Books were my first love. The first time I walked into a library, I felt like I had entered a vast universe full of magical mysteries just waiting for me to unravel. I would pick up a book, read the blurb and then open it to the first page. And just like that – I could be transported to anyplace in the world. I could even time travel – visiting eras long gone as I discovered how our ancestors lived. I would reimagine the author’s world with my own eyes – in utter awe of the enormity of the universe and our human experience.
One day, I opened an encyclopedia and saw a depiction of the solar system. I was overcome by an odd, indescribable sense of deja vu. I was still in kindergarten at the time, but I remember feeling like I somehow knew those great nine wanderers intimately. I felt like I was meeting old friends.
Whenever I visited the Hindu Temple, I gazed curiously at the personifications of the neva graha – nine planets – as they are they known in Vedic astrology. I often circled around them as though I were a mini-planet earth. To me, the allegorical myths and legends that the planets have inspired over the millennia are as fascinating as the scientific discoveries of the past two centuries.
May the night sky never cease to inspire us.
As a kid, I wanted nothing more than the chance to meet my beloved planets if I could. And even after all these years, I still wonder what the ancients must have seen when they looked up at the night sky. It is this night sky that humans all over the world have gazed at regardless of where they’re born and which culture(s?) they grew up in.
I grew up in an international trading family. My parents and grandparents were all born and raised in different countries and speak different languages. Between them, we have: India, Japan, Uganda, the UK and of course, Singapore. I was born and raised in Singapore: the little red dot. My passport is that beautiful shade of burnt orange and my comfort food of choice is Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Oh yes. Home is where the chicken rice is.
But you know that old cliché – the one about how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It really doesn’t. True to form, I left Singapore in 2007 and lived in Australia and Israel before returning to Japan to retrace some of my grandmother’s old footsteps.
And it was here in Japan that I discovered tarot. The Fool’s Journey – the first 22 cards of the tarot deck – is such an incredible and wondrous metaphor of the universal journey through life. We live a little. We laugh a little. We love a little. We hurt a little. We grow a little. We are all more alike than we can to admit.
The first time I handled a deck of tarot cards, it was deja vu all over again. I felt the same way I did when I first saw a depiction of the solar system. I felt like I was meeting old friends. The 78 cards of the deck are a beautiful pictorial depiction of the wide variety of situations, energies and characters that make up the human experience. Mine. Yours. Everybody’s.
Despite our differences, I’ve always believed that we humans are more or less the same, regardless of ethnicity, language and religion. We eat, we sleep, we procreate, we work, we earn a living and then whether we like it or not, we have to embrace the great unknown at the end of it all.
It is our human experience.
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