Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Joie de Vivre



How could, and why would, anyone love the tower card? To find it exciting or dynamic is one thing, but to love the card? To love the idea of a bolt of insight so profound, it knocks down a huge swath of unconscious constructs, blows holes in the grid of personal values from where every one of our stories arises - well - that is kind of crazy. The tower card wreaks havoc. Who would love that?

(sound of throat politely clearing) I would. In fact, I do.

I love nothing more than the rare moment when I change my mind about something I always believed was The Truth, no matter what that thing is. It's the awakening that thrills me, that shows me clearly how fragile the idea of reality is. It's humbling to be sure, but well worth it.

What is real? Truth is not set in stone by any means. Even neuroscientists say we are storytellers. We receive unbelievable amounts of sensory information every second. It's the job of the brain to decide what it all means - and there's the rub. My brain (yours, too) decides something is true, based on past experiences and according to personal values. Once the brain decides what is real, it takes an act of God to change that opinion. Keeping an open mind is difficult, it requires work to keep restructuring brain maps and neural networks.

And, too, a big change in perspective or belief reveals clearly just how fragile are our values and belief systems. They seem so sturdy when we keep reinforcing them. I think this is why fundamentalists are so dangerous and narrow minded. They keep laying the same paths in their brains, day after day. Pretty soon they are functionally incapable of seeing anything different from what they believe to be the One Truth. It scares me to think about it.


For someone as hard headed as I am, the tower card experience is sometimes the only way I'll see things from a fresh perspective. I try, but I am so passionate about my beliefs. I am invested in my beliefs. Well, aren't you?

I tilt towards fundamentalism by nature, hence the tower card is my friend.

Here's the insight I'm working with this morning. It's about how I've always been a quitter, I've always been willing to throw in the towel sooner rather than later in many different situations. I have never feared death, only staying alive. I have always been in a state of tense waiting for the disaster to unfold. I realize, as I unwind the torch of the Holocaust, that this outlook stems in a rather direct way from the sense of relief I felt at the end of that life I described briefly yesterday. Knowing we were all about to die was a relief. You can't imagine how happy I was to lay aside my emaciated, sickly body.

That millions of people died in the Holocaust, also in the bombing of Japan as well as in the battles from the Pacific to Europe to Russia to Africa - that they died is not what's seems awful to me about WWII. It's the suffering before they died that bothers me, always has. This point of view is resonant of that last thought - We are done here. At last I could put down the burden, I could let go. There was no sadness about dying, not even the tiniest bit. I welcomed it.

At least this is what I tell myself I can remember. Is it real? You tell me what's real, please? Whatever it is, this glimpse has shaped my behavior and outlook all my life.

But the tower card experience that is this crazy summer has opened my mind to a shift in that lifelong pattern. Closing in on age 60, I'm just about ready to fully, whole-heartedly embrace life for its own sake. Who would have ever guessed? Not me, I tell you.

It might seem ironic that this has come to me so late in life. I've always been a late bloomer. Better late than never, I'm thinking, hey?

L'chaim! And shalom.

10 comments:

ellen abbott said...

this is a great post Reya. so much here.

glnroz said...

late,,, you say? Ok, but myyy what a bloom... Happy Day back to ya...:)

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks!

SG said...

This is a beautiful post. Made me go back to so many instances where I have quit - just to end the misery. You are so right in pointing it out - at least for most of us - it is not death we fear most, it is the misery and suffering of the period leading to it.

junkthief said...

Thanks for sharing this since I've been dealing with somewhat similar issues but didn't know much about the Tower card. My problem has been the tension between the polarity of NOT quitting some things that I continue to do when they serve no purpose and quitting or not sticking with those that are important and will serve me greatly if I will keep with them long-term. The tyranny of the last minute good idea, as someone once called it, is the eternal distraction that takes me off course.

junkthief said...

Thanks for sharing this since I've been dealing with somewhat similar issues but didn't know much about the Tower card. My problem has been the tension between the polarity of NOT quitting some things that I continue to do when they serve no purpose and quitting or not sticking with those that are important and will serve me greatly if I will keep with them long-term. The tyranny of the last minute good idea, as someone once called it, is the eternal distraction that takes me off course.

Reya Mellicker said...

It has been a summer of shake ups, for many, not everyone of course. Nothing applies to everyone, at least this is my firm belief. And I do know how flimsy beliefs are. Good lord.

Junk Thief I say, flatten the playing field, let it all go. The great thing about my mildewed clothing is that I had to throw out EVERYTHING - every sock, every old battered teeshirt.

It's a Descent of Inanna kind of summer. Let it all go, then rebuild. Or at least this is how it's working for me. In my chest of drawers, at least.

Thank you, SG. I'm not against quitting, but I have been premature many a time. Of course in hindsight it's easy to see that ...

Pam said...

I remember reading a quote "In the best stories there's a part where the heroine decides enough is enough. We love that part".
I've always thought that puts a positive spin on quitting, which in my experience is not always a bad thing and often delayed much longer than it needs to be.
So many times the relief is palpable and emotional or physical health returns happily to where its supposed to be.

Reya Mellicker said...

We LOVE that part.

Thank you, Pam.

Kerry said...

I don't know anything about tarot cards, but this one looks pretty cool, at least the way you have interpreted it. I suppose there are other ways of seeing it.

Reya, I passed 60 2 years ago, and it was a big deal in some ways. But in other ways it was kinda like...not so much? Just another number, a checkpoint. A way to be healthier.