyone could make but my finest hour to date was marred by misidentification, compounded, I reflect, further by my correcting him in front of the whole school. Well, it was an award for having the correct answer but no one cared. Seriously, the whole thing would have been better if they had just mailed it to me. I did at least remember to say thank you.
Toastmasters International helped me with speaking in front of others so the public aspect of my work isn’t so dreadful. Public recognition, though, was still a problem.
I sang in a Sweet Adelines quartet in Illinois, tenor, spokesperson, comic relief. We had a pretty good sound there for a little while. Some guy even came around and asked if we wanted him to be our agent. We didn’t. No, even “worse” accolades were to come. At a county fair after our performance, we were mobbed by little old guys in their 70’s who wanted our autographs. It was a nightmare. And I laughed. I should have been flattered. I should have had stage-fright. But no, I had after-stage-fright.
My last great horror of recognition happened eight years ago. I was working for a large financial corporation in San Francisco that will remain nameless, a place I mistook for the Everyman company. It was a wonderful place to work, too much to do, great people to work with, pieces of a giant puzzle to solve. I absolutely loved my work. I got awards, an entire credenza full of them, for technical and customer service achievements. I was proudest of those I won as part of a team, thinking I could bury my 6 of Wands phobia of the spotlight in a crowd. And then the party was over. No matter how many awards I had won, “Exceeds Expectations” reviews I had received or what I had achieved as an individual or team member, I was among one of the great waves of people laid off. I had a short time to pack my things and go. And I left the credenza-top full of those awards, that bright fame that meant nothing, that recognition of air and smoke.
For me the 6 of Wands is nothing but an uncomfortable spotlight on accomplishments little understood. The parade ends. The parade sponsors feel good that they have shown all that they can reward wonderfulness but nothing really deep and meaningful just happened.
But it’s not all awful between the 6 of Wands and me. Why, just last week I had a great time at the San Francisco Giants parade through the City of San Francisco. Down on the street, being about a foot shorter than most of the crowd, I caught great views of the undersides of hats and the occasional display of nosehair. Up in our friend’s office on the 8th floor, high above Market Street, just far enough from both the heroes and the crowd, I thrilled to the sound of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and watched the orange, black and white confetti fall like plum blossoms in a spring storm to cover the streetcars and vintage autos and adoring fans. And I cheered for the Giants as they celebrated their moment of victory, home from their World Series win. And I noted how quickly after the parade was over and the cheers had died down and the crowd had moved away, the City street sweepers began their cleanup, as if nothing had happened at all.
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