Letting Go and Dealing with “Death”

8: Death (Tarot deck unknown)

Don’t let the name of the card discourage you just because it’s Death.  I can’t tell you how many times people freaked out and said “Oh my God! It’s Death!!! Am I going to die?!” I just laugh because part of this card’s message is about the unknown.  This card is misunderstood on many levels so let me clear up the unknown message here.

We are all going through a transition while here in college.  A lot of it has to do with ending things and beginning a new opportunity.  That is the main message that the Death card entails; the death of something but the birth of something else.  Now, we all know that the human body eventually dies off so there is no subject like that whatsoever regarding this card; it is not physical death.  It’s basically about change—ending something, but beginning something else in its place.

Some decks draw Death as a skeletal figure dressed as a Knight riding on a horse.  I chose to illustrate the Deviant Moon Tarot deck, obviously very differently illustrated, because I found that this illustration had a better picture of what’s going on.  Picture if you will the little creature being trampled upon as the person that is you that you want to change.  The bigger creature is then you that you should be transforming yourself into.  Basically what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop our old habits and move on.  The creatures illustrated are also drawn with a skeletal head of a horse.  This represents our basic instinct of when we know when it’s time to let go.  There is also a ship in the background which symbolizes our old habits being sailed away.

Forgiveness is another message Death generates.  It’s to “bury the hatchet” and let go of our rage and bitterness.  Having done that, Death will give us energy to give a whole new perspective on attentiveness and development.   But the flip side is that not many of us are so easily accustomed to change.  Even though in our minds we may know that it’s time to move on, we subconsciously create a wall of excuses and we stay where we are.  It kind of serves as a security blanket because of the familiarity it provides.  So we may stay in an emotionally harmful relationship or a bad job all because we know what to expect and are too afraid to see what else is out there; what may be available in the future—the unknown.  But if we build up the strength to let all the old habits go, we can create for ourselves a more genuine experience.

But to gain this experience, we must be able to create closure, forgive, and basically just let go of what might be standing in the way of our future plans.  The “shadow” side to the Death card is that you could end up ending the relationship or projects in an untimely way or as the book by Paul Quinn, Tarot for Life, states “affecting an attitude of nonattachment as a defense against the fear of loss.”  This means that we could be denying the truth when we’ve lost something or refusing to let go and move on.

So, like it is portrayed in the Death card shown, overpower your old self, let the ship take away your old bad habits, and begin something that you’ll really appreciate in the end.  One last sentence that Quinn said that stuck with me also was, “the ego’s fears of losing control are as intense as its terrors of a literal demise.”

Students Travel Overseas to Attend Marist and Play Tennis

From left to right: Nicolas Pisecky, Coach Tim Smith, and Joris van Eck

Published in the Diversity Works Newsletter of Marist College in Spring semester 2010.

Marist College has served students well in the academic field in many ways.  It is a excellent school for business, communication and the college provides many clubs to help get students more involved with college life and to help them meet people from around the world—As far around the world as say Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Junior Nicolas Pisecky and freshman Joris van Eck have traveled half way around the world to come to Marist College to exceed both in their academic life as well as to play the sport of their passion: Tennis.

Pisecky has traveled from Lausanne, Switzerland coming to Marist to major in international business with a minor in global studies.  He speaks multiple languages including French (his first language), Swiss German, German, and English.  His friend from home, Loic Sessagesimi, a senior, has recommended Pisecky to the head coach of tennis, Tim Smith, to consider a college career here at Marist in both academics and sports.

“I was pretty excited,” said Pisecky.  “I was kind of lost at first since I didn’t speak English and Loic was my only connection.”

In Europe, the colleges do not have programs where they allow students to play a sport and go to school simultaneously which made Marist more of a reason for Pisecky to come to the U.S.

“I had a good scholarship here and I liked the place, so I didn’t even try to look for any other schools,” said Pisecky.

Upon entering Marist, Pisecky was given a tennis scholarship. Since beginning his tennis career at Marist, he has won awards such as “Player of the Week” and the tennis team has won the MAAC Championship in 2008 and 2009.

“I knew his ranking and it was similar to Loic’s,” said Coach Smith.  “And Loic has been a tremendous addition to our team.  So I knew Nic would fit right in academically and to the tennis team.”

