I think of the spring quarantine months of 2020 as The Great Unwinding. Life slowed down significantly and for long enough for some of us to pay attention in ways we haven’t been accustomed. In this excerpt, Adam shows us what we can learn about busyness through the Knight of Swords.
Knight of Swords
The Knight of Swords is an ambitious man. He is always striving to prove he is a successful adult. No matter how much he achieves, he can’t seem to be happy or rest. The only thing he knows how to do is push ahead. Once he has completed his objective, he doesn’t even know how to absorb it. With his red plume and cloak he is already rushing ahead to the next task, driving himself mercilessly to win, hoping that someone will acknowledge his value through deeds.
Are you rushing through life? Do you stop to savor successes you’ve already achieved, or do you race ahead toward the next task? Do you feel guilty about resting when there’s so much to do? Do you cram your day with so much activity that you feel drained and depressed?
The Knight of Swords reminds us that this is no way to go through life. In fact, it is downright harmful to your health. In this card’s imagery, the horse represents our physical body. The horse is uneasy, anxious, tight, and trying to outrun his rider. The horse looks back at his master with an expression that says “Seriously, you want me to run faster?!” The Knight brandishing the sword represents the “cruel taskmaster” within. That nasty voice that tells us to shut up and keep going, even when we feel we are going to drop.
Western culture glorifies suffering through work. When someone in America says you are “a hard worker,” that’s almost as good as being one of the troops! “She worked until the day she died,” is another one of our highest honors. But is your tombstone really going to be inscribed with all the hours you heroically put into your job? Is that really an authentic encapsulation of what you amount to? Why don’t Americans allow themselves a siesta like other countries? Is it a sin to have more “vacation time” than one paltry week a year?
Today, you must take responsibility for your own health and wellness by scheduling relaxation. No one is going to say, “Boy he needs a break, let’s make him take one!” Working toward an achievement is marvelous, but as with everything it needs balance. The Oracle at Delphi had a saying that guaranteed a satisfying life. “Nothing too much.” That includes work, activity, play, food, drinking… everything!
Slow down today. Turn off the phone and take a relaxing walk or sit in the yard for twenty minutes. Stop being a slave to clocks, demands, emails, texts, televisions, and social media updates. You aren’t living a full life if you are constantly cracking the whip across your own back to achieve. Balance work with rest today and your body will thank you.
The Knight of Swords can also represent another person who is rushing through life. He is often so fixated on his own goals and destinations that he does not care who he is running over to succeed. He is not a “bad” person, but he can be very self-absorbed. Knights can represent “youngish” adults of any gender. Knights are usually people who are phasing out of one way of life, and into another.