Different Lenses

 

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The Star” by Cot­ton Valent

 

Old pho­tos tell sto­ries.  ::stage whis­per::  They steal your soul, you know.   I joke, but I do love the old­er images that show us a time oth­er than our own.  Not nec­es­sar­i­ly bet­ter, but dif­fer­ent.  Old let­ters tell sto­ries, too, through the paper they’re writ­ten on, the hand­writ­ing, the ink, and of course the con­tents.  Tak­en alto­geth­er and they open a win­dow onto anoth­er time and place, a time of ideas we’ve lost, and mind­sets lim­it­ed by what we didn’t yet know, or were unwill­ing to grasp. We are giv­en the chance to expe­ri­ence life, for the span of the pages, through another’s eyes.

For me, tarot cards open win­dows as well.  I had a ton of them at one point — 35 or so decks–which, look­ing back, seems exces­sive. I guess I felt it was exces­sive then, too, as I gave most away. They should be loved and used.  No point in hord­ing, or keep­ing things in a box.  I feel this way about any­thing “col­lectible” whether rare or not.  You won’t do any­thing with it once you’re dead.  May as well enjoy it.

A few years ago I put away my tarot decks.  Stacked them neat­ly in a tray in their wraps, then let them col­lect dust.  There “wasn’t time” for them, and I wasn’t read­ing for any­one any­more, even myself.  I had no more ques­tions to ask.  Life was life, and you take it as it comes, and you make things work.

I some­times drift away from a pas­sion to nev­er real­ly pick it up again.  I’m famous for dab­bling.  Or–as some­one once told me–I take in all I can from some­thing, and when it no longer nour­ish­es, I slough it off, like a snake does its skin, then move on.  I thought that was a very gra­cious way of putting it.  In this case, how­ev­er, it didn’t feel true.

Last week, I met with two friends who also do the tarot thing.  Before we met, I pulled out a few decks to see if I want­ed to take any of them with me on the vis­it.

In going through the dif­fer­ent cards, I felt I was throw­ing back the cur­tains on a win­dow, exchang­ing my black-and-white view to one of col­or and bird­song.  I had a sense of com­ing home again.

I most­ly used tarot for inspi­ra­tion and sto­ry­telling, for clar­i­fi­ca­tion, insight, and even focus.  And when I call them win­dows, I real­ly mean lenses–often 78 dif­fer­ent lens­es in each deck.  They remind me of the gels I used to use when doing light­ing design back in long ago.  The light fix­tures we used were always the same, but by plac­ing a dif­fer­ent col­ored or tex­tured gel front of the beam, it changed the way we saw what was on stage.  Mood, focus, dri­ve, sub­text all changed with the use of a gel.  And that’s how tarot works for me.  I have a sub­ject I’d like to see revealed or enhanced, or what­ev­er my focus is … and the card gives me a new way of view­ing it, of con­sid­er­ing it.  Pret­ty much as sim­ple as that.  There are oth­er ways of using them, of course.  This just hap­pens to be mine.

For twen­ty years I’d used them.  Some of these decks are old friends.  They fit my puny hands.  There’s a whis­per­ing *whuf­fle* as they’re shuf­fled togeth­er, a worn soft­ness to their edges from repeat­ed use.  The col­ors please my eyes, the illus­tra­tions intrigue, inform, reas­sure, and reveal.  I love how their depict­ed arche­types and inci­dents cov­er the whole range of human exis­tence.

I’d missed them, and not even known it.

Tarot has its lovers and its haters. For me, they’re a tool, and like all tools it depends on what you do with them.  Evil and good come from the hand which wields the tool.  It is one aspect of my life I don’t talk about much, though.  I find it’s less social­ly accept­able to read tarot cards than it is to be a role-play gamer, which is weird to me, but hey, I don’t write the social norms … I just try to change them.

I real­ized that I’d put aside my cards–my form of med­i­ta­tion and inspiration–because I’d also stopped being in a com­mu­ni­ty which val­ued such tools.  The greater world didn’t seem to have room for them, or me as a user of them.  There’s a lot of side-eye to side­step when you pull out a deck.

