Death cards & stoplights

ChangeStoplight Games of Chance
I grew up in Nevada. Gaming was all around me – casinos, supermarkets, airports, convenience stores, many would think this is gambling (which it really is, I am not pretending it isn’t). But, a teaching point here – In Nevada it is referred to as gaming. (This portends a level playing field and sports like doesn’t it? See previous post on Perception is Everything, case in point here.) For now, let’s stick with gambling which is wagering money/stakes on games of chance. We also gamble if we take a chance with something in life. Writing this without saving my work along the way is gambling that the computer may freeze, or something could happen that I lose all of this good stuff. It has happened. I obsessively include keystrokes to save my work as I type along, <control-S>ing as we speak. Think about poker, there are many different ways to play, amounts we can bet, strategies to win. We learn to have a poker face. We play our cards close to the vest to protect our hand. I think the great philosopher had it right when he reminds us –

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser…
Thank you Kenny Rogers.

It’s true that every hand is a winner and/or a loser. There is simultaneity in these games of chance, whether they are poker or the game of life. We all have decisions to make at every turn of the hour, day, month, year, career and beyond. How we play these games is probably related to how we make decisions and approach our work with others. There are times to stay in the game and other times we move to another table and try our luck again. Every gambler knows…right?

I played poker with the tarot and four people died. Actually, that is a line from the monotone comic Steven Wright. I love his deadpan delivery. Of course, dry humor IS the highest form of comedy. Now speaking of dead I was recently thinking about the meaning of the death card in the tarot deck. Yep, I was just sitting there standing there one day and something made me think of this card and its interpretation.

Death card the big change
I was thinking about this card and what it means within a reading. I did not know there are stories associated with each of the cards. This death card is about CHANGE, EXPOSURE, TERMINATION, INEVITABILITY, and TRANSITION. Death provides a metaphor for transition. Whoa, that could be the understatement of the year, eh? Many groups and religions explain death and see it as someone making their transition somehow whether to heaven or somehow changing form and being. I love how Nichiren Buddhism explains death as a part of life, rather an extension of life itself. This concept of the self continues after our death. Think about loved ones who have transitioned and how you talk about them. We tell stories. We carry their legacy. The legacy of who they were, and what they did. The essence of their self continues forever. This forever makes it pretty important to BE while we’re alive.

If you look into dictionary about the symbolism of dreams the meaning of death, have very similar change or transition meanings. Some counseling theories/therapies make use of asking what one is dreaming about. Carl Jung discusses the meaning and uses of dreams within his writings.

The ONE thing that we can count on is change. I am not claiming that phrase as my own, but I couldn’t find anyone to credit. Whether we are moving from one grade to another, getting to graduation day, weddings, or closing out the budget year we are in a constant cycle of change and closure. While we are growing up we are transitioning (remember puberty? holy change batman).

Relationships, friendships, vacations, living spaces, jobs …Lions, tigers and bears….things end. Things change. Things die. Careers shift and things change at work and we find ourselves in transition. Some of the time we control and cause the transition and in some cases, the circumstances force our hand to move to the next chapter. In either situation, we can look at the change as a curse or a victory. The final death card is indeed pretty final. But the intermediary death cards, these are transition points and times to refocus.

Dr. Nikki Giovanni is a poet and professor. She was at Virginia Tech when the campus shooting occurred there (2007). I first noticed her work during that news coverage. Recently, I found her quote, “A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” Read it again and emphasize the E-words: Enjoy and Embrace.

Bridges’ Model
Dr. William Bridges, Change Consultant, has a transition model. Its simplicity is beautiful: Ending, Neutral Zone, New Beginning. You have to end something, go through some time of uncertainty, then begin something new. Think of a standard stoplight at the intersection – red, yellow, green.

RED – Stop. Things end. There has to be an ending. If we don’t have some termination then things are unclear, it is uncomfortable, we have unfinished business. It is like rolling through the stop sign, we know we shouldn’t and sometimes it works. BUT at some point “breaking the law” will catch up with you. Ticket.

Yellow– This is the neutral zone of what do we do now? There are no set rules. We need to get our wits about us. New normal has to be established and this time-period can be tough. When the light turns yellow there’s quick glance at the intersection, glace to the mirrors and that split second decision weighing the odds of stopping or the gun-it gamble flashes through our minds.

Green – Enthusiasm. Why didn’t I do this sooner thoughts. There is more hope than fear. We can now move on and head toward the next intersection with some confidence. We have established a new beginning. Pass Go. Collect $200.

There is life after death (um, maybe that is another blog post all together)…metaphorically speaking of course. Transitions, change, and movement are the ingredients of an exciting and adventurous process and life. We love the changes and the transitions that happen. Letting go of the control of some of these is within all of our ability. How we handle the transitions and changes is probably more of an indicator of leadership than many other things. What was your last intersection? How long did the light stay yellow? How bright was the green light in the end?

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