Four of Swords: Thank you for being tired

Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat if necessary. Now, I want you to think of the most resilient and together person you know. That person who takes challenges in their stride and somehow always seems to come out of it alive. Now – subject this person to incessant stress, tension, anxiety and worry. While we’re at it – don’t give them a day off. Criticise them constantly. Hey, why not take them for granted, too. Now watch – as they slowly crumble and break. Those conditions will crack even the strongest and most resilient of people.

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In my blogpost on The Compulsory Day of Rest, I juxtaposed the Jewish Sabbath with Japanese workaholism. I talked about how important it is to take a day off. That constantly working hard without taking that time to rejuvenate ultimately decreases our efficiency. 

I am no stranger to Japanese workaholism. I’ve lived here long enough. If you ever can’t make it for an appointment, a simple – ‘I have to work’ justifies it all. No further explanation necessary. Prioritising work above everything else is the norm out here. 

At the end of the workday – people ordinarily say otsukaresama des お疲れ様です. In English, it unnaturally translates to ‘Thank you for being tired’. (Hmm… about that…Sometimes you even hear gokurosama ご苦労さま. It has the same meaning as otsukaresama BUT seniors use it towards juniors. As you can imagine, people generally don’t like it. I sure don’t. 

Which brings me to my tarot card for the day: the Four of Swords

Here we see a man resting above a tomb – except he’s not dead – you can tell by the way he’s resting his hands. But in a way he is dead – because he is tired, exhausted and in desperate need of rest from worldly matters. He is so wiped that he has nothing to offer anybody anymore. In the stained glass, there is an image of a woman with a child – his family, perhaps. They are giving him the space and support he needs to recuperate from the challenges he’s been through. 

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This card does not represent peace, winning war, running away or even resolution. This card is more about taking that time to rest – so that you’re refreshed, reenergised and ready to take on the challenges that will inevitably arise once again in the future. 

And for me – that means taking a well-deserved holiday to someplace that I’ve wanted to visit since coming to Japan two and a half years ago. I’d wanted to go there this time last year, but ended up taking an extremely regrettable detour. Ah well… you live, you learn. 

In line with this whole resting business, I’ll be taking a break from doing tarot for the next couple of days. I will be updating my travelogue section so please indulge me as I regale you with some of the details of my spring holidays. My partner in crime has already planned the whole trip – all I need to do is pack my suitcase and show up. 

Have a good holiday – I know I will. 

Author: Dipa

Tarot Tales from Japan

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