My Wildest, Fortitude, from ”My Wildest Tarot Series”
(pens, pencil, oil pastels and sharpie); 2020.
How to find stillness in the midst of change? In this post, I am going to answer this question by interpreting the Tarot in a contemporary and personal reading.
The image above, Fortitude, is inspired by traditional arcana number X, The Wheel of Fortune. It’s an intuitive interpretation of what it means to me, and how I use its symbolism to flow through life with more grace. In this drawing, the Self is caught in one of those moments in life when everything is finding new meaning and structure. The Self, in the midst of such an uncomfortable state, takes a big in-breath, holds it in, and allows the peak of change to occur without resistance. What was up is now down; what was left is now right; the inside and the outside meet and switch place often, daily. Then, the exhale. We use storytelling as a tool for social communication and engagement. Culture revolves around the stories that are told, the ones that are silenced. and the ones that are changed. As mentioned, your sense of identity relies on the stories you have created for yourself, the old ones you let go of, and the new ones you create as you grow. When change occurs, stories change. For example, if your health demands that you change your dietary or sports habit, your identity needs to adapt. You may no longer be able to bond with a particular group of people, or feel attracted to other groups.
In the midsts of change, there may be a certain tendency to become attached to memories, stories, places and peoples. These function as anchors, a presence in the physical world that carries a seed of emotional charge.
The Self, in the image above, is constantly swinging back and forth between two polar forces: storytelling and deep contemplation. Let me touch on them briefly.
STORYTELLING: Social Engagement
Stories as spun out of our talent, as humans, to make sense of perceptual reality so much we can remember them in the forms of memories. This is truly a marvelous skill, which comes with some glitches. For example, we may forget that our perception of reality may change in time, and that stories, too, will need to evolve. Humans don’t like that too much. We prefer to preserve the stories we are comfortable with because they reinforce our sense of identity.
DEEP CONTEMPLATION: SILENCE
Here there are no stories, no sounds, and ultimately, no self memory. Only the breath and then that goes, too. Indeed, deep contemplation is an elegant way to practice death, including the death of personality that results from radical change. There is a risk to go deep, into stillness, where there is no identity, and there is no desire to do anything, go anywhere, please anyone, including the self itself.
Drum roll…. Enters EGO. If the mind of SELF, the character in the drawing, were staged as the inside of a circus tent, you would see STORYTELLING on one side of the trapezius, and DEEP CONTEMPLATION on the other. EGO would swing in between, sometimes stopping here and sometimes stopping there but always feeling the urge to move.
SO WHAT ABOUT STILLNESS?
Stillness is not lack of movement. It is, rather, the most complete integration of forces. How do you integrate forces that you aren’t aware of, and cannot comprehend? If you are looking for stillness learn yourself. Observe yourself. Witness your emotions as they ride you, without judgment. Allow e-motion to move you, experiment yourself. Then, reconnect to the breath. How long can you ride an emotion or a thought before losing awareness of your breath?
Stillness is a way of life, a constant and gentle research for integration, until wholeness, unpredictably, takes your breath away. Stillness results, gradually, from becoming comfortable with the swings of the EGO, and finding what you need in each moment: storytelling and making sense of reality, or complete quiet and letting go of any labels. They both coexist because stillness is not something to attain. Stillness is a way of life
Stillness results, gradually, from becoming comfortable with the swings of the EGO, and finding what you need in each moment: storytelling and making sense of reality, or complete quiet and letting go of any labels. They both coexist because stillness is not something to attain. Stillness is a way of life, a constant and gentle research for integration, until wholeness, unpredictably, takes your breath away.
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[Take a deep breath and answer in the comments below. Please use this as an exercise in intuitive writing (also called free-style or free-flow journaling). To know more about this style of channeling through writing, see my blog post “How to Channel through Writing.”]
How do you experience stillness? Or not? Use the prompt: “I am stillness and this is what I want to tell you….” then write without interrupting and correcting for a couple of minutes, at least. Thank you for sharing of yourselves with us!