Inauspicious Day

This was another long day at work, and it turned out to be a good thing, not just because of the extra money but because this was not an auspicious day to do much of anything.

For one thing, last night I dreamt that the neighbor’s tree, which creaks horrendously in the wind, fell and destroyed my garage (even though in actuality, if the humongous branch would fall, it would be his garage that would be destroyed, not mine). This morning, before I was fully awake, tree trimmers came and started working. They were trimming a different neighbor’s tree, but I did not like the coincidence of both the dream and the reality.

Even worse, my tarot card today was the ten of swords (called the ten of weapons on this particular deck) followed by the nine of wands (nine of staves.) The ten of swords is not a good card to get because there is nothing remotely cheerful about it, speaking as it does of misfortune on a grand scale. The second card was the nine of staves, a card of great strength and denotes being prepared for any contingency.

My preparation for the looming disaster was simply to go about my day as planned.

One good thing about a tarot reading (beyond the fact that the cards I turn up so often have nothing to do with me) is that the effects last only until the next reading. Which means tomorrow is a whole other story.

Speaking of story . . . when I was at my client’s house, I read an excerpt from a book where the character mentioned that the tale of how she met her husband was different for each person she told it to. I thought something like that — telling the truth, but picking different elements of the truth to focus on each time you told it — would work well in the small-town novel I am thinking of writing. Perhaps each person in town thinks they know the truth, but since they assume everyone knows the same truth, the salient points get buried until our hero (me!) starts asking questions and sees the variations of the truth. I guess it would be sort of like the folk tale from India about blind men “looking” at an elephant. Each person who touched a single part of the elephant found out a truth that reinforced their own belief, but it was only when they put all the concepts together that they came across the greater truth of what an elephant was.

In a way, I suppose, all mysteries are like that, with every character believing they know the whole truth but only knowing part of it, so perhaps it wouldn’t be such an interesting idea after all. And anyway, I am no closer to writing the book now than I was when I first started thinking about it, so I have plenty of time to figure it out.

Meanwhile, I missed all the commotion of the tree trimming even though the woodchipper was parked in front of my house because I left to go to work. Luckily, the tree was trimmed without any damage to my property except for a few small twigs in my rocks that did not get swept up. I’m back at home now, safe from whatever dangers lurked out there for me. And tomorrow is a new day . . .


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Imagined Future

I’ve been continuing my practice of picking one tarot card every day, not so much to learn what is in store for me in the future or to delve into the secret places of my soul, but simply to get familiar with the idea of the tarot. I mean, I have all those decks of cards that my deceased brother collected, so I should do something with them, right? Besides, it’s a way of honoring him and all he wanted but was never able to accomplish.

The most interesting thing I’ve found while doing this exercise is how often I get one of the dire cards one day, such as the nine or ten of swords, and one of the most fortunate cards the next day, such as The Sun.

So far, I haven’t learned much about the cards themselves or myself, just that I refuse to see bad in the bad cards, though I do enjoy seeing good in the good cards. If I get a card that seems to spell disaster, then I keep searching for meanings until I find an interpretation that portends something better. For example, the ten of swords can mean violent accident or death or misfortune on a grand scale, which I won’t accept. It also means that no matter how much we try, we cannot control everything, which I will accept. Not being able to control everything is a truth that can be applied to any situation and a lesson that behooves us all to learn.

Beyond that, I hadn’t realized why I objected to anything to do with foretelling the future until I read this quote:

People didn’t want to know their real future. They wanted to know their imagined future, the one they cherished instead of fearing. — “The True Secret of Magic,” a short story by Joe Edwards

I realized then that foretelling the future is like writing a story. Every story, taken to its logical conclusion leads to death because we all die. If we write the story all the way to that end, the story is a sad one. To make a happier story, we end at a pleasant time in the character’s life. Perhaps a wedding and a belief in happy ever after. Or the solution to a crime and justice for a victim.

Telling the future would be the same. Almost any fortune that doesn’t include specifics, such as telling someone they will be divorced within the year, will fit practically any situation. Almost any future will include happiness and sorrow, success and failure, sickness and health, betrayal and forgiveness. And every future, no matter how sunny and felicitous, ends in death. At least an earthly future does, and that’s what concerns us: how our life will be.

