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  • My friend Caleb is the only shaman I know who wears beat-up hoodies and lets me come over at 11pm and orders us pizza. We’re in the dining room of The Vortex, an apartment that always looks like it’s recovering from a massive art party – paintings and drawings and scrawled words cover the walls and ceiling.

    He takes the deck of tarot cards out of the box and we each take turns shuffling. He lays them out in a pattern on the table and flips through an instruction book with the meanings of each card. Because we are old-school pals, I feel okay being honest/whiny: “What you’re saying is all true but it isn’t very useful…”

    He laughs. We try again. Shuffle, reshuffle, new pattern of cards. Different cards pop up but the end meaning, when read altogether, card by card, says essentially the same thing: You don’t want to be put in a cage. You forget that you are your own home and sanctuary. Change is constant. Put your roots in the bare dirt and grow. Notice each moment.

    “But this says the same thing as the other one.”

    Nice work, tarot card manufacturers! A trick deck.

    “It’s you,” he says. “These are your issues. So in the end, this is how it will always go, no matter which path you choose.”

    I take another slice of spinach pizza, which he got delivered from the place next to the laundromat that always seemed too sketchy to be a real business. Right then it is the most magnificent pizza I have ever tasted. The point, suddenly, is not this exercise in cards. Not even a little bit. It’s that I’ve heard Caleb’s words before, from other people, and now here they are again: It’s you. Until you decide to see or do things differently, this is how it will be, no matter the details.

    It’s not the cards, it’s what you think when you see them.
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