Not only does Marist have a couple talented tennis players from Switzerland, but has just recruited an individual from the Netherlands.

Joris van Eck from Maastricht, Netherlands transferred to Marist in spring 2010 majoring in international business.  He speaks multiple languages, just as Pisecky, including Dutch, Spanish, German, French and English.

“New York is totally not what I expected,” said van Eck.  “They [the tennis staff] help you more here, they really care about you.  In the Netherlands, it’s more about being independent.”

Eck heard about Marist while playing in a tennis tournament in Belgium, Spain from one of his competitors Dennis Mertens who happened to work for a company named Overborder.com, sports and studies in the USA, which specializes in students studying abroad.

“The location [of Marist] is good and I want a job in business,” said van Eck.  “And after a few days I felt comfortable, it was not hard for me to adapt.”

The tennis team has been a great resource for both Pisecky and Eck to meet people.

“It was nice to have international teammates,” said Pisecky.  “Even though they’re not from the same country, they’re more similar than American people.  It’s nice to have both European and American friends.”

This year, the tennis team has international players from Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, and Australia.  In the past they have had athletes from Paraguay, Mexico, Norway and Austria.  From the U.S., they have had players from New York to California with Iowa, Missouri, Texas and Arizona.

“When I think of diversity, I think geographic as well as cultural,” said Coach Smith.  “In the past 11 years at Marist, I had players from 20 states and 17 countries.  Now that’s diversity.”

Coach Smith grew up in a middle sized town outside of Buffalo, NY.

“Having the good fortune of my dad being an athletic director and my mom special ed., we had kids on our teams from numerous ethnic and cultural backgrounds tossed in with the special needs children my mom taught,” said Coach Smith.

He has also spent part of his life in the Navy.  Coach Smith’s ship was stationed in Japan for a world’s fair and while in Japan, he visited the Hiroshima Museum.

“It was in the navy that I was exposed to many cultures and had my first hand experience with feeling like a minority,” said Coach Smith.  “There was probably 75 to 100 people in the museum when I first went in and I was the only Caucasian.  No one spoke English and everything was in Japanese; I felt very alone.”

But this experience, he said, has made him more aware of diversity.

“I think that this has made me more aware to ensure that in my coaching, I utilize the opportunity to bring students from different racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds,” said Coach Smith.

One of Coach Smith’s favorite tennis players and a person he has had a chance to do workshops with was Arthur Ashe, a professional African American tennis player.

“What a role model for the importance of having encouragement and putting diversity into your own life, your family and people you teach or coach,” said Coach Smith.

But coming from Europe to America, most people would agree, is not an easy thing to do.

“I think it’s easier if you play a sport and you play on a team than coming here not knowing anyone,” said Pisecky.

Eck also felt that the tennis team played a great role in finding friends as well.

“They were my first friends,” said van Eck.  “I really enjoy spending time with them, on court and off court.  They all came here for the first time [the international players] and they know how exactly to deal with it and it made me feel comfortable.”

When coming to a new country, all international students must learn to adapt to the new environment and accept the cultural differences.

“People in American don’t know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland,” said Pisecky.  “So they always think I speak Swedish.  People are curious—they want to know how it is back home and what language I speak, I get that a lot.”

The language barrier was also a concern for Coach Smith in determining the proficiency of English of the students.

“I guess if a student can speak three languages, they can navigate through Marist academic courses,” said Coach Smith.  “My international students collectively have an average over a 3.5 GPA and all have graduated.  That’s no brag, just fact.”

When asking both athletes, if given the opportunity to do it all over, if they would choose Marist again, they both said yes.

“Definitely,” said Pisecky.  “I like it here.”

Coach Smith has also played an important role in these students life and has made a bond with them through the sport of tennis.

“I’ll tell you when I’ve formed a good bond with my players,” said Coach Smith.  “When they invite me to their wedding.”

Let the Chariot Pull and Go Forth

From the Rider Waite Tarot

So here we are again in our first, second, third, or final year at Marist College.  We are all entering into a state of shock probably wondering where the time went.  College is a place where you test your individuality and face what you fear the most.  What most of us call the “real world” starts, what we think, to be when we’re out of college.  But really, it starts here, today, in the present of reality.

