Where I Want to Be

A friend is on vacation, spending a week with her family in the mountains. I felt a twinge of envy when she told me, and then it dawned on me: I am where I want to be. I don’t need to go anywhere to find respite from life’s hassles or even from the heat. I have arrived at my place of respite.

It’s a nice realization to have made. For almost a decade, I didn’t want to be where I was but I had nowhere to go, no way even to decide where to go so I rented rooms and wandered, both on foot and in the car. I thought that’s what I wanted — a nomadic life — and I suppose, at the time, it’s what I needed.

And now I need something else.

If I were young, I’d probably have continued to embrace that sort of uncertainty because there is security to be found when one is comfortable with uncertainty in an uncertain world. There is still uncertainty in this new world of mine of course. There is always uncertainty, and it’s hard not to worry about being able to sustain this lifestyle. (I act as if I am financially sound, which is far from the truth.) But a person does need a place to live, and when one is on the cusp of elderliness, one needs a safe place to live.

That is what I am trying to create here — a safe place for the elder me. And, when I keep my worries where they belong — out of my head — I know I am doing the right thing.

Today’s tarot pick was probably the most apropos of the cards I’ve picked this month. I didn’t ask what I needed to know as I usually do. I just picked and, interestingly, it answered the question that concerned me yesterday about the wisdom of continuing to fix existing problems in and around the house considering that any money I spend now is money I won’t be able to live on later.

But the card, the ten of pentacles, says that everything I put my efforts into now will pay off in the future. It also says that everything will work out well in the end because I have always kept the long term in view. Other sources say this card is about seeking permanence, feeling secure as things are, creating a lasting foundation.

Although I’m not sure how much I believe in the cards, I do find comfort in finding this external assurance of my internal feelings.

At least it will help me keep the worries at bay and allow me to find enjoyment in creating a home for myself today and the self I will be tomorrow.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

The Most Compelling Images

The most compelling images seem to be those that somehow mirror ourselves, or at least our image of ourselves. At it’s most basic, this mirroring is why humans buy magazines with other humans on the cover, and why the animals we most bond with have the cuteness of a human baby, with wide-set, round eyes, and generally a round face.

I didn’t realize that I was prey to such subconscious mimicry, but of course I should have known since, although I don’t always like to admit it, I am just a human. I was reminded of our subconscious fascination with ourselves when I was gazing at the tarot card I chose during a one-card self-reading, a painting by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. This three of wands card shows a woman standing at the edge of a land bridge, far above a mountainous scene with a river running through it.

I was suddenly struck by the familiarity of the image, and then I remember this photo of me on the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which I used for the cover of Grief: The Great Yearning:

There I am, standing at the edge of the world, though the altar-like rock in front of me masks that reality. If the photo had been taken from the same perspective as that of the tarot card image, you would see I what I am seeing — a mountainous scene with a river running through it.

No wonder the image of the woman standing above it all struck such a familiar chord.  She is I, or maybe I am she.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Standing on an Unbuilt Bridge to the Future

It’s not often a picture speaks to me. I’m not particularly visual, which is why I write and dance rather than paint. Still, I keep thinking of the Three of Wands tarot image painted by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. The picture is of a woman accompanied only by a cat, standing on the end of an uncompleted bridge arcing out over a river far below. The meaning of the card is about seeking what is uncharted, expanding one’s horizons, taking a long view, moving fearlessly into new areas, trusting that the bridge will form beneath our feet as we tread beyond what we know. (The symbolism of the cat wasn’t explained, but traditionally, cats tend to give us messages of change, flexibility, adaptability, beckoning us to realize that when we turn within to our own hearts, minds and souls, and trust in ourselves, we will always be shown the truth of matters.)

I’ve been researching various other interpretations of the Three of Wands card, and though there is some difference of opinion, generally the card means, besides just expanding one’s horizons, looking away from the past to an unknown future, dreaming beyond current limitations, trusting in oneself (when there is no one else to help, we can always look to ourselves and never be let down), and new opportunities for financial success. This card often is about traveling to actual places, but it also refers to other travels such as fresh starts, new insights, and even dance. (Bruce Chatwin wrote: “To dance is to go on pilgrimage.”)

This was the first tarot card I ever drew for myself (actually, I didn’t draw it, it fell out of the deck when I was shuffling the cards), and it will probably be the last because I wouldn’t want to dilute its power. The card hints at a visionary and creative future for me, and gives me a image of myself that I’d like to believe — strong and fearless, embracing the unknown, willing to go beyond the ordinary even if I have to go alone.

Perhaps that image of me isn’t true now, but as I continue to change, continue to be open to whatever happens, continue to believe that something awesome (in the sense of causing both fear and wonder) lies ahead, then the world will lie open at my feet.

Now that I think about it, isn’t this true of all of us? We’re standing on an unbuilt bridge to the future, the past behind us, the bridge growing beneath our feet when we walk. There’s nothing really to be gained by looking back, especially since looking back could cause us to lose our balance. So, like the woman in Stephanie Pui-Mun Law’s lovely painting, we go forward, trusting, hoping, believing . . .


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.