Saturday, October 26, 2013

I can't believe that it's almost November already. Never has a year passed by this fast! And what a ride it has far..! I shared in the beginning of the year in one of my posts about a ritual that I do with two of my close friends, where we draw a tarot-card to suggest a theme for the coming year. I drew the Death-card for 2013, which, while initially frightening, was in fact not an actual death sentence by any means. Instead, it hinted of a year of transition, change and destruction, followed by renewal.

"Whether you like it or not, Death is one of the most powerful cards in the Tarot. Humans naturally fear the unknown, and so Death is our greatest fear since it is the greatest unknown. The majority of us are unaware that our mind and spirit die all the time, constantly shedding old beliefs and acquiring new ones. It has been said many times by many readers: the Death card is not a card of death - it is a card of transformation."
-- James Rioux,

I've thought about the Death-card a lot this year, as I have most certainly been through immense transformations. The way I view myself and my life is different than before; the way I operate in my career is being renewed time and time again, and many close relationships are simply not the same as they were, nor will they ever be. While there have been moments of devastating realizations, there has also been the peace that followed. When a truth that I've been unwilling to look at becomes evident, there is always a reward of clear-headedness. I wouldn't wish to be challenged in all the many ways that I have been, but then again, I also wouldn't wish it any other way. 

"When Death appears it almost always signifies a major change in one's life. Sometimes the change will appear disruptive and unexpected, sometimes it will be a breath of fresh air - clearing away obstacles and allowing you to surge forward. So do not assume that Death is a negative card - it is often just what we need in order to progress when fear is holding us up."
-- Jan Shepherd,

I have found that our yearly card-drawing-ritual has been helpful to me in that I've been more welcoming to the changes that have come. I've also possibly been a little more willing to allow myself to feel all the feelings that have come along with those changes -- knowing on a deeper level that all things, feelings included, shall pass.

All my life, I've been dependent on people and things in many different ways. The biggest transformation for me this year has been the cutting of numerous strings and even some chains. I still have some left that bind me, but I'm no longer tangled in the way that I was. Perhaps there's a feeling of safety, being tied up in all kinds of knots, but I'm willing to let that go now and stand on my own two feet. If that requires a series of deaths, so be it.

In honor of Halloween, I attach a picture of a vintage Death-card, that looks a whole lot like the card I picked out from the deck some ten months ago. Actually, it doesn't look so scary at all..!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I've been thinking a lot about the difference between privacy and secrecy recently... In the past I have often been open to a fault about things that are going on in my life, whenever I've been asked. People have inquired about my private matters in social situations and I have often felt obligated to answer, truthfully to boot, which has frequently left me feeling violated. It is only now that I have understood that I have a right to privacy about things that I choose to be private about. I am the only one who decides what business of mine I share with people around me.

noun: secrecy
1. the action of keeping something secret or the state of being kept secret.

I have very few secrets. Most of my fumbles and foibles, likes, loves and hates are known by somebody close to me. My troubles and my traumas have too become a lighter load to carry, after I've shared them with a friend or a loved one. What I'm learning now is privacy--to not automatically think that I'm being dishonest if I don't share everything with people close to me. It is still somewhat of an adjustment to understand that I am not lying when I choose not to discuss something that is significant in my life with someone near and dear to me.

noun: privacy
1. the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.

I love the idea of boundaries versus walls. I'm not interested in walls. Instead, I love that there is an invisible structure in place now in my life, which keeps me increasingly safe from unwanted intruders. People have the nerve (and a right) to ask all kinds of questions, and as a public persona, this is even more common. My responsibility is to know what I feel comfortable sharing and what I don't, and to know how to say no, kindly.  My chosen boundaries may be surprising to some, as I have decided to be open about certain things that many others don't discuss as freely. It is a personal choice for us all; a part of the vision we have for ourselves. I chose to share this with you today.

“Friends don’t spy; true friendship is about privacy, too.”
Stephen King, Hearts In Atlantis

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Today, I share with you a Buddhist story that a friend recently told me regarding anger. I found a number of versions of it online, but for whatever reason, this one was the one that resonated with me the most. Personally I still find it hard to refuse unwanted "gifts" that people give me, but I appreciate the story's sentiment. I am learning...

 One day, the Buddha and a large following of monks and nuns were passing through a village. The Buddha chose a large shade tree to sit beneath so the group could rest awhile out of the heat. He often chose times like these to teach, and so he began to speak. Soon, villagers heard about the visiting teacher and many gathered around to hear him.

One surly young man stood to the side, watching, as the crowd grew larger and larger. To him, it seemed that there were too many people traveling from the city to his village, and each had something to sell or teach. Impatient with the bulging crowd of monks and villagers, he shouted at the Buddha, "Go away! You just want to take advantage of us! You teachers come here to say a few pretty words and then ask for food and money!"

But the Buddha was unruffled by these insults. He remained calm, exuding a feeling of loving-kindness. He politely requested that the man come forward. Then he asked, "Young sir, if you purchased a lovely gift for someone, but that person did not accept the gift, to whom does the gift then belong?"

The odd question took the young man by surprise. "I guess the gift would still be mine because I was the one who bought it."

"Exactly so," replied the Buddha. "Now, you have just cursed me and been angry with me. But if I do not accept your curses, if I do not get insulted and angry in return, these curses will fall back upon you—the same as the gift returning to its owner."

The young man clasped his hands together and slowly bowed to the Buddha. It was an acknowledgement that a valuable lesson had been learned. And so the Buddha concluded for all to hear, "As a mirror reflects an object, as a still lake reflects the sky: take care that what you speak or act is for good. For goodness will always cast back goodness and harm will always cast back harm." 

From Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents (Condra Enterprises, 2005), collected and adapted by Sarah Conover.