Everybody Should Play the Fool

One of the neat things about Mercury retrograde is that sometimes you get an opportunity to reconnect with someone from your past. Recently I e-mailed the blog link to Sparky, one of my childhood friends, and as a result we had a great conversation tonight.

Talking to Sparky brought back all these memories of hanging out at her house in the summer. She’d call me up in the morning and ask if I wanted to come with her and her mom to collect the money from the videogames they had bought & placed at a local arcade. They would pick me up and we’d head off to the arcade. I felt super-cool to be with them while they pulled the silver bin from the belly of the Frogger or QBert machines and emptied out the quarters. Often Sparky’s mom would give us a bunch of the quarters and we’d run off to play games for a while. If it wasn’t for the Ms. Pacman they had in their basement, I would have never learned how to get past the banana board.

Sparky had a pool where we spent a lot of hours. We would try to figure out the best way to keep our masks from fogging up while we were underwater, and we’d play Star Wars and other games. Sometimes her older sister and her current boyfriend would be at the pool with us – we frequently acted even more outrageous than usual just to get attention.

Since VCRs had just become popular, Sparky’s mom would take us to the video store and we’d pick out a few things to watch while we feasted on chicken patties and chocolate pudding. We watched movies like The Dark Crystal and Legend and Krull – and I turned Sparky on to Xanadu. We were big into fantastical stories.

Sparky was goddamn genius level. She could read at an extremely advanced level and was an incredibly skilled artist. She wrote elaborate stories about worlds in the 4th dimension and drew pictures of the creatures that lived there. She created a cartoon called “Oh for Dragon’s Sake!” that was actually published in a local paper. Sparky’s creativity was boundless and she was the one that encouraged me to write my own stories. Because of her influence, I started writing a story called “Unicorn Island” about a man stranded on an island that was inhabited by unicorns, and another story called “The World’s Greatest Wimp” about a muse who helps a geeky guy become a total hunk. She drew covers for my books-in-progress – I think they might still be somewhere in my parents’ attic.

When we were about 13 or 14, her family moved to the West Coast. I was devastated, but we had already started morphing into teenagers and weren’t so concerned with expressing our creativity.

Tonight, Sparky and I chatted via instant message. We talked a bit about writing, and how it seems so difficult to find the time to create. She actually hadn’t written or drawn much in recent years, and was actively working to get back into the habit. I told her how much I had always enjoyed her writing and drawings. She said, “One thing I’m trying to do now, with writing and drawing, is recapture the fearlessness I had when I was 12 and younger. It wasn’t till 12 that I learned to hide being creative.” After she said that, I instantly realized why we had reconnected at this point in time…and I thought about the Fool.

The Fool card in Tarot comes at the very beginning of the Major Arcana. The card depicts a brightly dressed young man who is gazing at the sky and is about to fall off a cliff – nearby, his small dog is barking and jumping. What’s interesting about this card is that the man looks happy, and the dog doesn’t seem to be alarmed. Based on this interpretation, it makes you ask: is the Fool falling, or is he leaping?

Very young children have no experience of the world as being scary or frightening. Someone has to tell them to not touch the stove or to look both ways before crossing the street. Like a child, the Fool is devoid of experience that tells him to be afraid of the unexpected. He stands at the edge of the cliff because he doesn’t know any different. When the Fool comes up in a Tarot reading, he is telling us to “drop the knowing.” When we no longer look to our fears to dictate how we behave in the present, we become the Fool: trusting that if we leap, we will not fall.

Sparky and I were fearlessly creative as kids. We took the leap into our imagination over and over again, and never felt bad or wrong for it. Then something shifted and we took on the belief that it wasn’t okay to be creative. Now as adults, seeking something beyond our everyday existence, we’re playing the Fool. We’re dropping all of our fears and taking the leap back into our creativity and fantasy, completely trusting that we will not fall.

Making It So: Manifestation, the Magician, and the Movies

Last night I went to see The Prestige with some friends from my Tarot Meetup group. If you haven’t heard about this film, it’s about the rivalry between 2 magicians, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, and the lengths they will go to in order to be the better, more successful magician. Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, and David Bowie also have roles in the film.

Having just come from a meeting on Tarot, I watched this movie thinking about The Magician card. It’s part of the major arcana, which consists of 22 cards that represent archetypes. The major arcana also represent situations and psychological states of being. One of the most well-known cards in the major arcana is the Death card, which symbolizes transition, transformation, and letting go of the old so that the new can come forth.

The Magician card in Tarot represents manifestation. It’s about applying your will to a situation and calling forth what you want. In many Tarot decks, the Magician card shows a man standing in front of a table that has several tools on it. He’s got one hand raised to the heavens and one hand pointing downward, as if to say “As above, so below.” Whenever this card comes up in a Tarot reading, it’s an indication that you have the tools at your disposal to create whatever you want – you just have to make the choice as to what you desire, ask the universe or God for it, and then allow it to unfold. There’s a shadow side to this card, though: you can also use magic and manifesting to manipulate or trick others. If you lack confidence in your ability to actively create what you experience, you may end up in situations that are less than ideal.

The movie illustrated both the light and the shadow side of the Magician card. The desire to be the greatest magician was so strong for Jackman’s character, Robert Angier, that he could not listen to reason. While he was loved, talented, and well-respected, Angier was so consumed with knowing how his rival, Alfred Borden (played by Bale), performed a certain illusion, that he manipulated and tricked others into helping him find out Borden’s secret. In the end, he learned the secret, but not without first manifesting a lot of pain and suffering for himself and those around him. While Borden wasn’t exactly a saint either, he released his desire to be better and focused instead on making a better life for his child.

