Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hanged Man Tells the Tale

The Hanged Man. The 2D drawing with orange lines along the sides of the tarot card offers little in the way of a threat. It's just a card.

Isn't it?

It's a just a card. How terrifying it feels to see this card placed in front of me once again.

Not like I know what it means any more than before.

Delusions of death and destruction made me choke on my chewing gum. With coughing and sputtering interrupting the reading in progress, I heard nothing past her whispery voice saying "The Hanged Man". She continued on, pointing out the cups and numbers of coins and facing up or down. Facing up or down to her or to me, though, I cannot remember.

The Hanged Man. He caught my eye.

I stood up from her folding chair and ducked out of the tent into the bright sunshine and noise of the county fair all around me. An empty cotton candy cone rolled past my feet, dancing in the afternoon breeze as screams of laughter echoed off the makeshift walls of dart throwing booths and kissing booths and jewelery stands and homemade jam stands.

Suddenly, I needed quiet. Someplace quiet, please. I walked past the last stand, a guy selling his hand made rocking chairs, beautifully polished and carved works of art and relaxation, rocking in the breeze, begging to be sat upon and enjoyed. I moved past him and his rocking chairs, past the edge of the clearing to a small stand of trees, just on the edge of the field, offering a bit of solitude and shade on a day like this.

This is where I chose to sit and contemplate. What did it mean, this Hanged Man? This man hanging by one foot from the branch of a tree? I look up above me and ponder this thought.

One moment in suspension... and clarity of a different view comes into focus.

These thoughts are too much to bear now, I'm afraid of digging too deep and finding out what I should not know or what I should already know but am choosing to ignore anyway.

He hangs. He views his world upside down for a mere whimsy of a thought, just long enough to let the loose change fall from his pocket to the ground, just long enough to let the blood rush to his head, I'm sure. Then again, the last time I hung upside down was probably the jungle gym on the playground when I was small, before they were deemed as "unsafe structures for children to climb on". There were whole adventures up there, and part of the thrill was the scare that yes, you could fall and hurt yourself, so you had to make sure your grip was strong and sure, make sure you had your hand on the next bar or your foot upon one to lift you up. The ground loomed below, daunting and inviting. Ready to catch you if you fell, ready to catch you if you jumped. If you jumped off, you were in far more control than falling, thus jumping was deemed far superior than the painful lump of falling.

Perhaps this is what the fabled hanging man saw. A world from a different view than this flat world upon which we stand. Everything was upside down. On purpose. He did not do it to fall, he was not placed there for his death, it was just to seek a sight he could not see on his own two feet upon the ground. This time the ground was above him, catching his falling change, offering to catch him if he fell. This time the tree branches held him firm, as he exercised his right to a different view of his world.

We view him as the odd man, upside down, suspended in time and place. A tarot card telling me to look at things with a different perspective, perhaps upside down to see what stuff falls away, to pause long enough and realize this whole wide world I take for granted is just there to catch me if I were to jump the same as if I were to fall.

The breeze knocks a leaf off the branch above me, it floats down to the ground in front of me, suggesting all along this may very well be true. Just because I'm right side up or upside down, doesn't mean everyone see the same thing.

Someone is throwing darts at a blue balloon in effort to win his girl the stuffed teddy bear. A child is screaming at the top of his lungs because the clown frightened him and he dropped his ice cream - but if he screams from fear of the clown or agony over the ice cream, it's tough to tell. A girl is sitting in the metal folding chair to have her fortune told, hoping the boy she likes is the one for her and hoping this lady with the whispery voice and the well-read cards will tell her this is so. A woman stands on her tip-toes to place another necklace on the jewelry booth wall hook, grabbing her back as she twists in a way that is painful and curses that this is the life she chose so many years ago but is now so entrenched she doesn't know that she, too can change her view or change her world.

I take a moment longer, to look up once again at the branches above me. I know better, this spindly tree would not hold me if I tried to climb it, so I pat the bark and sigh. Maybe having the ground catch you doesn't just have to happen if you fall or jump. Maybe having the ground catch you happens with every step you take. So I stand up and take one.

And promptly fall as I trip over a rock.

Yes, the ground caught me. It was there all along. I lay there for a moment stunned, glancing around to hope against hope no one saw my lack of grace, feeling my hands for the raw scratched and dirt on my palms. I'm ok. No one seems to have seen. I push myself back up and laugh, shaking at the adrenaline rush from the trip. Yep, seems that I changed my perspective after all, if only for a few minutes.


Tarot By Arwen said...

"Yes, the ground caught me. It was there all along." This really caught me. I enjoyed all of it but those lines wrapped themselves around my throat for some reason. Thanks for sharing this.

Melissa said...

Love this!

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