One of my favourite albums is the Turn of a friendly card by the Alan Parsons project; “the game never ends when your whole world depends, on the turn of a friendly card’.
Life makes gamblers out of all of us. Sometimes we find ourselves riding high on the wheel of Fortune, and sometimes we’re clinging on for dear life, somewhere at the bottom. So how do we still embrace good fortune when we find ourselves at the top of the wheel. It takes courage and audacity.
Up, down, round and around
For those of us who have experienced a number of turns on the wheel, a fear creeps in that somehow the downward turn was something we provoked. It is a humbling experience and because we’re human, we try and figure out why it happened. How did we get knocked down? Were we too greedy for life, too happy, or just too bloody audacious? Or did we just take our good fortune for granted. Another explanation, for those of us who grew up with the religious imagery of a vengeful God, we think it may have been punishment for our hubris, perhaps we don’t deserve to be happy? Karmic thinking offers another explanation, but the one we never seem to be able to embrace is the thought that the Wheel just does what it does… it turns. Life is a merry dance that sometimes turns into a funeral march before it goes back to being a waltz.
And so as I gently unfold my writer’s wings to take another step on the path of my personal development, I too can’t help hearing the echoes of past adversity. I too feel slightly apprehensive and afraid about truly and fully embracing the horizons that are opening up before me. And while adversity has taught me to celebrate the good times, as these too will pass, I find that I need courage to fully enter into the joy of new beginnings. I no longer believe we make the wheel turn, either up, or down, through our own actions. Life happens to us, and the only power we have over it is to decide how we choose to deal with it. Buddhism teaches us not to get attached, be it to an outcome or a life experience.
So I can choose, to be afraid and fearful of embracing all these wonderful developments that are coming into my mid-age life, or to say ‘bring it on’; I’ll do the best I can with it. Not to cling to good Fortune, or try and make the wheel arrest at the top, but hoping that when this time of excitement and new beginnings passes into another phase, as all things must do, I will gracefully, though perhaps tearfully, meander down more difficult paths.
We fear to fail because we see failure as being knocked off the top spot. The old nursery rhyme about the Grand Old Duke of York tells us “and when they were up they were up, and when they were down they were down, and when they were only halfway up, they were neither up nor down.” Perhaps being stuck in the ‘neither up nor down’ is the most boringly difficult place of all.
So be inspired, dream and hope the next stage of your life into being. Don’t let the fear of your inevitable falling off the heights of self-fulfilment stop you from getting there in the first place. Life is there to be lived, not endured, and not survived. Perhaps, as you read this, you’re one of those clinging to the bottom of the wheel. Did you, like me, once struggle to understand why it happened. Or perhaps, like me, you feel the wheel turning upwards and wonder how you can manage to enjoy the ride without getting (too) scared.
Leave us a comment and let us know what being on the wheel of Fate means for you!