Archive | Etiquette Matters

In Shadow, Insieme

I started this day obsessing over a missing fur muffler. Then I decided the remedy for such heedless materialism was a Stephen Sondheim deep-dive. I was mainlining everything by the recently deceased lyricist/composer when I learned one former suitor had just lost everything in a fire, another had died suddenly of a heart attack. With both people, my ego needs often eclipsed my compassion. Praying for their peace, I shook my head over the big deal I’d just been making over a scarf—not to mention the raw, unmatched longing derailing both relationships. Had this intuitive learned nothing? I flashed on how being unwanted by his mother had lent that same longing to all of SS’s productions, including Marriage Story, which in its own way is also a Sondheim production—at least in this (and one other) scene.

In the rest of Noah Baumbach’s thinly disguised account of his divorce, Adam Driver channels the writer/director’s fussy, righteous narcissism. But in this rendition of “Being Alive,” the actor channels Sondheim instead—namely, the redemption he personally experienced through Sondheim’s work, through theater in general. A former Marine who found outlet for his many variations of manhood at Juilliard, Driver captures that desperate desire to transform pain and isolation into something—anything!—so there’s meaning in despair. It’s a performance that embraces each of us in our imperfections. A performance that reaches across time and space.

At heart, “compassion” simply means “suffering with.” On this first night of Hannukah, the Jewish commemoration of light in the darkness, know that you are loved, you are whole, you are held. Above all, you are not alone.

Knight of Cups, in His Cups

In nearly every intuitive reading I’ve given lately and a surprising number of Weather Reports, I’ve drawn the inverted Knight of Cards. When a card so persistently shows up, it is communicating to the collective as well as to the individual, so I felt moved to share my interpretation.

In addition to its more personal applications, The Knight of Cups is about leading from the heart rather than the ego–a yearning, a spiritual quest. When inverted, it indicates the blockage of such qualities–cynicism, dissociation, and a sensuality tipping into sensation-mongering. AKA “fill this void.” Anything can become addictive when used in this vein. Not just booze, drugs, media, and sugar, but exercise, work, “healthy” eating, and relationships. Even—ahem—spirituality.

The truth? The desire to check out—to bury our heads in some sort of sand—is profoundly understandable these days. We are living in what even a few years ago would have been perceived as a dystopia, and it’s hard to think utopically when every element of our world is in such upheaval. The dreamer in each of us wants to drown in this knight’s cups. But as long as we are lucky enough to be alive, we may not check out forever. Virgo Season asserts the holiness of moderation and an economy borne of love. Such values may not jibe with the more-is-more, pendulum-swinging prevailing ethos, but they allow us to more fully inhabit every moment and embrace the resources we still have.

As we prepare for a new week and a new month, let this Knight serve as loving reminder. “Enough” is the most sacred form of abundance–a salute to our shared heart.

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Just a Very Virgo Season Blurt

You know what’s not discussed enough? Women who don’t demand fair wages because they live off their partners or inherited wealth. It is a very problematic issue through a feminist lens, yet often not broached because there are so many taboos around talking about money and class, and because self-esteem is so tied to salary.

Women who work for less than they should set a precedent–perpetuate one, really–that makes it a lot harder for the rest of us who demand equal pay. They reinforce the assumption that women’s work need not be taken seriously. And they disrespect all the women who fought long and hard for the Equal Pay Act.

This is not just a political issue. I see this as a spiritual issue, because energy that is not adequately replenished disrupts the order of everything. Work must be honored–and in a capitalist society, adequate financial compensation is an essential expression of that honor.

It’s amazing this issue still surfaces so frequently. It is an example of something else that doesn’t get discussed enough: toxic femininity.*

*Dudes, I am no more interested in you taking up this phrase than I am accepting of how you misapply “Karen” as an all-purpose term to write off women. Redirect that impulse into developing your divine masculinity.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy