On Moving Forward

On Moving Forward

In a deck of Tarot cards exists a most frightening picture – the Grim Reaper, in all his black-cloaked glory, riding atop a white horse and sporting an eerie grin. Below his image reads, simply:

DEATH.

As a child growing up with an infatuation with martial arts, Buddhism, and fortune-telling, the first time my clairvoyant instructor (and best friend, as time would prove) read my cards for me I pulled this blunt seal to my fate and immediately began to tear up.

“Uhm, Kyoshi, (a term used for Grand Masters of a martial art) what does that mean?! Am I going to die?” My hands trembled uncontrollably as I began to regret having begged her to read my fortune. As a thirteen-year-old girl, I had never once considered DEATH. to be an option.

She rolled her eyes comically and swatted at me with her hand, explaining, “Oh, don’t be so dramatic! It doesn’t mean what you think it means – well, not usually,” she added in that last ominous bit just to watch me squirm uncomfortably in my seat, “It means the end to a way of life. A sudden, abrupt change in the way you see the world. It’s neither good nor bad – it just is. You’re young; this is going to happen to you many times before you finally settle into who you are. Even after you figure all that out, though, you’ll still experience this from time to time. It’s a natural thing, just like death.”

“But I don’t want to change the way I see the world. I like who I am,” I pouted, clearly unhappy with what the cards promised me. Kyoshi chuckled, a warm look in her eyes as she must have been musing upon the tragic beauty of youth.

“Honey, trust me, this card is a good sign. Nobody wants to think like a thirteen-year-old girl forever… then again, thinking like a sixty-year-old isn’t anything fantastic, either. Maybe you know better than me.”

I have pulled this card a handful of times since that day. The accuracy is uncanny; every few years, something happens to us that lurches us so far into a new state of mind we can never fully recover the person we were before. Kyoshi always comforts me with the notion that “all change is good.” As much of a skeptic as I may be of all things illogical, Tarot cards have always enthused me – and so I have learned, with some guidance from Kyoshi, to read them myself.

When I read for others I begin with the disclaimer: “I’m no clairvoyant. I only know what the cards are supposed to mean. This is for fun, so don’t take it too seriously. Oh, and if you see something you don’t like, just remember – the future can always change. So if you don’t like what you see, change your path. It’s simpler than you think.”

At the beginning of this year I found myself reading my own cards more and more frequently; I was lost, and confused, and desperate for an explanation to a sense of unease I couldn’t quite get a hold of. As I gazed at the hand I drew from the thick deck, the cards seemed to be screaming in my face, You’re putting all your energy in the wrong place, and you know it. I pulled strange and mysterious combinations – The Tower beside the Nine of Wands, stress cards scattered throughout both past, present and future. Quite simply, I was in denial about how unhappy I was with my direction in life – and the cards knew it.

I finally broke down and came to Kyoshi. In mid-February I pulled her deck out from the special place she keeps them in the antique desk drawer, slapped them between us on the kitchen table, and sat down.

“Figure me out,” I demanded simply. She smiled that mischievous, all-knowing grin at me, and nodded curtly.

“Yeah. You need guidance.”

After the cards were pulled and the reading was complete, her piercing green eyes met mine, and she stated simply, “But you already knew all of this, didn’t you?”

“I pull the same old crap every time! It’s really starting to piss me off,” I huffed, frustrated with myself.

“You know you shouldn’t read yourself too often; it’s no good for you. And you’re not listening to them, anyway! You’re still stressing out as you always do. You’ve done this since you were a child.”

“There’s something wrong with me,” I croaked, my hands trembling just as they had when I was a thirteen-year-old girl, “I’m, like, stuck… I can’t figure out what I’m so stuck on this time.”

“You know exactly what it is. You’ve had a rough couple of years, and these past few months have been especially hard on you. You’ve had a lot of internal struggle concerning what you want out of life.” she interjected.

“Yeah, but this is different. This crap haunts me like you wouldn’t believe.”

“I think you’re on the brink of something. You just have to… go for it. And the cards seem to think you’re going to.” She raised her eyebrows at me. I knew exactly what she was referring to.

I glanced down at his face with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. DEATH., in all his cloaked glory, looked back at me with an air of fierce superiority as the last card in my fortune.

