Sunday, January 29, 2012

1/30/12—Walking in Your Own Shadow

Today's Draw: The Ace of Pentacles from Tarot in the Land of Mystereum by J. Jordan Hoggard. What special gift, voice, talent, skill or perspective do you think you have? How does that gift show itself in your everyday life, if at all? What seed has been planted within you that is only now pushing forth into the light?

In the Imagination Primer, the book that comes with this deck, Jordan Hoggard defines the Ace as an idea that will bring an exciting opportunity to use your assets. And he mentions that every apple seed contains within it an entire tree full of fruits. That, like that seed, we have the potential to be both tiny and large at the same time. And that each seed will grow into a unique tree offering its fruit in a unique way...some will have low branches with easily picked fruit, for example, while others will need to be shaken in order to release their fruits.

I think a lot of us dream too small in our lives. We can't all be Oprah, and we need every size dream to keep the world running. But I think many of us compromise our true desires in favor of something "safe", "realistic" or something that won't hurt so much if we don't get it. And though the Ace of Pentacles might suggest this is about our work lives, I think we tend to suppress our true desires in all areas of our lives. We have sex one way because we don't know how—or are embarrassed to—ask for it another way. We don't pursue certain hobbies because we're afraid we're not talented enough. We cook the same meals over and over again, because we're afraid to fail at another way.

As far as career goes, I believe we all come here with a special skill, voice, eye, ear, talent or passion. We all have our unique way of expressing that, too. Yet so many of us set that thing aside in favor of making a certain wage, because we were told our dream was silly, out of fear of success/failure or because we were never even encouraged to look for our unique gift in the first place.

In Julia Cameron's legendary book, The Artists Way, she talks about people who are "shadow artists". They're the people who may work in the same industry as their passion, for example, but who don't do the job they really want to do. So it's the camera man who dreams of being an actor or the curator who'd love to be an artist. Or you might have a hobby you love, but for one reason or another don't make it your life's work. So it's the lawyer who waits each year for the lawn and garden show because he'd rather be a landscaper. Many years back I did advertising for a Master's Degree at Night program for a local university and was surprised to find the Landscape Architecture degree was big with people like lawyers.

So this begs the question, how many of us are pursuing our parent's dreams for us? How many believe there is nothing unique about us? How many have chosen money/security over what we REALLY want to do? And how many underestimate what we're capable of?

I've always felt fortunate because, growing up, there were only three things I wanted to be—an actress, a veterinarian and a writer. I didn't want to work hard enough to be a vet and, truth be told, dogs are the only domesticated animal I like. So it really wasn't for me. And I pursued the acting all through college, only to realize it wasn't for me, either. Until recently, the only kind of writer I've wanted to be was an advertising writer. And I've gotten to do that for 25 years. 

Now, if I'm completely honest, I'd say I'd like to have had a different career as an advertising copywriter. For example, I think I'm my best when writing for radio and TV, but I didn't pursue my career to the extent I needed to in order to be able to do more of that. I'd say there was a really good, say, 5-7 year stretch of my career that it was everything I wanted it to be, but between the energy level required to keep it going and other issues, I let myself slip back into a comfort zone. 

For probably the last 12-15 years, though, I've had a shadow career poking at that comfort zone. At first it was seed....a quiet whisper in my head. And, like a seed, it's been doing a lot of work under the surface for much of that time, only to relatively recently poke its sprout out of the ground. The first poke was when I started writing these blogs. But even they were shadows, because what I really want to be doing is more along the lines of the nature ones I've been posting the last couple of weeks. And the dream isn't to be a blogger, but to be a full-on writer and spiritual teacher/thinker.

So, this is what the Ace of Pentacles is coming to us to question within ourselves. Are we using the unique gift or voice that we were given in this lifetime? And if not, why? What seed is germinating beneath our surface? For how long? And are we walking through this life in the full light of our potential? Or in the safety of our own shadow?

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