My three year old daughter sings a song that goes something like “We’re so busy buzzing bees”. I have this stuck in my head to the tune of the Sex Pistols “Pretty Vacant” (We’re so busy/Oh so busy/Busy buzzing bee-ees). If I sing it that way, it’s pointed out “that’s not right”. But to me the words are a natural fit to the Pistol’s frantic energy.
And aren’t we such busy buzzing bees? From space the world looks free and open. Down here on earth it’s a series of invisible tunnels, sometimes interconnecting, often not. You can see this effect especially in urban areas where there are multitudes milling around each other daily who recognize each other by sight but know each other not, not even to briefly nod to. And we are each hurtling through our own individual tunnel of our own design, careening past each other because we are so busy getting from one, activity, event and/or responsibility so that we can get to the next as though we were on some high speed orienteering track.
Of course that is oversimplification and generalization. Yet even though there we have more emphasis on holistic living and spiritual, emotional and physical harmony, there is still enough of this behaviour going on our modern western society that, if you can’t recognize this behaviour yourself, you can probably recognize it in people you know.
The Hanged Man is an enigmatic character to try to describe, but if I had to do it in one phrase, that phrase would probably be “Let it Go” (another song my daughter likes to sing – no surprise there).
The Hanged man invites us to slow down, stop, and get out of the straight-line-groove we’ve worn into our tunnels. Progress isn’t always made by continually ploughing ahead. Sometimes you have to stop and look around you. Are the things you are doing serving you? Does it feel like you’re making progress or running in place? If you’re winning, are you happy? Are you even going in the right direction?
Sometimes you have to press the pause button and take stock of your life. You may find that you’re fed up with the track you’re on or the one you’re listening too, but you’ve been so busy being busy you didn’t realize it. The Hanged Man asks “Why? What’s so important that you can’t let go, open up, be vulnerable, experience life instead of working it to death trying to maintain the status quo.
Depending on your circumstances, such a notion might show up to you as giving up or sacrificing what you have now for uncharted waters. You might even seem crazy to others, walking away from apparent success or accomplishment to do something completely different that seems out of character. The Hanged Man doesn’t really care what those others think. He wants you turn your world upside down, to get you to look at life from a new perspective and thereby get to know yourself and your life’s purpose better than you currently do.