Eight of Swords

by - January 14, 2021


What is your jail right now?  What's restricting you?  Your job?  Your thoughts?  Your guilt?  Your depression?  Your anxiety?  Your relationships?  A literal jail?  

Unless you're in actual jail, let's talk about how to break free (I cannot help you escape from jail, but maybe you can find someone who can overturn your conviction if you're innocent?).  

If your jail is your own mind due to the fact you think that deprivation is the way to be happier/better/more worthy/etc. or maybe you think that overworking yourself is the only way to get ahead in life or something else equally as "too much" or "too little" of something.  In Buddhism, we talk about the "the middle way".  The Buddha in the beginning was a spoiled prince who saw extreme poverty everywhere and thought that restricting himself to the point of homelessness and poverty for himself was the way to go.  That depriving himself was the way to spiritual oneness/enlightenment.  Turns out, it wasn't.  So he left his followers in poverty and went to back to being a prince (he was kind of a douche, in so many ways, but I'm a Buddhist, so I can say that) and found that some luxury mixed with non-excessiveness was much more conducive to a happy life, than total deprivation.  While I am not sure how true any of the Buddha's story is (it's pretty old), I do have one that's more realistic to show my point.

My father lived a life of workaholism and alcoholism.  He lived in a prison of working too much, and clinical depression that he soothed with copious amounts of alcohol.  He thought his only worth to me and my mother (and in life) was the amount of money in his bank account.  He was a man of many prisons.  Rather than work them out, he stayed in them until he died at the age of 55.  Because of his personal prisons, he provided a nice little family imposed prison for both my mother and in turn, my mother provided her own prison right back for my father and I.  I grew up in a house of prisons.  

So I grew up with my own self-imposed prisons due to the way I was "raised" (survived is more like it).  We all have them.  Sometimes we create our own.  Sometimes we inherit them from our parents or those who raised us.  Sometimes they are imposed on us by outside forces.  

But it really doesn't matter how we get them, it only matters what we do with them.  We first need to deal with the reasons we feel imprisoned in the first place.  Then we need to work on how to rid ourselves of our prisons.  If we don't address the underlying reason why we feel the need to hurt ourselves (and/or others) or let others hurt us, then how can we even begin to escape from our prison(s)?  

There are things in life that we just accept, based on our perceptions of who we are and what we deserve.  So we learn to accept certain ideas about ourselves, certain behaviors towards us, certain labels, certain treatment.  We allow these things, which build our prisons, because that's what we're used to.  

This card reminds us to take stock of our current and past prisons and really dig into the reasons those prisons were built in the first place.  Even if they are simple and boring rather than complex or dangerous, we can change the moment we realize the "why".  We can choose better for ourselves.  We can limit, eliminate, or push past and find the "middle way" instead (or in case of abuse or addictions, break free).  If my father had worked just enough to keep a roof over our heads, and also realized his worth and didn't drown his sorrows in beer and cigarettes and working sixty hours a week or more?  He may still be here.  

Do we want to get to our finale in life miserable and imprisoned?  Or do we want to find glorious redemption and be free?  The choice is ours.  I know, easier said than done, but sometimes we have dig deeper than we ever have before in order to find where our happiness is hiding. 

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