Ever feel like you’re faking it? Going through life waiting for someone to say, “Hey! You don’t know what you’re doing!” I feel like this is part of the human condition, and I know that I feel that way often. This Real/Ideal meditation on the Seven of Swords and Two of Wands gets to the heart of that, and I love the directness of this reading.
In my daily life, I am a high school teacher in a low-income, rural region. Ask any teacher you may know and they’ll tell you: although we try to project an air of authority around our kids, the doubt creeps up on you.
I try to be a leader and a role model in addition to the provider of the curriculum. It’s an important part of the job. Especially considering the socio-economic conditions of where we live, many of these students come from broken and dysfunctional homes, many experience neglect and hunger, and many of their dreams of the future don’t extend past a marriage at 18 and a minimum-wage job at the grocery store or fast food restaurant.
That’s where teachers come in. We present, in our way, choices and guidance. You can go to college. Or you can get a trade certification. Or you can decide to live life on your own terms, and not be beholden to generational expectations rooted in traditions that don’t even have a basis in our modern lives. And more importantly, us teachers are the shoulder to cry on, or the person to just tell your story to. We’re the first line counselors. Sometimes the fill-in adult figures.
Teachers are the ones who make those tough decisions on whether a kid is venting about their parents or subtly letting us know about abuse. We’re legally mandatory reporters and employees of the government. But first and foremost we’re the people who see and work with the kids everyday. If a kid ends up in therapy or gets help from social services, chances are it’s something we’ve seen and spoken up about.
There’s the source of my doubt. It’s a lot of responsibility to carry. And guess what? We’re still learning how to do it every day. Every day and every student are the same in a lot of ways, but then every day and every student also brings a new individual challenge. We think on our feet and we second guess our choices. And I, at least, keep waiting for someone to come and tell me that I’m doing it wrong, even when I know I’m OK.
Seven of Swords and Two of Wands
Here, the Seven of Swords and Two of Wands are also accompanied by a Not card – The Empress. The Seven of Swords (the Real card in this draw) is my doubt and fear that I might be caught in an act. But I fake my authority really well. That’s the Two of Wands (the Ideal card in this draw). The idea that I make competent and direct decisions. The Not – The Empress tells me that this draw is about me, and my hopes and ideals and challenges, rather than about the work I do with the kids. Fair enough. I spend enough of my time (so much, really!) worrying and thinking and caring about them, the classroom, and the school. Occasionally I can stop and think about myself and what my job does to me.
What do these cards mean to me, then? The Seven of Swords is clearly about my questioning of “getting away with it” and doubt of making the right choices. But the Two of Wands, that’s about my desire of actually doing right. And making those right choices. The easy thing to do is to clock in, teach a lesson, and collect my (too low) paycheck and (pretty good) government-employee benefits. I can’t just do that, though, and I won’t just do that. In my depressing, troubling days, I need to remember the Two of Wands. Of its forking path and the decision to do right by the kids, even when I’m not sure of myself.
I like to think that someday the kids will stand on their desks proclaiming: “O captain! My captain!” (What’s a post without a reference to both Walt Whitman and Robin Williams!). That’s not real life though. I get through with the small moments of realization. When a student thanks me for listening, or when they’re frustrated with what I’m telling them but I know that they heard me and that they’ll grow. I’ll stick to that Ideal, and I’m proud to call myself a teacher. My Seven of Swords and Two of Wands are tough, but they’re really ultimately fulfilling.
The cards used in this post are from the Linestrider tarot deck.