Generally speaking, our culture is frightened of loss, one of the greatest of which is death. It is a subject that makes people squirm as they try to avoid discussing it. We have all sorts of euphemisms for it, we shield children from it and many of us struggle to cope with the idea of our own mortality.
In a Tarot reading, people come unglued when they see the Death card appear. They think it means they're going to die and once again, we see this aversion to the entire subject. But the Death card means change, transformation. It means death in a symbolic way, followed by rebirth.
And with rebirth comes a new beginning, a fresh start.
Physical death is like this, too, as we shed our bodies and return to the spirit realm. It is simply a transformation, but one that those people left in the earthly realm do not always accept easily.
Endings and beginnings...beginnings and endings...you cannot have one without the other. Too often, endings are not by our own choice, which can make the new beginning at least as difficult. Sometimes even though we need or want change, and we just wish this or that could happen, we're still hanging on to what we've got with a 'have your cake and eat it, too' attitude.
But too often, this is not how it works. In order for those changes to occur, and for us to get the desired result, we must let go of what we've got now and make room for whatever comes next.
I used to be unbearably sentimental about 'stuff'. I had the most ridiculous keepsakes - ticket stubs, corks from wine shared on a special evening, bits of wrapping paper from special gifts, napkins, swizzle sticks, tiny plastic toys from boxes of popcorn, every card and letter I was ever given, and countless items so silly I can't even remember what they were.
And of course there were more 'normal' items to which I attached myself. Furnishings, ornaments, dishes - and like many people, there was 'my mug'. How many people are very possessive about a particular mug they use for their coffee or tea? Or about their favourite chair at the table, or where they sit in the sitting room? Sheldon's "spot" on the Big Bang Theory, or Archie Bunker's chair on All In The Family...
I used to be very connected to my 'stuff' and even more so to any of it that had even remotely sentimental value.
When I say 'stuff', I'm not just talking about material possessions either. I'm also talking about aspects of my life that were important to me. A relationship or friendship, an activity I loved, or some part of my life that I didn't think I could do without.
I kept focusing on the losses and was so immersed in grief I couldn't stand to be in my own skin.
With an ongoing theme of loss throughout my life, eventually I thought I ought to figure out what I could learn from it so it wouldn't feel so awful.
First, I realised that as long as I focused on the losses, I wouldn't see the many blessings that remained.
Secondly, I discovered that with loss (and all challenges) comes the opportunity for a huge perspective shift. It's a chance to look for the positives, to focus on the happy memories or relationships that are associated with whatever it is that is changing or gone.
And thirdly, there is the Buddhist view that all suffering comes from attachment, and I can certainly say that the less attached I am to any 'stuff', the happier I am because when the 'stuff' goes, without attachment it cannot hurt.
And there is another important point to remember. It's in not focusing on the letting go, the ending, or the completion. It's in focusing on the fresh start, the new beginning and what lies ahead.
Yes, it may be frightening to walk down a new and unfamiliar road, leaving behind everyone and everything familiar. But if that new road has been presented to you, there is a reason for it. You must let go of the old, the stale, the stagnant and finished, and embrace the new, the fresh, the expanding and beginning. Before long, you'll have walked through the endings and blended straight into the beginnings, living the Death card and experiencing rebirth and the magic of renewal. It's a chance to create something different, something better.
The Wheel of Life will always mean there are endings. But the good news is, you cannot have an ending without a beginning.
Sure, you can fear beginnings if you want to do that, but it's better to see them as exciting adventures. A positive attitude will go a long way to reducing the impact of any speed bumps or potholes on that new road so buckle up and don't look back; you already know where you've been.
Now let's see where you're going!
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