The Chariot signifies us facing away from our past and from our confinement of childhood (let’s face it, most of our parents still tried to control us in high school) to prepare ourselves to venture into the world of college to prove a larger world waiting for us in the near future.  To be prepared for such an adventure that we may or may not be ready for, we must be courageous and we must be purposefully charging ourselves into the challenges that are set in our way for advancement.  The Chariot’s number, seven, signifies just that: advancement.  Paul Quinn’s Tarot for Life does excellent comparisons.

As we leave the comfort of our home, we bring with us parting gifts from our loved ones.  These parting gifts that we take with us symbolize the love that our family has for us.  It is not only difficult for us to leave the flock, but for our parents to see us sore into adulthood.  We see the Chariot’s rider holding the Magician’s wand which shows the riders ambition and power to manifest what he wants the most out of this life journey.  The two sphinx like creatures at the bottom represent our polar opposites within ourselves that will ultimately pull the chariot in the right direction.

They serve as our protection and our conscious self to make sure that our ego does not get involved when making decisions.  The very idea that we are finally on our own away from our parents can often lead to zealous behavior which then conflicts with our ego and those who are in our path of our chariot get trampled along the way.  This can also be caused by the fact that we are afraid of being on our own.

Notice the invisible reins that are controlled not by us, but by a higher authority.  This could be a professor that we become close to and that will help us to achieve what we want the most.  These professors can help us to move beyond our ego-driven selves to see the bigger picture that living life doesn’t have to be done alone.  We are not solely in charge when we don’t want to be; there will always be help.

Getting back to the two sphinx like creatures, notice that they are both looking in opposite directions.  This signifies our opposing directions in which we may not know which path to take.  This could mean that you may have a thought that you want to pursue, but a rational doubtful thought stands in your way.  You must have self-trust to overcome this thought and understand that your ambition and self-driven awareness that college is where you want to be is the right path for you.  You chose this path to college in the understanding that this experience will lead to a better life.  Rather than waiting for things to get better, just say “Screw it” and let the chariot pull full force into what you’re life entails.  Eventually, these opposing paths will reconcile.

Although the Chariot has many good things to say about moving forward, you must be aware of the “shadow” side of this card.  Don’t think that the only way of receiving good credit from those you love is through achievement of work.  Family will always support you no matter what.  Don’t let this thought succumb to low-drive, just go for it.  You’re here now for a reason, don’t think, just go.

When I learned, wondered, and fell in Love

It was when I was five years old that I first learned about “Love”.  At that time, Love was merely the love that families shared for one another.  The love you have for your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, or even your pet dog, cat, bird, fish or anything that presents a beating heart.  I’ve always believed that you should treasure those you have given life to you whether if it’s through birth or through an amazing life journey that you take with another human being.  At five years old, I was naive and innocent with the many different terms of love like any young girl would be.  I knew that I loved my parents, my brothers, and my dogs.  But little did I know that others will creep in with love, most of the time disguised as lust, to tamper with your assumption of what you think and believe love represents.  This can come in the form of either a lover or a friendship. Sometimes the two even collides when you get too close to a “friend”. But at five years old, I don’t know about this.  I’m just a pure innocent little girl waiting to explore life’s riches, and what the word “Love” really meant.

As I aged into my teen years, that’s when I started to wonder about Love.  At this point, I’ve been hurt in a way where my heart became too afraid to trust another human being.  I’ve been betrayed by friends which only realized till after they have screwed me over that I was actually not a bad friend and decided that they wanted to keep me around.  Well…Sorry, I won’t put my heart through such deranged mistreatment by another person that is unconscious to what they are doing while living in the moment.  Now, the other type of Love is through a lover and I know most of you are thinking the same thing I’m thinking.  How can you believe the words that come out of the this individual and really, and I mean really believe what they’re saying.  I’ll tell you this from what I have learned so far:  If you have any, ANY doubts at all about what this person is telling you and whether or not if they mean it, they don’t.  You yourself should know instantly and with your heart and mind, there should be no doubt as to whether or not you believe what this person is telling you.  I’ve had my share of heartbreak and never believed what someone has told me and believed that they were genuine.  It was just too much of another life cycle that involved too much tears and sitting in dark rooms alone till someone brought me out of my funk.  I realized that I cannot get upset over someone that has hurt me because that was not the one that I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.  They were just another life experience that we learn from and must move on from.  It’s really as simple as that.  If you end up breaking up with the last person you dated, that is not the one you are meant to be with.  The one you are meant to be with will never EVER let you go and realize what they have at that very moment rather than after they lose you.  And that brings me to my final point of when you know you are actually in Love.

