Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Fortune Card

My friend Betty has decided to embark on teaching classes intended to stimulate creativity and growth. She says,
You'll create one or more vision statements for yourself, for your relationships, your work, and the world. These will focus on bringing you to a place of optimum health and vitality in all areas of your life.
You'll practice the techniques that will create these visions. These techniques include using special (and very simple) breathing techniques, visualizations, tarot, past life regression, directed energy activation, dance, music, drama, art, song, writing, and story-telling.
You'll practice forgiveness and gratitude exercises to create space for your new visions.
You'll participate in rituals that will help you embody your vision and connect this vision with your source of divine/moral guidance.
The idea is to bring more JOY into your life and eliminate stress. We plan to tap into your creative unconscious and use this valuable resource to transform your life, your relationships, your work, our world.

That sounded like a good thing to me, so although the classroom site is rather far away and I don't have a lot of extra time (or feel especially blocked at the moment), I went down last night to check it out and give some friendly support.
Well... it soon became clear that a trip to Palo Alto during rush hour requires about two hours even if the traffic isn't unusually slow, so I don't suppose I'll be going to the rest of the sessions, but it was nice to see Betty in action.
Betty began by leading us through a relaxation exercise. I confess that my results with that kind of thing are mixed; sometimes I just plummet into trance and am not all that anxious to return, and sometimes I don't really take to the imagery. This time I wasn't in a very receptive mood after having to deal with traffic and arriving late, so the last thing I wanted to hear was that we were lying on a sandy beach. Sandy beaches are not really my thing. I mean, I don't hate them, and now and then I enjoy them, but in general I find them less than pleasant. All my memories of disagreeable beach experiences began to well up... all those childhood walks from the car to the water across burning asphalt, concrete, and dirty scorching sand filled with garbage (I'm not sure why we didn't wear sandals, but we didn't); the sting of saltwater in my eyes; the worse sting of jellyfish wrapping around my legs; the impossibility of getting the sand off for the next day or so because it was filled with little flat blackish bits that stuck to the skin after showering and scrubbing. As I recall, it didn't take too long for me to suggest to my parents that we not go to the beach. At least the sand in my sandbox didn't adhere to my skin semi-permanently.
So... there I was trying to replace the well-meant beach imagery with something more pleasant, but next thing I knew we were moving on to the visualization part. We were to see what we visualized for our so-called vision statement.
Having had to read all too many corporate and nonprofit "vision statements," I'm afraid that this too prompted a mildly negative reaction, especially since I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to have a vision statement about, but I tried to let that go and let the images come.
As it happened, the only thing that came was the image of myself writing by hand, completely oblivious to my surroundings. (We were supposed to be getting lots of rich sensory detail to write down.) Since all around me, people were scribbling away with lengthy descriptions of their visions, I felt a little peevish, but on the other hand I figured that an image of myself writing was as good as anything else. After all, I'm a writer and I'm writing a dissertation at the moment.
We were supposed to pair off and discuss our visions in the hope of fleshing them out and better understanding them. My partner had a long outburst of unfocused joy and excitement, which seemed to be just what she wanted, so I was encouraging about it. I figured she knew where she was going with this. She was nice enough about my one-liner but I got the impression that she thought perhaps I had trouble being open to joy and optimism. Well, no, not usually, in fact I tend to be more optimistic and contented than otherwise, but I wouldn't say I spend my whole life in a state of nirvana. After all, I have to deal with things like rush hour traffic and long conversations with friends who don't want to be persuaded that their lives are not actually an unrelenting hell.
Having done our vision statements, we moved on to each choosing a tarot card. Now this, I think is Betty's area of particular brilliance. She's good at lots of things and has studied all sorts of alternative techniques for healing and awareness, but I've always found Betty to be to be a remarkable reader of tarot cards. She uses the Voyager deck, which she knows intimately.
I suppose that over the years there must have been a few times when the cards I chose at Betty's behest didn't strike me as apropos, but it can't have been very many, and perhaps those cards were more suitable than I realized at the time. I recall, for instance, that when we did tarot readings before I went away to graduate school, I got what seemed like a gloomy set of cards emphasizing the Hermit. Since I was looking forward to beginning this new adventure, I was perturbed at getting a set of cards that suggested I was going to spend a lot of time sequestered by myself and not feeling especially happy. Betty tried to put a good spin on it by pointing out that graduate school does require some hermit-like behavior, but she didn't claim that I'd enjoy myself. And in truth while my next year or so wasn't miserable and I did just fine in school, I did feel remarkably isolated and spent a lot of time on the phone and emailing with people I had left behind.
That was the only time, I think, that I've had a less than encouraging set of cards in the whole time I've been in grad school. With strange consistency, I pull cards that agree with my general feeling that life is going along very nicely for me and that generally I'm doing the right thing.
Since I was not really in an ideal frame of mind when I pulled my one card from the deck last night, I was afraid it would end up mirroring my temporary irritations, or suggest that I was neglecting my personal life in favor of academia, or some such disagreeable thing.
But no, I got Fortune, which in the Voyager deck relates to reaping the fruits of hard work, growing, expanding, and generally enjoying success. I got a good sense of the basics from the description in the instruction book, but Betty, as always, gave a wonderfully sensitive, encouraging, and personalized poetic reading... which, of course, she did for everyone in the room. Not all of the cards were so positive, but all of them seemed to relate to the chooser's life, so as usual it was a pleasure and an education to listen to Betty interpreting each person's card in relation to their goals and challenges.
If I could finagle Betty into doing a reading for me every six months, that would be a fine thing!
Meanwhile, I see that according to Rob Brezsny, my horoscope is:
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): How should we visualize the phase you're in? Are you coming back home after a harrowing journey to the abyss? Or are you about to launch a quest straight into the heart of the dawn's blinding promise? Paradoxically enough, Leo, you're doing both. You're coming and going at the same time. You're graduating from an ancient lesson and beginning a new course of study. Hints of the future are mingled with the last gasps of the past.

I'm open to suggestions as to what exactly I'm graduating from and what I'm beginning. I don't think this is just about grad school.

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1 Comments:

Blogger morskyjezek said...

I'm not sure that I have any insights, but you're returning from living in Prague for two years and that certainly seems like a big change. Hopefully the dawn includes defending a dissertation?

I know what you mean about the beach visualization.

July 18, 2007 5:06 PM  

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