2 of Coins: Choices
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2005-10
We live in a consumer oriented society. Everyday we are bombarded with images, messages and jingles that try to sway us to make a decision to purchase or participate in what the advertiser is offering. It is as if our whole concept of personal freedom is being reduced to an issue of consumer choice. We go merrily along chasing that dangling carrot that promises to make our life better and more complete if only we have this TV, this car, this perfume, this beauty product, this knick knack, this doodad, while we wear clothes by this designer and drink this beer or this wine or this bottled water. Of couse, it is all marketed under some certain and specific brand name, endorsed by some celebrity somewhere, who is being paid enormous sums of money for the use of their image. It does seem like we have lost sight and control of what the really important choices in life are. The priorities and considerations that really could set us on a path to contentment, happiness and emotional fulfillment are swallowed up by a sea of commercial exploitation.
The 2 of Coins in the Tarot is often considered to be a card relating to making decisions and choices. Traditional imagery often depicts a young person running on a beach carrying two coins which are surrounded by the infinity symbol. This indicates to me that choices and decisions are sacred and have long lasting impacts both in this life while we live it and on this world when we leave it. There are very few things in life that are absolute - life begins with sex and ends with death, all accumulation ends in dispersal and all meetings end in separation. There are very few problems in life that any one of us will face that other people will not have to face as well. The difference will be in how we choose to handle ourselves with the people, places and situations which life will put in our path.
We can choose to change our hair colour, our style of dress, our way of speaking and plastic surgery allows us to change our appearance dramatically. These are external changes though, and while they may boost us temporarily, they do not change who we are in our heart of hearts. We have choices to make everyday. We can spend more time worrying about what we are going to wear or how our hair looks than we do thinking about what we are doing to have the experience of happiness in our lives, or bring some into the lives of those around us. We can choose to be happy or unhappy every morning. We can choose to be loyal or we can choose to betray. We can choose to intentionally ignore or exclude people or we can choose to offer a simple greeting and a welcoming smile that includes others. We can choose to be judgmental, condescending, too cool for ourselves, jealous or vengeful or we can choose to be tolerant, forgiving, comfortable, comforting and accepting.
We make many choices everyday without consciously being aware that we do - but sometimes those choices are quite conscious. These choices are made with both our emotions and our reasoning. We all know that we have our own personal flaws in our emotions and thinking which have been coloured by our experiences, observations and knowledge. We choose who we love and who we hurt. We choose to repeat or ignore hurtful gossip and rumours. We choose if we share a compliment or succumb to envy or petty jealousies. We choose to value our friendships or to use our friends as a way to move ourselves forward or feel superior. We choose to pass judgments on others and we choose the parameters of that judgment. We can lift someone up with our words or we can tear them down - we can also just deafen them with silence. We can touch someone's heart or we can spew poisonous venom in their face. If we balance our emotional thinking and our rational thinking, we can make better and more appropriate choices.
This is one of those wonderful internet stories that arrived in my email one day. The author is not known but it is a story about choices and one worth sharing.
"Jerry is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.
"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."
I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in the restaurant business...h e left the back door open one morning and was held up at gun point by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live."
"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Jerry continued, "...the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'BULLETS!'
Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead'." Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything."
Somewhere down the road of life we all reach the same doorway. It won't matter then how fancy our house was, what kind of car we drove, what music we listened too, how cool our friends were or how many there were. It won't matter how many fancy vacations we could or couldn't take or how much money we did or didn't have in the bank. Our only true legacy will be the memories that others will have of us. We can choose to make a good or better choice or waste a lot of time of trying to make a bad choice right.
Choice is always a learning experience. We can share love or we can share hate - these are two things that are guaranteed to spread and grow. All that will really matter is the love, trust and intimacies we have shared and not our pursuit of the manufactured illusions of consumer freedom, financial success and a misplaced sense of adventure. The bottom line on all of this: it is your choice.