Archive | Etiquette Matters

The Horror of the Schnorrer

I’ve been thinking a lot about schnorrers. For those who didn’t grow up with a shrewd Jewish grandmother, a “schnorrer” is a Yiddish term for a freeloader–a layabout who, no matter how charming, simply doesn’t earn their keep.

Most of us have been schnorrers at some point, have drained others of their resources and good will (emotionally or conversationally, if no other way). Goddess knows I have been. I was raised by someone who wasn’t especially interested in parenting so I learned early to extract from others what I should have been getting at home. It was a habit that lasted far too long. Into my 40s, even. And when I finally began to address these habits, I turned around and started attracting schnorrers to me like flies, perhaps to understand the pain I’d caused.

The evolution from transactional behavior to open-hearted exchange is a really challenging one, especially in a country that espouses a dog-eat-dog individualism that conflates self-possession with selfishness. But I’ve been working with this concept a lot, especially in my intuition practice, where I bent so far backwards to prove I wasn’t a con artist that I did myself great harm in the first year of the pandemic.

This last year has been one of learning better boundaries, no matter how tough it can seem, to build infrastructure that supports everyone. Not offering free guidance because ultimately it’s not free to me and my health. And not expecting loved ones to provide more care than they have to give. It’s about the transition from survival to thrival (yes, I know that’s not really a word) and I’m still learning how networks based on compassion rather than credit can exist, let alone flourish.

All to say that today I drew a new line. In the past I would have felt so defensive that it would’ve translated into anger at the other person. Today I did it lovingly, even if they didn’t experience it that way. I felt compassion for their unconsciousness, compassion for the part of myself that so anxiously needs others to be in agreement with me. All in all I still feel shaky. Isn’t that always the case the first time we exert a muscle?

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.

Book a reading or check your Whether here

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