Expectations: To Have or Have Not?

November 7, 2011

Expecting something?  Expectations usually start as a thought.  Next comes an image followed by a full-blown fantasy.  Ah, yes, it feels exciting, even thrilling.  Your mind starts playing around with those fantasies and before you know it you find yourself in the spot where the real-life tape starts rolling.  Sometimes the fantasy works out just as you imagine in all its rich detail or better.  Other times you ask yourself, “What just happened?” 

I am afraid the “What just happened?” scenario is how a recent Saturday evening (10.29.11) played out for me.  I was invited to read Tarot cards at a private Halloween party at the White House.  A fellow Tarot card reader got the gig and asked me if I would join her.  Of course, I said, “Yes!”  The juicy carrot was that we would get our picture taken with the President and Mrs. Obama.  How off-the-charts cool is that?

The requirements were to dress up as gypsies and tell fortunes.  This was a party for military families and in the spirit of Halloween we were asked to dress the part.  Not a big sacrifice if it meant meeting the president and his wife, or so I thought.  After all it was a party, and fun, costumes and laughter were the leitmotif.

Playing By the Rules

Let me digress for a moment.  I have been reading Tarot cards for close to seven years.  I see the cards as a sacred tool to explore the subconscious through pictures.  Many liken it to a Rorschach test, where images trigger emotions and help people explore feelings about certain issues and concerns. 

When an individual picks a card, an uncanny synergy occurs.  Inevitably the card that appears confirms and/or uncovers the energy within and around that individual regarding his question.  Sometimes the individual is already aware of that energy, but other times it awakens him to a whole new perspective.  It can be startling.

This is how I view the Tarot.  When I agreed to dress up as a gypsy, I knew I wouldn’t be reading the cards in the way I am used to.  More importantly, I wouldn’t be reading the cards the way I believe they should be read—with the reverence they deserve.  I was entering a situation where my values conflicted with what was being asked of me.  Accepting this gig meant suspending judgment and playing by the party giver’s rules.

The Pivotal Moment—Meeting the President

As planned, my colleague and I had our picture taken with the Obamas before the party.  We were two out of a small group of 15-20 people having their photo taken.  What a privilege!  I had given thought about what I would say when I met them.  It would be something like “You’re doing a great job, Mr. President.” and “Thank you for inviting us, Mrs. Obama.”  When the time came, however, all I could do was give direct eye contact and say, “Mr. President” and “Mrs. Obama.” 

The presidential encounter took less than two minutes—much like going through the receiving line at a wedding.  One brief moment and it was over!  A few quips and then back to the party room where we had set up our stations to read fortunes for children ranging from ages five to 10 and their parents, if they felt game.  The piped-in music, costumes, decorations and food made it a festive, fun, well-orchestrated party.  The Obamas did not attend.

I did my best to play the fortune-telling gypsy.  It turned out to be hard work.  The piped-in music made it difficult to hear the soft voices of little children.  At their tender ages, most don’t understand what to ask or how to interpret the pictures on the cards.  More than likely, their parents had never had a reading either.  For them my colleague and I were the stereotypical tarot card readers—fortune-telling gypsies.    

The Aftermath—Expectations Exhumed

When I arrived home a few hours later, I was feeling slightly depressed and exhausted.  What just happened?  Why wasn’t I jubilant to have met the Obamas and read cards at the White House?  It’s taken me a few days to deconstruct my feelings, so I could make sense of the experience. 

It’s hard to say what I expected.  At times, before the event, I denied I had any expectations.  That’s because whenever I do, I am disappointed.  I had never been to a White House event and had never shaken the hand of a U.S. president.  I had hoped to say more to the president when I shook his hand, but stunned in the actual moment, that didn’t happen.  Disappointed in myself for not making more of what appeared to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I had to come to terms with what transpired.

Something else didn’t set quite right—my meeting the president and his wife in a costume.  My ticket into the receiving line was my role as a Tarot-card-reading gypsy.  Some might say, “Hey, who cares?  You got to meet the president!”  Yep, I did.  But, guess what?  He’s a person just like you and me.  He’s playing a role, too.  Still I would have preferred to have gone as myself.  The Pennsylvania farmers in front of us in the photo line went as themselves.  They had donated 60 pumpkins.

Get the Facts

Caught up in the brouhaha of meeting the president before the event, I missed asking a few key questions in advance.  Details about the audience and aspects of the environment would have been helpful in preparing for it.  Had I known I would be reading for children ages five to 10, I could have brought a deck with images that would have spoken more directly to them.  Aware that I would be reading in the party room, I could have been more accepting of the environment and adjusted more easily to it.  

This was all part of my learning curve.  How fortunate for me to learn at the White House!  In this instance, I couldn’t avoid having expectations.  Next time, I’ll have them, too, but wherever the venue is, I must ask the necessary questions beforehand and get the facts.  Keeping my expectations in check is my responsibility and an important aspect of taking care of myself and being professional. 

Now that the dust has settled, and I’ve sorted through my feelings, I can say, “I read Tarot cards at the White House.  I had my picture taken with the President and First Lady.  It was an experience!”

Bev Hitchins © 2011

2 Responses to “Expectations: To Have or Have Not?”

  1. Guest here Says:

    This is an insightful and brave post. I think most people would blow off all concerns and be grateful they were the stars of their own fantasy – being at the White House and meeting the President. But you used this unique experience to illustrate and learn valuable lessons, and explore deeper truths. From what we see of the people behind the “costume” I think that would have greatly interested the Obamas, more than just a quick quip with someone dressed as a gypsy which I’m sure they’ve forgotten.

  2. Sandy Leibowitz Says:

    This is so well written and sensitively expressed. Yes, we are all playing a role, and we are all doing the best we can…the Obamas as well as the gypsies. I thought a lot was learned; get more info on your audience so that you can adapt your material to them……BUT YOU HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME!
    to be treasured in the years to come.

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