Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Zero is the Number of the Fool

first appeared: Sunday, September 16, 2007 4:36:23 PM

I still remember my first deck of Tarot Cards. A set of A.E. Waite's Original Rider Tarot. Back then, I thought there was some secret power in the cards, and if I had the ability to read them properly, I could see the future. I pulled the little string, pulled off the plastic, opened the box, and held them in my hands for the longest time. They felt cool, in more ways than one. Then, out of the blue it hit me, that "new card smell", unlike any other I had ever known, it was like "scratch - n - sniff" spirituality. I was hooked.

As I started looking at the cards, visions of grandeur began to fill my head. I saw myself as a world renowned reader of the cards, an old hermit guy in a storefront with strange critters in cages, and even stranger ones in glass jars, and a few other scenes I choose not to reveal. As I took it all in, the slick coated paper, the intoxicating odor, the thought of secret spiritual superpowers, I must admit, it was all a bit overwhelming.

Now what?

Well, that was was a little over 30 years ago, and the now what, as it turns out, was for me then and still remains for me now the key question of the ages. Back then, I picked up the box and shook it and out fell a tiny book. Cool! This is better than the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks. I felt a new serge of enthusiasm as I set the cards aside and thumbed through the tiny instruction manual. As it turns out, that little book held the secret of the magical cards, and set me on the path I followed for a good part of the rest of my life. Actually, I still fall back on that secret whenever I get stuck, and find myself asking the "now what" question. I read the instructions.

By far the most fascinating character in the deck of the Tarot is The Fool. It has a numerical value of Zero, some very cool symbolism, and contains every color (somewhere on the card) of every other card in the deck. The Fool is, for all intents and purposes an androgynous, youthful individual, who is beginning a quest. More has been written about the fool, and the card of the fool than pretty much any other card in the deck. 

It is obviously the jumping off point of any adventure in life, or so it seemed to me, since the figure is about to step off a cliff. The interpretations of the card are as numerous as the people who who try to give it meaning. Perhaps the fool knows more than anyone gives him credit. Perhaps the cliff is no cliff at all, but simply another step in a very large natural staircase. It is unknown to the one looking on, since the amount of space represented is no more or less that the space of the ledge behind him. Nipping at his heels, his faithful companion, or familiar, appears very excited about the journey. And with good reason it would seem, since the dog does not have opposable thumbs with which to pull the ripcord on the parachute it might need to keep from going splat on the canyon floor.

Perhaps the fool knows everything he needs to know, hence his carefree attitude, and appearance of utter fearlessness, as he and his knapsack step forward into the journey which is his life. Hey, he has thumbs, right? So I guess in the end, this journey we call life is a lot like the fools journey. It's really all in the interpretation of the circumstances, based on the knowledge we have at the moment, (or lack of), and our desire to step into the adventure which is our life.

The way I see it, there is no sense of being afraid of the unknown, of which death seems to be the ultimate. I have not met anyone in my 45 years who has gotten out of this life alive. Nor have I met, as of yet, anyone who has come back to tell me what to expect. I don't rule them out altogether, since that really limits my options, but I don't wait around for them to appear either, for the very same reasons. 

I have learned to accept a few basic facts, if for no other reason than to maintain my hold on the reality before me, which I have placed into the blueprint for my life. The first is, we all die. It doesn't matter what comes after, because when I get there I'll have a whole new blueprint to work from, so dwelling on that unknown, is taking away from the very limited time I have here, with which to experience all that this world has to offer. Everything changes. For good or ill, nothing in this life remains the same from one moment to the next. Everything is in a constant state of becoming something, or something else. Whether it's that cow-pie I passed along the road of life, steaming, giving off an odor all it's own, or the ingredients of that actual steaming pile, which were one thing, and became another, only to become something more. Everything in this world has a cycle. It comes into existence based on a very specific blueprint for what it is meant to be. It serves it's purpose, lives it's life, does it's thing, and then goes on to become something else. Every living thing is in a constant state of growth, either towards life, or towards death, both are unknowns of equal unknowableness, and when you get right down to it, both equally as scary.

So in the end, it's all about living I suppose.

Now What?