Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Change, Death, and Opportunity

I know basically nothing about tarot cards.  In fact, the full extent of my knowledge of the subject consists of:
1. Tarot cards are a deck of cards that some people use to predict the future. (aka the definition of the term)
2. There is a death card, which actually represents change, not death. (thank you, Castle)
3.  Tarot cards are associated with the occult, which is opposed to Christianity and are not something I want to know any more about.

In spite of point 3, I'll use point 2 as an example because of the connection it creates between change and death.  Certainly death is the ultimate change we experience.  And conversely, a big enough change in our lives can mean we are no longer the person we were before, which is a kind of death.  And as with death, on the other side of change is something unknown, mysterious and, for many people, terrifying.

And yet, my generation does not shy away from change.  Thousands of us were swept off our feet in the idealistic fervor that got Obama elected.  Although I did not campaign or even vote for Obama, I do share some of the sentiments that he so effectively appealed to.  I, too, believe that it is possible to make a positive difference in the world and see change as a golden opportunity for improvement.

So, change is death.  And change is also opportunity

I am standing on the brink of the biggest change of my life so far.  I am 21 years old.  I have been a student for 17 of those years, which is almost as long as I can remember.  Now, I am graduating in less than three weeks and moving to Taiwan one month later.

As I think about this change, I find myself pulled in two different directions.  On the one hand, leaving the campus and the people that have shaped my life over the past few years will be difficult.  Brandeis has been a wonderful school for me.  I have grown amazingly as a person and gained experiences that I will remember all my life.  Leaving this behind and stepping out into an unknown future sometimes seems like death.

And yet, the opportunity that my job in Taiwan offers is tremendously exciting.  I will work for an organization whose mission I believe deeply in, make new friends, and experience life in a completely different culture.  I am confident that this time will continue the growth that I have experienced at Brandeis, and I am thrilled and delighted by the opportunity to go.

But for now, I am left here in my room, torn between dreams for the future and nostalgia for the past, trying to make sense of my conflicting emotions.  And yet, I would not want it any other way.  I have a wonderful experience behind me and another wonderful experience in front of me.  What more could I ask for?


  1. Dear Elizabeth:

    I knew your parents before you were born. We met in Madison in the middle of the 1980s, when I was in graduate school there, as was your Dad.

    You have written a thoughtful essay. I did want to warn you that Tarot cards are part of the occult world of divination, and are thus under the warnings of Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (and other passages). They are quite evil and dangerous and should be avoided. There is nothing wrong in making reference to them, but submitting yourself to their sway is a form of occultism.

    I write this with a long background of study and writing on the cults and the occult, although that is not my main area of engagement now.

    I wish you the best during this time of transition. Perhaps meditating on Psalm 90 would be edifying to you.

    Doug Groothuis
    Denver Seminary

  2. Thank you, Doug. I am definitely aware of the occult connections of tarot cards and the dangers they represent. The reference to them was simply something I picked up during a TV show that I thought illustrated my point well (as I said, that is literally the only thing I know about them, and I am content to stay that way). Thank you for your thoughts and your concern.

  3. Actually, I guess the occult thing does count as something I knew about tarot cards. I'll add it to the original post.

  4. Cool post. Its cool to hear how you are taking on the challenge so whole heartedly.

    I find your point 3 a little weird though. Just because it is occult doesn't mean you should be ignorant of it right? Afterall, its important to seek understanding of people, even if we disagree with them.

  5. Yeah, good point. I wouldn't mind running into more information on a purely intellectual level. I guess the point was that I'm not going looking for it because it's not something I really want to get involved in. I'm certainly not in favor of intellectual ignorance, so it's more experiential knowledge that I want to avoid.