It’s All in How You Look at It
“Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while a great wind is bearing me across the sky.” ~Ojibwa saying
It all began with Madame Stacy at the Sunday Farmer’s Market. Sitting inside the Full Moon Woo tarot tent, I stared at the cards representing the state of affairs in my little world. In the center of the spread was the Hanged Man — my current situation. I read up on the Hanged Man (who, to be clear, is not hanged by the neck, but suspended by one foot, upside down) and the sum and substance of it is this: perspective. As in, get a new one.
I’m here to testify that Mme. Stacy’s cards do not lie. Lately I’ve found myself slipping into a monotonous, mental repetition of the oh-so-many things “wrong” in my life. That Hanged Man inspired me to change things up. I returned home from the market and, as I washed my hands, I took particular notice of the water flowing out of the faucet. I focused on what was in front of me and thought, What a blessing it is to have running water! I had just read about a little boy in Africa who walks two miles for clean running water three times a day, and the appreciation of the fact that I have water 24/7 provided a much-needed Zen slap.
Perspective is a mighty powerful thing. It can change an attitude, an outlook, or the entire course of a life. While my problems did not disappear down the drain, the shift in perspective knocked me out of my myopia and gave me enough clarity to see things from a different angle. This is the essence of the Hanged Man. Hanging upside down does not change the world around you: it changes how you see it.
We all go about in pity for ourselves, often becoming obsessed with our personal problems, which is not to say that some of these problems are not real and big and frightening. I discount no suffering, whatever size or form it takes. But however real and difficult our troubles, they are not the whole of us. Even in the midst of our misfortunes, a great wind is bearing us across the sky. It’s vital to step outside of ourselves to see the arc of this wind-swept life, to see its magnificence, and to understand that even our most terrifying travails are taking us to places of great beauty, breaking us open that we might discover something essential and beautiful in ourselves: Love. Gratitude. Appreciation. Compassion. Humility.
It is far too easy to become wrapped up in what is “wrong” in our lives, far too easy to slip into self-pity and to forget that this moment is but a point on an infinite trajectory. It’s important to pause in the midst of the turmoil, to surrender our struggle and sense of specialness. When we do, a new horizon appears and all at once, we begin to feel a powerful wind, carrying us across the sky.