Michael Caine’s character, Cutter, stated the 3 parts of a magic trick at the beginning and the end of the film:

The first act is called the pledge. The magician shows you something
ordinary—but of course, it probably isn’t.
The second act is called the turn. The magician makes his ordinary something do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret, but you won’t find it.
That’s why there’s a third act called the prestige. This is the part with twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you’ve never seen before.

When I relate this structure to the Magician card, I think the 3 parts go like this:

The pledge is the vow you make. You want to create something new, better, or different in your life.
The turn is where you turn over the pledge to a higher power and say “If this is for my greatest good, make it so.”
The prestige is the part where your pledge is made manifest. Be careful what you wish for, though, because the vow will be taken very literally, and if you leave out important pieces, the prestige may not turn out exactly as you had pictured it.

I can tell you from personal experience that this method works. Try it out yourself with something small, like getting a great parking spot at the grocery store or shopping mall, and see what happens. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.

The Guy from Ladder 21

I’d like to introduce you to someone. His name is Benjamin Suarez, but his friends and family call him Benny.

I don’t know that much about Benny, to be honest. He was on the track team at his high school in Brooklyn. He was married, with 3 kids. And on September 11, 2001, he was working as a firefighter for the Ladder 21 Company in Manhattan.

I don’t know what was going through Benny’s head as he rushed to help people at the World Trade Center. My best guess is that he kept his mind focused on the task at hand. He would have been trained how to stay calm under pressure, and how to work with people who are in shock as the result of a life-threatening situation. The global magnitude of what was happening was probably not a major concern. Politics, religious fervor, and the aftermath of such an event would not be on his mind. According to his wife, there was only one thing he was thinking: he had to help the people.

Thank you, Benny, for your dedication and your courage. It’s people like you that remind us what’s really important: compassion for our fellow man.

The 2,996 Project features more than 3,000 bloggers posting tributes to those who died on September 11. Click the link in the right-hand column for more information, including a list of participating bloggers.

Mocha Madness

Several months ago I blogged about coffee and how I was looking for new options at Starbucks. This has definitely been a lesson in “be careful what you wish for”, because now I am addicted to mochas.

Backstory: in December I went to see my stylist for a haircut. She told me that she loved Starbucks’ eggnog latte but that morning had settled for an eggnog-flavored latte from the bagel shop next door to the salon. When she was finished with my hair, I decided to go down to Starbucks and get her a latte – it was Christmas time, after all, and she is a kick-ass stylist. While I was waiting in line, the barista put out some samples of peppermint mocha. One sip and I was suddenly all about the mocha.

Since then, I’ve moved on to marble mocha macchiatos. It’s something about the chocolate with the coffee that makes me so freakin’ happy. Or it could be the crack they put in with the beans when they grind them. They must put some mind-altering drug in there, because mochas have become my new comfort food. Seriously. There was one week when I think I was in Starbucks every day. Sad, very sad. And expensive, too.

I was jonesing for a mocha this morning – I started to go through the drive-thru Starbucks near my apartment but the line was too long, so I headed to the office. The entire drive to work I was lusting for a marble mocha and its mocha-y goodness.

Once I got to my desk, I debated over walking to the corner Starbucks, but just wasn’t feeling it. Instead, I went to our lunchroom and came up with a ghetto mocha (shout-out to my girl T., who invented the ghetto latte). The ingredients, in order of appearance, are:

  • A little bit of hot chocolate (we have a 7-11–style machine that dispenses chai, cappuccino, and hot chocolate)
  • French vanilla coffee brewed into the cup (from another machine – yeah, we have some fancy-ass machines in our office)
  • A little more hot chocolate
  • 1 Coffeemate nondairy creamer
  • 1 Coffeemate French vanilla creamer
  • 1 packet Sugar in the Raw

The result is pretty tasty but now I have a slight headache from all the sugar and caffeine. I don’t really want to keep drinking it, but dammit, it tastes good.

Coffee Talk

Lately I’ve been thinking about drinking coffee. I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I like the smell and the theory behind it, especially behind the flavored coffee beverages that aren’t true coffee and are crafted for non-coffee aficionados. It’s the side effects of coffee that bother me.

I tried drinking coffee once. My last experience with java was in 1999 at Seattle’s Best Coffee. I ordered a Raspberry Kiss, which featured raspberry syrup and white chocolate flavoring. After the first sip I realized that it was an espresso-based drink, and instantly my stomach seized up in terror. But I forced myself to drink at least ¼ of it – hey, that stuff is expensive, don’t want to waste it. Big mistake. The espresso gave me such bad diarrhea, I was afraid to be less than 15 feet from a toilet. Coupled with the gastrointestinal distress was severe hyperactivity and restlessness. Not a pleasant combination.

But maybe if I start off with the low-octane stuff, like a café latte, I could teach my body to tolerate it. Then I could gradually move up to the harder stuff, like cappuccino.

Oh hell, let’s face it. I just want more beverage options at Starbucks. I’m burned out on their chai and herbal tea. Plus I checked Starbucks’ website for nutritional info, and most of the coffee drinks have fewer calories than chai. Not the frappy frapness though. That stuff is lethal. All the frappy fraps look incredibly tasty, but have nutritional values that are almost as bad as a Big Mac. Yikes.

And So It Begins…

Who would have thought it would come to this? Me, a blogger? It does make sense, though. I love to write and this could serve as a forum for some of the essays I’ve written yet haven’t published. A blog could serve to propel me toward my professional and personal goals…or it could just be another means of procrastinating about actually going through the process of getting my writing published.

In any event, I’ll post some writings here, possibly a link to my website, and see what comes of it.

Onward and upward!