The Universe in Reverse

4 minute read

At Pantheacon last week I attended a talk by a Tarot guy. It was really interesting, and I learned a great deal (and reminded myself that I want to learn more). One of the concepts he brought up was “reversed” cards – when the card is laid out upside down. Various people have all sorts of descriptions of what this means, but his was really interesting – a reversed card means that your path is blocked, that there will be some struggle getting to the other side. “Huh,” I thought, “I wonder what that means.” You see, my path is rarely blocked, the universe usually steps aside gracefully to let me get where I need to go, and the very notion is puzzling to me.

This week I think that all my cards are upside down. It’s the only possible explanation. I started off the week with a driving desire to knock things off of my to-do list so I could feel like a superior person (superior, that is, to the person I am with a long undone to-do list). In that spirit, earlier this week I spent three days diligently trying to get an appointment for a mammogram to celebrate my new oldness (finally succeeded, went yesterday). My post from Wednesday described the contortions I needed to do in order to achieve a relatively simple technical task. Yesterday, after getting my mammogram, I thought “hurray! I can now get a couple more things done and become that superior person!”

But the universe, she likes to play with me. My way is free and clear *except* when I start pushing, trying to assign extra importance to things. My car registration is due, and I wanted to take care of it – but first, living in California as I do with a newly old car, I needed to get my smog check done. So yesterday, after my mammogram, I went to our mechanic, hoping to get two more things off my list. No, sorry, they were too busy to do a smog check then, but they assured me that if I came back this morning at 8:00 they could do both lickety split. Came back at 8:00 this morning, asked for smog check/oil change again, left the car there for 90 minutes, came back and… no, they hadn’t done the smog check. In fact, the front desk lady insisted that I had not actually asked for it. And then the front desk fellow helpfully suggested that I could come back tomorrow morning and get it done first thing. Oddly, I didn’t take this offer. I’m afraid to say that I stomped out, angered by the thwarting of my quest, and resolving not to darken their doorstep again (a side note – I have been a loyal customer of theirs for 10 years, despite increasingly mindboggling displays of incompetence).

So, the stomping. It amuses the universe. It causes her to turn my life into an Infocom game. You remember… “Oh, sure, I have the flibjar you need. But before I can give it to you, you need to get a blopspur from my sister.” So every simple task becomes an epic quest, and by the time you finish the game you feel like you’ve scaled a mountain.

Anyhow, I headed down to the Shell station at the other end of town (this is, um, 2 miles from the first place) and they said “Sure, no problem, smog check, 20 minutes.” Headed to Starbucks, and came back in 20 minutes to receive the first actual goodie in my quest – the smog check certificate. Woo! Heady with my success, I determined to drive down to the AAA office RIGHT THEN to pay my registration (I had lost my registration renewal form a few weeks ago, dooming me to an in-person interaction).

Down to the AAA office I drove. On the way, I thought “I know, I’ll call and renew victoria’s prescription for Singulair, because the acacia trees are killing her.” Of course, the pharmacy had no record of such a prescription, so I need to call the doc and get a new one. Ah well, just one more flibjor to retrieve in my quest to get things done. Arrived at the AAA office ready to end my quest. But, oh dear, my AAA membership expired. So I waited fairly impatiently for a new member dude to come and fetch me to take me off to new member creation. Note that it would have been virtually impossible for the waiting at the AAA office to even scratch the surface of the inevitable wait should I go directly to the DMV, so I took my medicine as graciously as I could. Eventually he came, I got my new membership, and… I paid my registration! There are now stickers on my car indicating my right to drive the car for another year.


The universe does this to me to remind me that I want to strive for zen mastery. The more grumpy I get about the way things are, the more things appear to increase my grumpiness. Eventually I remember. Like now. I remember. I’m sure it’ll last forever… or at least until the next time my to-do list looks overwhelming and I decide to hang my self-image on my ability to get it trimmed down efficiently, and the universe turns all the cards upside-down to remind me to retain perspective.