We want the pretty story, a belief that no matter how bad things are, things will work out to some sort of satisfying conclusion. (Isn’t that what we want from fiction, too? A satisfying end to a story, a belief that all the horror the character went through was worth it in the end?)

I know my end, perhaps not the specifics of my expiration date, but that there will in fact be an end to me. Meantime, I try to create my fortune — my future — every day. Even knowing that I can’t control everything, I try to control something — my attitude, my actions, my interactions with people — in such a way that I will have a felicitous fortune.

I don’t need to be told a bright future, and I certainly don’t need to be told a bleak one. Both will happen. Both will affect me. Both will be processed and I will move on to another day, another future.

I suppose if I were young, I would want to know if I’d be pretty, if I’d be rich, if I’d find love and happiness, but those wishful, youthful days are long gone. I once loved greatly, once was loved. I once felt immense joy and experienced vast sorrow. I once shared my life with someone. And now I don’t.

But just as I shy away from foretelling, I shy away from backtelling. In the first case, whatever will be, will be, though my actions today can affect what will be. In the second case, whatever was, was, and my actions today won’t change any of it.

But neither case really matters. What matters is . . .

What matters is . . .

Hmm. I’m not really sure what matters. That I am determined to cherish whatever my future might be rather than fearing it? That right now I am living a future I could never have imagined even a couple of years ago? That I am trying to imagine a comfortable future for myself? (Though if a great present came from nothing I ever imagined in the past, would anything I imagine in the present affect the future?)

Maybe what matters is that I am living as fully as I can, which, apparently includes picking and learning about one tarot card every day.


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

Odds and Ends

Yesterday I got the courage to get down on the floor to do some stretching exercises. Ever since I damaged my left knee, I haven’t ventured to floor in case I couldn’t get back up. Although I am right-handed, I am left-legged, and I didn’t want to stress the knee. It was a bit iffy, but I managed to get back on my feet. Oddly, it was harder getting down than up. I’m not going to try it again for a while. I’ll continue to do other knee exercises, as well as walking. I walked a mile today — walked, not trudged! The muscles around the knee are a bit sore, but I hope that they will soon get back in shape.

Do you care? Probably not. I don’t blame you. Other people’s ills get to be a bore.

I’m sure my talk of the tarot is every bit as boring. The only interesting thing (to me, anyway) is that except for an occasional card warning me not to take things for granted, to accept what comes, to live each day to the fullest, and to make good choices when it comes to opportunity, most of the cards speak of harmony, of peace, of good fortune, of being in the right place. It’s possible I’d read these things into any card because that’s my current situation. Also, if I don’t like the first interpretation I find, I search around for another interpretation. (For example, the ten of swords is a card of death and misfortune, but since I refused to accept such a meaning, I delved deeper and found that the card could also mean a renewal or even simply accepting your present circumstances.)

I mentioned yesterday I’ve been reading a series of spy/adventure novels. I remember back in the days of Glasnost thinking that a whole genre of cold war spy novels, Russia vs the USA, had suddenly become defunct, and that sure seemed to be true. In the following years, spy novels centered more on the Mideast, which killed any interest I had in the genre. But now, all these years later, those old Russia vs. USA novels are current again. And the mention in one of these book about the Chinese and their bioweapons program sure struck a chord.

Come to think of it, at the beginning of The Bob, people talked about the Chinese being held accountable, and then suddenly, that whole topic of news disappeared. I wonder what that’s about? I could create all sorts of scenarios based on these old spy books, but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter where it came from. It’s here, it’s killing people as well as destroying a way of life and the world economy, and no reparations can ever make up for all the problems it caused. (Hmm. I didn’t realize I’d adopted such a laissez faire attitude. Maybe it’s because I’m abstaining from the nastiness of Facebook.)

For some reason, the sun yesterday was exceptionally hot. It seared my skin and desiccated the plants that had been watered the day before. All summer, watering every other day was fine, and yesterday? Not the hottest day of the year, but it sure seemed like it!

Today is supposed to be a bit cooler, though I’m glad I got my walking in early. And my blogging. Now I can sit back and read for the rest of the day.


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