There are many different levels of falling in love and none of the stories are ever the same.  Some couples start off as friends, others start by dating for a few months, and others just fall in love at first sight.  My friend once told me that men actually believe in love at first sight more than women do because women ponder too much about a failed relationship and instantly believe that any man they date next will just turn into a complete waste of time.  So we put up boundaries and make sure that our heart doesn’t get shattered into a million pieces.  When I fell in love, it was like a ton of bricks hit me right in my heart.  I’ve only known the man for 10 days and already I knew that I was in love.  This may be crazy to some but I wouldn’t be writing about this man if he wasn’t worth my words.  He wouldn’t put up with waking up at 2 in the morning to talk to me while I’m getting ready for class. We are in a long distance relationship, him in Hawaii and me in New York.  It’s really not as bad as it seems since now we have networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.  We also have texting, calling and Skype so that we can actually still “see” each other.  We fell in love in the most story-book way possible, almost like it was love at first sight.  I’ve never really believed in that but now I may have to re-think the term of Love.  I found the man that I want to be with and I know this even though I’ve been dating him for about a month and a half.  We are like two crazy kids in love and doesn’t care what the world thinks.
When you fall in love…You’ll know.  There will be no doubt in your mind about what Love is when you’ve finally found it.  You may fall in love more than once but know that that was just a stepping stone to the real adventure that you will take with another individual for the rest of your life.  And that adventure will define your own meaning for the word “Love” and you will live happily ever after.

A very long goodbye

I go to school in Poughkeepsie, New York.  Poughkeepsie…What an odd name of a city.  Someone actually took the time out of their day to think up a name for this small portion of New York and they come up with that?

Anyways, it has only been about a month and two weeks since I have been seeing my boyfriend Daniel and already we are separated for three and a half months.  The night that I had to leave him without me was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do.  Never have I’ve met someone so perfect and so willing to go through a long distance relationship and when I asked him why he is okay with doing this, he said “Because I know you’ll be back.”  Not many people look at it the way Daniel does.  Many people would rather look at the small picture than the bigger picture.

Small picture–I’m in New York and he’s in Hawaii.  I’m not physically with him.

Bigger picture–I’ll be back in just three and a half months and nothing will penetrate the strong love that we have for each other.

I know what you’re thinking.  “You fell in love with someone after just a month??!!”

Yes.  I did.  And I have never been more sure in my life.  I hardly even think about my past relationships and how badly I’ve been treated because Daniel has been nothing but amazing to me.  People will say that we are just two fools in love but if being called a fool is what it takes for people to really believe that I love this man, then so be it.  I’m a fool.  I have never been more sure about anyone is such a short amount of time.  But love really does not have a time limit and the fact that I have no doubts in my mind about our long distance situation just goes to show how much I trust and love him with all my heart.  And he tells me the words that every girl wants to hear but there is only one difference that separates his sentences from the past…I believe him word for word.

The night that I left him, I wasn’t crying.  This surprised me beyond belief because a couple days before the separation, I was crying like I was 2 years old again.  But this showed me how confident I am about going away.  Of course the no-tear phase didn’t last long.  As soon as I started driving out of his drive-way, the flood arose.  I jumped out of my car, hugged him as tight as I could, and started tearing all over his shoulder.

After I left, while I was driving on the freeway, I was wondering why the world didn’t stop for us.  I just left my boyfriend to go to New York, a place where I don’t even like, and the world just keeps moving along?  The radio keeps playing it’s repeated songs over and over while I stare into the dark freeway hoping everyone would stop what they are doing to realize what has just happened.  But of course, that’s just nonsense.  The world goes on and so must we.  We will get through the thousands of miles of distance separating us physically, but spiritually and mentally I am always with him.

Me and Daniel at Cheesecake Factory