Recently I was couchsurfing with my new friend Rafael in Brussels and we had a great conversation about Tarot cards. One of the reasons we hit it off, I think, is because of a mutual appreciation for the zero card in the deck. In France it is called Le Mat, in some decks it is called The Vagabond, but in most decks I’ve used it’s been called The Fool.
I’m glad that we were able to have the conversation as it makes life much easier for me to comprehend right at this moment. I’ll explain why in a second, but first I have to tell you why this card has always resonated with me.
The tarot deck, to me, is the story of a journey and that journey is life. All of the cards represent different situations, feelings, or people we encounter along that journey and when they are presented in a certain way, they can bring great insight into what it is that our lives need or don’t need at any given time.
The Fool is the person setting out on the journey. It represents taking a step into the unknown. The first deck I ever used showed a young guy taking a walk and lifting his foot for the next step while he gazed up at the clouds above. Because he is so intent on the beauty above, he doesn’t notice that his next step will take him off a cliff. Slightly below the cliff is a cloud that obscures what will happen when he takes the fateful step.
I’ve always seen this as being multiple possibilities. Maybe he steps off the cliff and dies, maybe the cloud actually supports his weight and he goes on a journey to the sky he is looking at, maybe the cliff is only a small fall, maybe there is water underneath that takes him to another land…the possibilities are endless.
The point of all of this is that if you don’t take a childlike view of the world, ignore the dangers, and take that first fateful step, you will never know. And sometimes, like the beauty of the sky above, we have to be tricked into taking that fateful step and we have to go for it.
Why am I glad to have this inspiration right now? Easy. I’m a fool.
A friend told me about a job that sounded dreamlike. It was urgent that I act quickly. I took the step. I spent my tiny reserves of cash to bring myself to the job. Or as close to the job as my cash would get me.
And today I found out that there is no job and hasn’t been for several weeks.
So what do I do now? Do I cry and moan and bitch and blame my friend? Do I simply ignore the tickets, write off the money, and try to find something here in Morocco?
I take the step that’s what. I’m a fool and I have no idea what lies ahead of me on this journey, but I’ve already lifted my proverbial foot and even though I see the cliff, I’m definitely going to step off of it.
So…things are only starting to get interesting.
(Originally Posted 28 April 2009)