Change was imminent.

Yesterday I sat beside Kyoshi on the cramped hospital bed, careful not to sit on her oxygen tube. Another asthma attack landed her in the hospital – this is second one this month. Typical. The only good thing to come out of this was having a good excuse to sit with her for hours on end, talking over coffee and snacks, without the disruption of rowdy grandchildren and an even rowdier husband. She had commented on how stunning I looked in my tea-length striped dress and black flats the minute I entered the room.

“Oh, Peter and I are going on a date right after I leave here,” I explained, cheeks turning pink, “He’s bringing me to some fancy Italian restaurant – that’ll be a sight to see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him out of work clothes before.”

“Hmm, dates. I remember those days… You’re having fun with him, aren’t you?”

“Please, I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in years,” I gushed, “I feel like I’m in a whole new world! This summer has been the craziest, most unexpected experience of my life. It feels good to just… I don’t know… enjoy life instead of obsessing over preserving the peace all the time. Does that make sense? Just because of that one night, I met all of these incredible people, and Peter is great, and I’m finally trying new things I never thought I’d do… I mean, I guess things were really dark after the breakup… but I didn’t think I’d ever turn out like this after all I’d gone through. Yet here I am.”

DEATH., huh?”

“What? Oh…” my eyes widened comically, “Holy crap, Kyoshi!”

“It’s about that time – six months later, isn’t it?”

I was so dumbfounded I just nodded in silence. This wasn’t the first time the cards were spot on with timing, but what frightened me was that it happened completely without my recognizing it.

My perspective shifted. I was officially a different person.

“This is… eerie,” I choked.

“It’s good,” she smiled softly at me, “You were due for change. And now you’re happier for it. That phase of your life is over – learn from it, remember it, and thank it for everything it gave you.”

“I almost feel… guilty about it,” my shoulders slumped as the severity of how much I’d changed washed over me, “I mean, things started out so good… Is it right that I had to move on? Did I give up on something I should have fought harder for? Or was it all just damned from the start?”

“What you had before, it wasn’t all bad. You had a wonderful time, but it eventually went sour and there was nothing that could be done about it. Your paths diverged.  It would have been reckless of you to continue on a path that made both of you as miserable as it did. So now you’re moving forward, and look at you – I haven’t seen you this happy in a long, long time. It’s only forward from here, sweetie.”

Readers, we all come to a point in our lives when we reach the end of an era. You’ve allowed a situation to run its course, done everything you could to make it power through, but at some point the wheels stopped turning. The hardest part is leaving it where it’s stopped and going off into the unknown in search of something new.

I told myself for months that I was stuck in my situation – no opportunities for change presented themselves, I pouted; how was I supposed to grow when I was so obviously stuck where I was with no strength to wander elsewhere? What is more noble – to fix something you don’t want, or to be strong enough to walk away and find the next thing that intrigues you?

Change lurks everywhere, in every moment of the day. We are constantly presented with the chance to do something the “old us” would never do. For me, it was as simple as striking up conversation with a stranger fishing at the beach. What could have been a simple, “Hello! Beautiful night, isn’t it?” became first an acquaintance, then a friendship, and finally a complete immersing into a new circle of people I’d never have gotten to know if I’d kept to myself. Peter and I, now a fresh new couple, laugh about the situation often. He says I’m insane; I say I’m brave. We both consider ourselves lucky.

The phrase “just go for it” echoes in my head on a daily basis now – and so I try new things, I meet new people, I push fear aside and I wander into places I’ve never wandered before, both physically and emotionally. However, remembering the boundary between reckless and adventurous is vital –there is a distinct difference between snorting cocaine and skydiving.

The next time you can’t decide between staying safe or “going for it,” go through your mental checklist:

1: What are my reasons for NOT doing this? Are they valid?
2: What is the worst-case scenario?
3: What is the best-case scenario?
4: If things go awry, how easy will it be to walk away?
5: How will I feel about myself after doing this – empowered, or disappointed?

And whilst it may hurt, never forget or regret the past. It got you where you are, and helped to make you the person you will become.

                I don’t regret a thing.

                Keep Moving Forward!

                                -The Muse

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