Lately, I have needed to put my feet in the water. Lately, my life has been feeling so stagnant and stifled and I need to experience the flow of the river. Still no job, but I haven’t been looking for one. I’ve felt like something needs to stay on hold. Yes, I’m doing volunteer work–building my portfolio, I tell people, to ward off suspicions (in others and myself) that I’m just not doing enough, or that I’m being perverse or irresponsible.
But I have never done anything irresponsible in my entire life. Not one single thing. I make good decisions, I have my shit together. How would I have gone from the 17 year old from a working-class background and a 2.8 high school GPA to a 30 year old with a Ph.D. if I didn’t seriously have my shit together? Well, I’ve had lots of luck and privilege too, don’t I know it.
So mostly, I stay in. I knit, I read. I’ve begun a journaling practice again after letting it go for at least a year. I’ve been doing asana yoga and thinking about shadow work and soul work.
The river near me goes through many widths and depths as it winds through the city, but my favorite place is where it’s wide, fast-flowing, and shallow. People regularly struggle to get kayaks and canoes through certain spots, often having to get out in mid-calf high water to carry them to deeper areas. This summer, I have realized that getting out into nature alone must be a priority for me, and right now the river is calling.
I’ve found so much life in the fast-rushing shallows–mussels, crayfish, minnows, dragonflies and damselflies, ducks, geese. I saw an osprey diving for fish, and a painted turtle digging her nest. I sit quietly and watch; or wade slowly and turn the river stones over with curiosity and trepidation. I take my cards, too.
In May, I spent 10 days in an intensive with Joanna Macy, which is an experience I will be grateful for for the rest of my life. I brought my Mary-el with me, and while I did almost no readings for myself, I got the chance to do several readings for other people, and news of my crazy-ass tarot deck spread like wildfire among the participants. People saw and recognized the depth of Mary-el immediately.
After returning, however, I didn’t touch my cards for a week or two. I don’t know why–it just didn’t feel right. When I began doing readings for myself again, they were mostly focused around the circle teachings of the four directions. I’m still not sure what I’m doing with that, but I may write about it in the future.
I’ve been feeling the closest to my nature-centered decks: the Wildwood Tarot, the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Druid Animal Oracle, the Earthbound Oracle. I feel like my practice is shifting and deepening somehow. I’m trying to take a more intuitive turn, but it’s also been hit or miss. I think my problem is that I want to do bigger spreads (especially spreads I’m just making up on the fly) and it’s not really clicking with me. I’m sort of groping my way to a more body-centered, nature-centered way of card reading.
Looking at my site traffic (which was bizarrely high in May and nearly as high in June, despite the fact that I published almost nothing), I see that a lot of people are landing here looking for info about the Wooden Tarot. I finished the minors months ago, but looking at the majors will take more time. I haven’t even begun with them yet, to be completely honest. I tried to start soon after I finished the minors, but something just wasn’t clicking. I didn’t feel like I could find a way into them. That may begin to loosen up and change a little bit, but I imagine it will be a while before posts start going up.
Today I made up a small daily spread that may be useful to some. Right now, all of my questions are about finding my place in the world–that is, my true place. It’s a much bigger question than getting a job; it has to do with what I was born to do, and I don’t know. Remember how my word for 2016 was UNKNOWN? Well, I’m finally making it into the unknown. It may be irresponsible, perhaps, but I don’t to get a new job–a new set of responsibilities and identities, a new social scene–until I dwell in this place of unknowing a little longer. Anyway, this spread is a version of the questions that I’m asking myself all the time nowadays, so here goes.
- Today’s theme, or most important feature
- What do I need?
- What needs me?
I hope you find it useful; if you do, let me know.
I just felt the impulse to apologize for all this navel-gazing, but you know, I’m not going to apologize. It’s part of what I need, and it’s part of what the world needs from me.
Thank you for sharing this… and don’t ever apologise for sharing what you’re working through. This touched me, including some tender points I’ve been sitting with for a while. I needed to read someone else’s story. Sharing your personal journey is a generous service, not something to be sorry for. xxxx
Thank you so much, Beth. I’m a big fan of your blog and so much appreciate your personal, introspective posts, so the gratitude goes both ways. 🙂 It’s so heartening to hear that we are not alone.
Please don’t apologize for the navel-gazing. It’s important – and I agree with everything Beth said as well.
I’ve struggled to find a job after getting my B.A., through five years of burning myself out doing retail work and temp jobs, always volunteering “to build my resume”, although at this point I volunteer because I wouldn’t be myself without that work, and… it’s hard. There is so much outside pressure to say “what you do” to the world, when so many people don’t realize what it is they need to do. I’m not sure I believe that there is one purpose you’re supposed to do in the world, but I for sure believe that we need to do things that are in line with our values, and we need to do a lot of work to figure out what those values are in the first place. Spending time in jobs “just to make money” and watching my body break down has taught me that I can’t work in places that value money over community and people’s worth as people. It doesn’t work for my mind, it doesn’t work for my heart, it doesn’t work for my body even – I can’t spend another winter as sick as I have been the past few.
This all has been to say: take your time. Move at your pace. Do what you need to do for YOU. Honor those parts of yourself that you’re not used to letting into the light. It’s so important to value yourself, and that’s what you’re doing right now. You’re doing great. 🙂
Thank you so much for this, SJ. That’s what I’m really struggling with right now. I feel like I’m at a place where I’m opening up, my received beliefs about myself and the world are shifting, and I need even more time for introspection than usual. For the moment, I can financially swing being unemployed instead of taking a job that doesn’t speak to my heart. I know what you mean about “just for money” jobs. When I’m working a job that stresses me out, where I don’t feel that I’m doing anything valuable, I’m prone to anxiety attacks which manifest as feeling incredibly ill. My body says, “We need to get out of here!” and gets my attention the best way it can. I’m also prone to bouts of fatigue caused by stress which can go on for days at a time if I don’t rest properly. Working a soul-sucking job simply not sustainable for me, but unlike a lot of people I have the privilege of opting out for the moment.
Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. The be-productive-at-all-times-at-all-costs narrative of industrial growth society can wear on me at times, even if I know it’s a load of crap. The best to you on your journey of healing and figuring all this out, too.
While I don’t have anything new to add to what Beth and SJ Witchling have already said, I wanted to say, “Yes to all of that!” What you’re doing is valuable and important 🙂 ❤
Thank you so much, Tarot Donkey! 🙂
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