Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Always Keep Your Eye On The Prize

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

In my opinion, there is no better sentiment that so effectively sums up the idea of the Chariot (Major Arcana card 7).

This line is believed to have originated in a poem written by Alexander Pope. The piece, entitled An Essay on Criticism, attacks the literary critics of the day who were so quick to pass judgment on the work of others – while at the same time never quite creating any quality work of their own.

Although other notable figures of our past (such as Edmund Burke and Abraham Lincoln) have used this line to relay messages of caution, I prefer the initial interpretation as delivered in the original work by Pope.

Without getting into a full analysis of the poem, it is safe to say that Pope had little respect for individuals who criticized the efforts of others when they really had no basis for claiming expertise in a given area. His anger was directed at self-absorbed, arrogant pseudo-aficionados who claimed to have a real feel for the literary pulse of the era. One of Pope’s biggest gripes was with the damage these self-appointed demagogues were doing to the young writer’s reputation both within their own being and within society.

Understandably, Pope found the critics’ irresponsible rush to judgment both self-serving and counter-productive.

We all know people like this don’t we? These are the Negative-Nellies of the world. They look for any reason to criticize your progress and effort. Often times, they are cloaked as friends, co-workers or relatives, and offer a feigned-concern for your well-being. They watch as you undertake an activity they are too afraid to complete themselves. Sometimes, they secretly wish for your failure – not because of a personal dislike for you, but because they interpret your success as  a sign of their own inadequacy. They see that you have accomplished something great, and now they have no excuse to give about why they are sitting on the sidelines.

The fact is these people will always be around. Just like the ideas expressed through the Chariot card (from this week’s Fool’s Paradise), critics will always be there and will attempt to drive you in a direction that is really your polar opposite. Rather than perseverate on their negative energy, your focus should be on the goal. There will definitely be trials and tribulations. You can expect to fall and fail as you move toward your plans. However, you will not be defined by your failures. Instead, they will serve as stepping stones, turning points and inspirations.

I believe failures really are blessings in disguise. The purpose of failure is to stop us when we are moving in the wrong direction. Failure tells us what is not working, so we can switch directions and see what does work. Think about it. So many great people in history experienced repeated failure before they eventually succeeded. This struggle made their successes so much sweeter for them, and motivating for us. Don’t believe me? Look up these names: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, The Wright Brothers, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. Those are just a few.

My guess is these people had lots of naysayers around them, but they did not listen. They embraced the energy of the Chariot and rushed in with the enthusiasm and courage of the Fool. That is how we must live our life. We only go around this way once and we don’t want to have regrets. When we become like the Chariot, our higher-self triumphs. Even if we never reach our targeted goal, our spirit grows because we kept our eyes on the prize. That alone is one of the greatest victories we can achieve in this lifetime.