I’m not saying that a longer-range plan, say ten years or even life, can’t be helpful. But life has a way of throwing us curves; as we grow, our view of a better future can change. (I figured out a while back that I could enjoy ballet as a fan, rather than as the prima ballerina I wanted to be at twelve, all unawares of what it meant to have no right brain skills at all, not to mention what it meant to have enough money for season tickets. When I was seventeen, a warm and secure retirement didn’t mean squat to me; oddly, now, it does.) Five years, however, is a short enough span; it’s likely that not too many unexpected curves will come our way and we won’t change too much, but is long enough to allow for meaningful change.
Wherever you are today, five years is generally long enough to get a new Bachelors or Masters degree and send out resumes for a new job. If you’re holding your newborn infant, five years will see that child in the best school you’re able to provide, fortified by the best upbringing you can manage. If you’re totally out of shape and in poor health, five years is enough time for you to make some really major changes. And so on.
Five years is sixty months. Five years is about two hundred and forty Mondays. It’s a short enough period that you can set a goal and break it down into specific actions: Spend one month researching school, another month filling out applications, another month doing the reading for every school’s 101 course, . . . . Or commit to sitting in meditation every Monday evening; place 240 beans in a Mason jar; move one bean to a clay pot each time that you do sit on a Monday.
And, five is, of course, in most esoteric lore, the number for a shifting of stable patterns. Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the lovely Gaian Tarot, (available from The Fools Dog) writes that:
In the fives, eagles fight for territory, a man breathes a ball of fire into the air, a woman gazes longingly through the fog, and a hiker settles down to wait out a storm.
The five in each suit represents a crisis or test of hardship from the outside world.
The five cards express the energies of challenge and conflict in each elemental suit. After the stability (and sometimes rigidity) of the fours, our world is shaken up by the fives.
The five is related to [the Major Arcana’s fifth card — the Teacher in Joanna’s deck and the Hierophant in “standard” Raider Waite-based decks]. Life lessons are sometimes quite painful, but often lead to spiritual growth.
Five Themes: Challenge, Conflict, Change, Crisis, Instability.
And those themes — challenge, conflict, change, crisis, and instability — are experiences to which we open ourselves when we decide to change our lives. But they’re also experiences that will come if we stubbornly try to cling to whatever bit of safety and security we’ve managed to eke out.
So what is it that you’re willing to risk some comfort to achieve? What will you commit to doing once a month for sixty months, once a week for about two hundred and forty weeks? How would your life be different after almost five hundred jogs? After sixty nights spent reading magical texts? After you’d hugged 1,825 trees? Can you journal the answer, dance it, paint it, sculpt it, bake it, knit it, dream it, talk to a friend about it, have sex over it, brew it in a cup of tea?
We’ll talk some more about this magic in coming weeks.
Full Disclosure: I consider the owners of The Fools Dog personal friends and have purchased art from Joanna Powell Colbert and follow her writings. Some years ago, she sent me her tarot deck to review.
Picture found here.