Ten of Balloons

I was driving to pick up my boys, one weekend, in the affluent
neighborhood where they lived with their Mother and step Father. The river was
nearby, and I passed by large homes with spacious yards. There, I saw a driveway
to a home not visible, for the trees, and noticed a sign surrounded by blue and
purple balloons. Happy 50th Birthday, was scribed on it.I remember
ruminating that this somehow represented a successful man and that this was a
milestone, a banner year, in which to celebrate his honestly earned
accomplishments. All his creative efforts and loving marriage, had culminated in
this day of happy celebration; so I posited in that birthday sign surrounded by
ballons.Yet, who knows how this life really was. No doubt, happiness,
fleeting, visited, as it does with us all. But who can keep this happiness
inside walls of brick and wood? Who is capable of this herculean task, this
blood, sweat and tears, to hold fast to this ephemereal experience of secure joy
and triumph; marked, as it were, by a sign surrounded by balloons.

Even
the balloon, stretched and firm, soon releases it’s inspired life to the wind;
spent and flaccid! Is this not so with happiness, too? Rising and falling like
waves in a sea; sometimes, clear and calm, sometimes, a broiling tempest where
wave upon wave in endless cascades, roils too and fro, and only the gray and
somber clouds of the sky seamlessly blended with the sea, are seen.

Yet,
there are lives, sifting through time in their happy persuits, I imagine. Simply
living out each day in a magical bubble of certainty and faith. Hearts pure and
innocent, established in the community; plain lives with real smiles untormented
by fears and worries. Just lives, holding hands, crossing busy streets of vice
and temptation, to bountious gardens of virtues happy wholeness. Like playful
children with joyful abandon and natural grace, generous with smiles, and kind.

Happiness, then! Is it time well spent? I see in that yard a wizened old
man, slumped in his lawn chair, deep in a just slumber. His childrens children
play with abandon all around the great yard, where bountious gardens bear their
fall fruits. The remains of a festive feast, lay on the table, while birds song
twitter in the crispness of a sunny day. His dog lay by his side in simple easy
obedience. His wholesomely beautiful wife looks on the happy scene from the
kitchen window with a gracious smile of contented gratitude. A sleepy joy is
here… as seen in the Tarot card, the Ten of Pentacles, above, from the Rider
Waite Deck.

The other day, walking by another affluent neighborhood, I
saw a sign, marred and weathered by some days gone by. Surrounded by deflated
balloons, wrinkled and blowing in the wind, unceremoniously.  Written, obviously
with hurried strokes, was, ‘Everything must go, Moving and Divorce sale! Saturdy
and Sunday only’!

My Response:

All good things must come to an end.  However – you must wonder about this
gentleman’s life – it looked so rosy in that instant of time and space – from
the outside.  But upon further investigation, another slice of time and space
more of the story is told.  Perhaps that’s why he was sleeping.  My feeling
about this story is that he has been contemplating this Divorce for a long time,
not wanting to make a rash decision – look at all he has to lose!  But coming
into your 50th bday can awaken something inside of you.  Something that tells
you life is too short to be just good enough, too short to ‘tolerate’.  You must
always be happy inside for yourself – this may sound selfish, but how can you
make other’s happy if you yourself are not?
“I’m 50 now, and am halfway there.  I have 50 years of experience and
knowledge – and perhaps the last 20-30 years have been less exciting than the
first 20-30.  I must wonder to myself why that is.  Have I only been living this
dream that has been sold to me through TV, magazines and newspapers?  I have the
perfect house, great kids, and a beautiful wife.  Why am I not happy?  Why does
life not excite me anymore?  Everyone says it’s cause I’m getting old and
crochety, but should I just buy into that without at least trying to become
happy again?  Labels Labels Labels – take the fire out of eveything.  Crochety,
“mid-life-crisis”, all designed by society to put these thoughts away without
action.  For what would happen if everyone started trying to be happy after
building a life such as mine?  Perhaps our society would crumble – perhaps those
that are in power now would no longer be.  Perhaps there would be the birth of a
new society.  For what happens if everyone finally sheds their illusions and
trys to do something fun, instead of just contributing to the existing
consumerism model?  Maybe this is why relativly benign drugs like pot that are
easy to maintain on your own are illegal – it removes the need/will to
contribute in a person.  The person will start thinking outside their illusory
box and find that no – there’s more to life than that new car.  It is
unfortunate that I am only discovering this now, after 30 years of living with
this mature mind.  However – I still got another 50+ to go, so I’m not going to
waste it.  I’m going to live for myself for a while, until I find my own
happiness.”