Recently, there seems to be so much pressure to be happy… Or maybe this is not so recent. Maybe entire generations of people ran after this dream. But even so, it seems that these days, everyone has happiness as one of his/hers main objectives in life. And, even though we hear about lots of techniques, and talks and courses and books about this subject, it seems that we are as far away as we can be from being happy.
But why is it so hard to be happy? And what does it take for someone to be happy? For some, it takes money. For others, love or health. Maybe a successful career, or a family with kids. Or, perhaps, a nice big house. There are even those who would only feel happy if they could have it all. But is this happiness or ambition?
I was talking with a close friend of mine, who told me that he always wanted to take his life in a certain direction. A direction that would make him the happiest guy in the world, but he didn’t do it because of his family and of what others could say about him. And I asked him, “even so, did you manage to find happiness or didn’t you?”. His answer was a “let’s just say that we can never be happy at 100%. I was a good son, a good father, a good husband and I corresponded to what was expected of me from my family and society. So, yes… I was happy”
I confess to be somewhat shocked by this sentence. So does it mean that in order to be happy we have to do what is expected of us? What about our dreams, our expectations? Should I feel fulfilled or satisfied just because I’m living according to everyone’s expectations? But then why do we have so many people coming to us asking us what it takes to be happy? Don’t they know what is expected of them? Or do they simply want more from life than to fulfill someone’s expectations?
Even if we live in a society and act accordingly, we have a personality, dreams, expectations and so on. It is part of our way of living to try to fulfill these dreams and these expectations. To work towards realization. When someone comes to us, tarotists, they want answers or maybe a glimpse of light or to know through each path they should go in order to reach their goals. For any of these things, they are willing to open their lives to us for examination and trust illustrated pieces of cardboard randomly scattered in a table.
And what does the tarot tell us about happiness? There isn’t a single major arcana card there that explicitly means “happiness”. We have cards for change, love, meetings, work, adjustment, realization, failure, loneliness, action, and many many concepts, but happiness is not one of them. Sure, we can see The Sun as happy times, party, celebration; we can see The World as celebration, fulfillment, realization. If happiness is such a fundamental part of our lives, why is it not expressed in major arcanas?
If we go to the minors, we can can see it in the Ace of Cups, as an idea. Crowley entitled the 9 of Cups as the “The Lord of Happiness”, and everything in its description seems to point to a positive meaning. There’s just one catch. As with all nines, the card is placed in Yesod in the Tree of Life (also called Foundation), a sphere ruled by the Moon. Are we to take it as something fundamental to life, but only reachable through dreams? In the 10 of Cups, we have the fulfillment of this happiness in real world. Rachel Pollack, in her Tarot Wisdom book, even calls it “one of the happiest cards in the deck” and, indeed, there seems to be a sense of happiness throughout the illustrations on the main tarot decks.
In day-to-day situations, happiness is not something that we happen to find. Rather it’s something that happens. It happens when we successfully overcome an obstacle; or when something that we wanted very much becomes true. But even so, it depends on our state of mind and on the circumstances regarding said event: how we got there, how much satisfaction did we get from the results (imagine someone giving his/her all, breaking all kinds of records, only to watch someone else perform better than s/he has) and of how much importance do we give to said event. There’s purpose here, as well as conflict and function. There’s a hint of causality also, as something completely unexpected can make us very very happy, while something that we take for granted might not have the same effect. There’s something so subtle at work, we almost can’t grasp it.
But we know its there. And we know that, even if just for a moment, it is reachable if we truly work towards it (and not become obsessed with it). For it might be the stuff of dreams, but it also a fundamental aspect in our lives. Something that’s right there, if we dare to go to the moon and bring back that special something that can truly light up our lives.
By being present only in the minor arcana, we know that happiness itself should not be seen as an absolute concept or something that is so powerful that it can overtake our lives. Rather, it is something (a feeling, as expressed in the Cups suit) that arises from the combination of several factors. A product with its roots placed high on the moon, but reaching out to us, if we dare to reach up to it, and nurture us and brings us joy and realization and fulfillment. So please, do me the favor of fighting for whatever you want and whatever makes you feel fulfilled. Please make it real. Even if it’s just for one single moment.
And please, do me the favor of being happy.