That rare moment of simple easy communion. So much laughter and ease between us that it seems perfectly natural to say, Okay, so now let’s read your cards. And this steadfastly rational young man says, Fine. (For the first time.) Maybe it was that crazy Enigma deck that intrigued him, or maybe he too was caught in the joy of the moment, when the sparring of logical argument dies down in a gentle breeze of openness, affection, love.
The thing is, it’s hard for him to find a question for the cards. He’s not used to wondering what will happen. He makes things happen (or so he believes) just the way he likes. He’s the most golden-haired of boys at his state university–full scholarship plus stipend plus travel funds plus plus plus. In his first year, and he’s already working in a research group, planning his year abroad, interviewing entrepreneurs for the university website. Next year he’ll be a teaching assistant. But: consistent complaints that the courses are too easy; the novelty of having a 113% average has worn off. He feels he’s already climbed all the available peaks. “I’m already topped out there. There’s nothing more I can do except start a business. I want to transfer to MIT.” Whoa.
Assuming he could manage a transfer, jumping out of Little Pond means giving up a lot of Big-Fish. He’d be just another average hungry near-genius in a pack of them, no one special. The courses would be more challenging, hopefully, but that means he wouldn’t have time for all the research and entrepreneur stuff and the money he loves to earn from that. Oh, and speaking of money, he’d be giving up the scholarship–gulp. (Though of course he has a plan for that. He has a lot of spreadsheets.)
Asking Will I get in? doesn’t appeal. He’s a pragmatist, thinks it worth the effort to try and knows all is in a flux he’s sure to help shape. Okay so let’s ask the cards: How would it be at MIT versus how would it be to finish out where you are? He’s good with that.
First card down speaks to the issue. Hierarchy. MIT is waaaayyy higher in the academic pecking order than where he’s at. Besides the stimulation of being surrounded by people more brilliant than him, this move is about the entry pass he hopes the name-school will give him. (He’s consulted with those who have that pass, and they acknowledge its continued usefulness in their careers.) He accepts the Hierarchy card as a logic opening comment, though he’s not gaga-impressed by its relevance.
Top line: what it would be like if you go to MIT. New Moon–The Heart (Love and Hate)–First Quarter Moon.
Bottom line: what it would be like if you stay where you are: Knowledge–The Universe–Messenger.
We look at the cards together. I mention how stark the top line looks. But before I can say more, he says he likes the top. So, I don’t need to be the card reader here, much less the mystical advisor. I’m just laying out the options for client review. If you go to MIT it’s going to be grueling, I say, not much fun or touchy-feely from the looks of it, but you go from New Moon to First Quarter. You grow. You are waxing in your light. If you stay where you are, you do get knowledge–but more than that, you get the message that the universe is yours. This knowledge of (from?) the universe seems more holistic, all-embracing. Where might it lead? I’m more curious than he is, I can tell.
Personally, I’m a bit spooked by the visual of the top line. A tortured heart sandwiched between the austere geometry of two circles. All those flowing lines on the bottom are way more attractive to me. Not so to my questioner. He’s fine with Spartan boot camp. What’s a love/hate relationship to a guy who’s nicknamed Mr. Spock? Suck it up. He’s not interested in holistic growth, he’s a bright young man itching to stretch his brain and his ambition and his place in the world. I’m glad I had the sense to just let him assess the cards himself and shut up. He is not looking for advice.
I’m impressed by how we agree on the basic interpretation of the two lines, yet we have different reactions to them. Would come to different decisions, even. There’s a kind of objectivity: the cards don’t tell you what to do, just what you’re in for. He’s less impressed with that, of course. Why read cards, he asks without actually saying so. Well, didn’t the cards describe pretty accurately the feeling of each of your options? He admits that–rather weakly I think. And so it clarified for you what you wanted. To which he says he already knew he wanted to go to MIT. Still, he acknowledges the value in having a second opinion, stochastically generated (this word seems to have a brightening effect on him). We talk a bit about the value of looking at something from a totally different angle. Of having a visual metaphor for a situation, thus activating other parts of your brain. He seems to agree with that. And how cool and mysterious it is that random cards can speak to the issue at hand. (I pretend I’m not putting quotes around the word “random.”) He maybe agrees with me on this one. I’m secretly happy that our experiment hasn’t gone awry; the easy closeness between us remains intact despite this venture into the woo.
Later, in the spirit of experimentation, I say: What if the lines had been reversed? If Knowledge–The Universe–Messenger represented MIT, and New Moon–Love and Hate–First Quarter was your current school? Would you feel differently about the two options, or would you interpret the cards in such a way that you still came to the same conclusion?
We agree that MIT is a Universal Messenger advertising his Knowledge–he’d have the calling card, the pass. Back to Hierarchy. And certainly it’s THE place to learn about the universe, in that narrow tech-y sense. What about the other line? Well, he already has a love/hate relationship with his current school–it’s so easy, they want to help him so much, he’s got friends there he’s known for years–yet he’s chafing, wanting bigger challenges. The pond is too small, its temperature too cozy. And in a cup-half-empty way, the growth we read in the First Quarter Moon now seems like only half-growth, incomplete and just not enough.
Either way, I want to go, he says.
Cards: Enigma deck by Daniel Martin Diaz
Words and images © 2019 by the author