And that’s fear talk­ing.  I may write about social­ly unac­cept­able peo­ple, but I’ve always tried to pass as social­ly accept­able myself.  Some­how, after step­ping away from that com­mu­ni­ty, my use of the cards made me an out­lier in my own eyes, and set me up for judg­ment.

Guess whose voice was the loud­est Judgey McJudger­son?  My own.

So … all this is to say, “Just do what brings you joy.”  As long as it harms none, go for it.

As for me, I’m back to my old morn­ing rou­tine of a card with my sec­ond cof­fee, and a page of poet­ry.  It sets my brain right, starts the day with imagery and lyri­cism.   And we all need a dif­fer­ent view on the world now and then.

 

What’s your jam?  What have you giv­en up from imag­ined peer pres­sure, or the real thing?  What would you do again, if you could? What tool do you like to view the world through?

 

"Ace of Cups" The Druid Craft Tarot. Illustrated by Will Worthington

The Druid Craft Tarot. Illus­tra­tions Will Wor­thing­ton

 

Open Letter

 

From Me to You

From Me to You

 

An Open Let­ter to the peo­ple who have shared their sto­ries and their lives with me lately–mostly strangers–but also a few friends.

 

Dear­est Fel­low Human –

You may know me, or we may have only met briefly in the Star­bucks line, or through a drop-in flash­point in a game, or from a com­ment made in a Face­book group we’re both in, or stand­ing in the sun­shine on the side­walk.  But that’s okay.  How­ev­er we came togeth­er, you were hav­ing a hard time, and you need­ed a friend.  It’s good we talked.  I’m glad that when we part­ed you felt like you were heard and sup­port­ed.  I’m not always good at lis­ten­ing, so I’m glad I could be there for you in that time and place.

A lot of peo­ple I know are hav­ing a hard time right.  They’ve lost loved ones, are strug­gling with health issues, have too lit­tle mon­ey, feel out of con­trol, fear the future, strug­gle with who they are, or sim­ply are so damn tired all the time.  You’re not alone in feel­ing this way.  Truth.

After we part­ed, I wished I could have giv­en you more.  I want­ed to wrap you in a warm blan­ket, hand you a mug of hot cocoa or love­ly tea, read you a good sto­ry, and let you know things can be okay some­times, even if they’re not right now.

There are a few things I wish I could have shared with you, things I think you don’t know how to believe in, or are for­get­ting just now.  And I don’t want to sound pushy, but I hope that you will believe me, even just for a lit­tle while, as I tell you:

  1. You are worth lov­ing just as you are right now.   You Are Worth Lov­ing Just As You Are.
  2. Your sto­ry mat­ters.  You mat­ter.   I want to hear your sto­ry, in what­ev­er way you want to share it.
  3. We can’t save oth­er peo­ple, no mat­ter how much we want to. We can only love them for as long as they’re in our lives, near or far.  The only per­son you can tru­ly save/fix/change is your­self, and that’s where we need to start.
  4. You can only do your best. Some days your best will be excel­lent, and some days you’ll feel it’s not so much.  Cel­e­brate the good days, and for­give your­self the hard ones.
  5. You’re allowed to feel what­ev­er you are feel­ing, even the ones that oth­ers think are ugly.  
  6. It’s okay to ask for help. Some peo­ple won’t be able to do much, but oth­ers will.  We all suck at ask­ing, but every­one needs a hand or a hug some­times.
  7. Be kind to your­self and oth­ers as much as you can. You deserve kind­ness, and so do they.  Some­times kind­ness is hard to come by, but give and receive what you can, as you can. 

 

I don’t know if we’ll ever see each oth­er again, Fel­low Human, but thank you for shar­ing your time and your sto­ry with me, and for includ­ing me in your life for a while.  I hope it gave you at least the seeds of what you need­ed.  I wish you gen­tle days and rest­ful nights, and all hap­pi­ness in the days to come.

 

With love,

The Stranger In The Cof­fee Shop / Online / In That Game You Love / At The Park

 

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