What's better, waiting for the wish to come true, or enjohing its fulfilment? The tension and the pull when it's so close, so close, you feel pulled like the ocean pulled by the moon, or the huge sigh and release when you have it. The quick answer, maybe having it, because it's what you truly wanted, after all. But on second thought . . . . now you can't look forward to it any more.
When I was little the fever expectation for Christmas morning was almost unbearable. Something so good, so wonderful, so deeply magical, was going to happen. Finally, on Christmas Eve, there was this absolute breathless hush, we left Santa Claus his snack, and tried to sleep. We finally did, for a while, and then woke up hours before our parents. The deal was that we were allowed to wake them by seven o'clock. I would creep out, carefully not looking at anything, and grab a board ganme, take it back, and play with my little brother until seven o'clock. That was an amazing time. It had come, but we didn't have it yet. There was this deep satisfaction of knowing that it was all waiting for us now, and we savoured those tlast hours.
We're talking about the ten of cups today. The nine is the wait, the sensing in every cell of the closeness of the heart's desire. The ten of cups is having it, knowing that the happy ending has at last arrived.
By the end of Christmas Day it was over. Glutted with candy, turkey, plum pudding, and more candy, satisfied from toboganning, as we always did at Christmas, with some cousins, I found a big empty space. I dealt with it by diving into some book or other that I'd been given for Shristmas. I remember 'Ivanhoe' and 'The Count of Monte Christo' very well, settled deep in an armchair, again eating candy.
I came out of a culture (family, maybe more) that was really good at expectation, at wishing, at convincing itself that there really was an over the rainbow place, and that we could, would, some day, maybe, get there. Maybe it was Christianity played out on a domestic level. I certainly didn't grow up in a Christian milieu, but in those days Santa Claus, and even the Easter Bunny, could certainly carry the spiritual charge, the waiting for something that was impossibly good, that would come one day, as Heaven would one day come and the earth be transformed.
That urgent desire for perfection, that struggle to get everuything exactly right so that the magic would have a place to land, acting out every tiny ritual or the whole thing would turn out not to be so, was a burden my own family carred in my later years, as the pressure for Christmas to be perfect lived in me.
Maybe, given some of the speed bumps of my own childhood, this is more about family history than the ten of cups - I'm not sure. But finally, when my eldest son is as old as I was when I was raising him, I may have begun to learn.
It's a fine walk. One has to celebrate fully the present. The ten of cups, the Halleluia, is always here now. And the longing as well. Gratification endlessly deferred starts to look like neurosis, and the end of hope, the conviction that the only good thing, the absolute culmination has come, is passing, has passed, is maybe death.
Like the old pop song from the fifties went (though it was about something different - but only in a way - it was about love and marriage) used to say: "Try, try, try to separate them; it's an illusion", and "You can't have one, you can't have none, you can't have one withou the other."