Yesterday, I was sluggishly working my way through a few questions and a chapter in my review book. In all honesty, the effort simply wasn't there. That evening though, a brief text message exchange with one of my best friends provoked a moderate rush of anxiety. What if we're not ready? What if we fail? Schools will definitely see our score on this second licensing exam--and even if they don't see it right away, they'll want to see it. Also, for the sake of being obvious, you have to pass to become a licensed physician. No small feat to which to steel your will.
I'll admit it: I freaked out a little. I abashedly texted another friend who's already taken the exam, asking for advice and reassurance. While I wasn't totally reassured by her response (such is the nature of worry, it is not easily quelled by mere logic), I wasn't quite ready to panic and postpone my test.
When I find myself completely at a loss, I long for the ability to take refuge in faith as others do. It would be so nice--such a relief--to just trust that there is some external force advocating for me! In the end, though, much as I might occasionally long for such a safety net, I cannot bring myself to believe it exists.
What I do trust in, however, is the power of meditation and the subconscious. I have found that, when I am truly feeling lost and questioning my decisions, one of the best ways for me to sort through what I'm feeling is to turn to an unlikely source: Tarot cards. As a teenager, I fancied myself a pagan, and while I never really fully committed to that faith (and no longer really have any faith, as I already stated), there is a central part of me that cherishes the values I established for myself during that time. Namely, a few core humanist values: the value of all people, a respect for the earth and the environment, a desire to live in accordance with nature rather than against it, a reverence for the miracles of biology that surround us. One practice that I picked up, though, was reading Tarot cards. I remember carefully calculating how to purchase my deck; I always received B&N gift cards for Christmas, and I ordered my deck off of the internet. My Rider-Waite deck has been faithful ever since, coupled with a cheap clearance book on fortune telling (also from B&N). After several years of intermittent use, I finally have a working knowledge of each card's meaning, so that my readings now have actual use.
As a teenager, I asked foolish questions: does he like me? will I win at the debate tournament this weekend? and I can't even remember what else. Now, my questions will probably look just as foolish in retrospect, but they feel more urgent. Will I be successful? What will my career arc look like? Where will I be in 10 years? Despite the self-serving nature of the questions, I still almost cried with relief when I laid out the spread for my ten-year career outlook: success, victory, reward for hard work were in every position. I don't really feel like reading the Tarot is telling the future; sometimes it seems as though whatever the cards are, you can interpret them to mean what you want them to mean. So instead, I treat it as a psychological test, an inkblot of sorts, to see where my mind leaps to interpret the meanings of the cards.
Whether it works or not, I always feel calmer afterward; in itself, it is a form of meditation. I feel more centered, now. I have to take the test on Saturday and that's all there is to it. Let the cards fall where they may.