Greetings and gratitude, y’all! I hope you’re all settling into the new school year well. Here’s the vibe check for the next two weeks. I’ll explore the overall theme, discuss the main challenge and give advice on how to overcome it. Now, take a minute to close your eyes, become mindful of your breathing and sit comfortably in this moment. Read on when you feel calm and relaxed. Good? Great.
For the overall theme, I drew the Nine of Wands. The suit of wands is associated with the element of fire and deals with passion, drive, ambition and hard work. The nines represent that final push before the fruition of the tens. The Nine of Wands speaks specifically to this sense of growing momentum and effort. There is a clear road ahead of you with clear steps to take. Though college can feel overwhelming and disorienting, especially to my fellow first years out there, this card should come as a comfort. To me, this reminds me of a line from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”: “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” You are on this path for a reason, and you are not straying from it. No matter where you find reassurance, stability and support, it is there for you. Look to a friend, a professor, a teammate, a family member—everywhere around you, there are others who have gone through what you’re experiencing or are going through it right alongside you. Look to them and keep moving forward.
For the main challenge, I drew the Four of Swords. Air is the element of swords; communication, cognition, conflict and intellect are under its domain. The fours deal with stability, but sometimes stagnation. In this case, the Four of Swords is talking about TAKING A BREAK! Be careful not to stretch yourself too thin—in your haste to follow the Nine of Wands’ path, you risk feeling burned out, overburdened and exhausted. You may be spending so much time on one thing that you neglect other areas of your life—academics, athletics, social time, “you time.” Notice how there isn’t a need to take a break from any one particular area of life—like academics—but rather, whatever has been demanding most of your time. Of course, given that this card belongs to the suit of swords, pay special attention to academics and matters of the mind. How much time have your classes been taking up? Homework, paper, studying for assessments, attending office hours, Zooming into lectures—it all adds up. This certainly would go along with the Nine of Wands—you’ve been grinding at the start of the semester, yet already you might be neglecting the equally important aspect of rest. With every in-breath comes an out-breath. And every in-breath needs an out-breath. You need to remember to maintain that balance in your life. Reassess what you’ve been spending your time working on. Have you been working non-stop for a course? Exercising all hours of the day? Always making plans with friends with few breaks in between? Take some time to look at how you’re spending your time, and ask yourself how you’d like to spend your time so that you meet your obligations and maintain your sanity at the same time.
For the advice, I drew the Six of Swords. Look at what good things there are in your life here at Bowdoin. A high school English teacher of mine shared this saying with us: “Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses.” Where there is rain, there can be a rainbow. Not every day is good, but there is good in every day—do I sound like a tacky motivational poster yet? But really, cliches aside, your experience of the next two weeks is closely tied to what you focus on. Of course—some things just ?suck?. There’s no getting around that, nor ignoring it. But if you focus only on what doesn’t go your way, you’ll feel you’re constantly losing. Without ignoring problems, take time to move your mind away from them. Look at how the light filters through the trees. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, try to taste the different scents on the breeze. At night, listen to the crickets and the stillness of the night. Look at how the light bends around the moon. Look at the stars. The way your breath hangs in the cool air. The slow burning of leaves as they fall from the trees. What do you love? What can you see? For ages, my mom has been encouraging me to start a gratitude practice. Take some time at the end of the day and write down at least three good things that happened to you today. They could be anything. And, if you keep with it, you’ll see as you go on that it becomes easier and easier to name more and more good things. I like to think of it like this: when you’re walking outside, you could either look at your feet or the towering trees, the sweeping ocean, the vault of the sky. No matter where you look, you’ll still be in the same place, but your focus—and thus your experience of that place—can be wildly different.
I hope my reading has given you some clarity and guidance as you move forward. Sending peace and good vibes!