Fate & Luck

As we shift away from the Summer into Fall, it's no surprise to anyone to point out that things change, the cycle of the seasons go round and round, and that the new work or school year promises new challenges, opportunities, and misfortune alike. We don't know what we're going to face this year, but yet it's somehow exciting when the intensity of the sunlight changes, the mornings are cooler, and the first leaves start turning. It's easy to look forward to change, but another thing when the change actually happens.

It's easier to deal with the vagaries of life when things are going well, but if we're feeling down on our luck it's not much consolation to be told that things will change eventually. Of course, it's also doesn't feel great to be told that things will change eventually when things are going well; we don't like to hear that. So either way, it's hard to be happy with our situation.

This is usually why one of the first things people ask about tarot cards is whether they can really be used to predict the future. More precisely, they want to know if I'm crazy enough to believe that they predict the future. Most of us don't believe you can do that yet, at the same time, we all have half-baked, semi-inherited thoughts about fate and luck and what we do or don't deserve that amounts to the same thing. But the future is never fixed. The fact is that the future changes with each instant. Every moment is a choice, a branching point of possibility. What we think is fate is often just an assumption and sequence of passivity on our part, whether it's for better or worse. Luck, too, by definition can't be predicted or counted on.

One thing is for certain regardless, and that's if we continue doing the same thing over and over, we're likely to get the same result. This is where the tarot is useful. The fact is, we all need a good poke in the ribs with a stick sometimes, to tell us "hey bonehead, try something new." We're pattern-recognizing creatures despite our often willful stupidity, and the tarot does a great job for helping our brain point out old patterns and find new ones. Rather than assuming lack of free will this grants us way more than we would have otherwise had with our heads buried up our asses.

Anyways, as the season turns, let's remember that neither concept of fate or luck paint a proper picture for us. Life is a mix of shit we can control, and shit we can't (with a high tendency toward the latter). This is a good reminder to change what we can and be patient with the rest. Often we can't even tell whether something that happens is fortunate or unfortunate or possibly both. The only thing that's knowable is that things will change.

I remember a short stint reading the Ames and Ilg child development books back when my kids were little enough that I wasn't suffering too much cumulous exhaustion to read, and I was amused that they pointed out that periods of smooth sailing alternated with periods of disruption. Like, DUH.

Maybe it's not obvious, and we forget -- that what is won't always be, and what is is often a pain in the keister. This is where another book comes in, Byron Katie's "Loving What Is." Because that's the only way you're covered.