I used to be quite into astrology, tarot cards and alternative ways of finding meaning. I was chasing those spiritual meanings in a divine universe and aspiring to be at one with the world. Then one day, I went to have breakfast with one of my oldest friends. I had brought along my spiritual empowerment cards to cheer him up from a pretty bad time.
“No. I don’t want to pick a card. I don’t want to invite that misery into my life!”
He shut me down cold. I was shocked but then he explained what he had arrived to when experiencing the lowest of the low.
“The more I believe in stuff like that, the more I look for the answers outside me. If I keep looking at other things to prop me up and give me hope, I won’t discover how to find it for myself. The answers are inside me, not outside!”
Frankly, I was bemused. We continued on with breakfast and talked of other things. I went home, pulled the cards out of my bag and shrugged it off as him being peculiar and difficult.
A week later, I knocked over a file full of astrology charts. My chart spilled out- one that had been calculated by an ex-boyfriend. At the time, it had been like some kind of self improvement map he’d referred to guide me. According to the chart, there was a lot of things I needed to work on.
But when I looked at it, I saw the calculations he’d done were incorrect. It meant in effect that all the House positions (which determine the psychology behind the planet positions) were wrong. I did my chart ‘correctly’ and found out I was quite sublime.
Or was I?
It was the first time I realised how subjective these things can be. It was like he had used an astrology chart in a covertly aggressive way to prove his point. I wanted to believe in who I was, so I looked for the highlights.
Sitting at a tarot card reading days later with a friend conducted by his ex (always a bad combo really) I saw how she manipulated the card’s meanings to make him feel bad. He was buying into it. I started countering with a “what about this” routine and she got pretty steamed pretty quickly. It derailed her backhanded intentions.
On a less sinister note
At the office, I was asked for my ‘advice cards’ each Friday over drinks. I started noticing how much people requested another card when they didn’t like the meaning. If on the other hand it satiated a desire, it was cheered for being ‘spookily accurate’. No matter how many cards went before it.
A funny mailer demonstrated the disparity between an English teacher’s idea of meaning and what an author may have actually meant. I laughed and then realised something very important about the meaning behind all books. We find what we want to find and are guided to find, which may not always be what the author intended at all. This includes all manner of holy books and spiritual scripts, especially ones that are old or undergone multiple translations. It’s pretty much impossible to know exactly what the author intended.
That brutal rejection woke me up
All the time spent trying to “find the meaning within the universe” was stopping me from being me. I realised it was just a comforter wrapped around my ears to drown out the nagging voices I thought were on the outside. I suddenly realised those voices were inside of me!
I acknowledged some people find guidance and gain from joining the dots in special ways, but it was actually holding me back. It was giving me excuses, externalising my problems and even giving me an excuse to be an arsehole to other people (and other people an excuse to me an arsehole to me).
What I worked out is this-
Everyone’s idea of happiness is different, and that’s perfectly fine. We come equipped with being able to like ourselves and our lives. We just need to find it.
There are no right answers. There are just the answers we most attach to. Once we attach to an idea, we stop looking for the other possibilities. We design our world and all the information around us to make that initial decision more valid. Humans have a history of being wrong about science as an example, why shouldn’t it be the same for things that are far more subjective such as spirituality?
Happiness is an incredibly personal experience made up of teeny tiny threads of how you experience things, how you feel and the dreams you hold dear. No matter how much we want to share our version of it, ultimately it’s impossible to do so. Isn’t that wonderful?
Happiness isn’t a pyramid scheme and therefore you don’t need other people to buy into your version of it. What works for you is great. Just because someone else doesn’t find the same comfort and joy doesn’t make them clueless.
The bottom line for me:
- I’ve become less interested in understanding what the universe means and more interested in discovering what it means to other people.
- It’s far more interesting to ask people questions and understand how they came to a conclusion than to go prepared with a conclusion already in mind.
- I love life a lot more understanding there is no such thing as a right answer.
Am I right? Wrong? Ignoring vital facts? Feel free to investigate it with me. I love to know what your point of view may be!