state of attention, practice, intuition, environmental
Care in the Tarot of Hope comes just after Affect: the moment we become touched again by what surrounds us. Care is the card that emphasizes the need to become aware of our environments and the role they play in who and what we are. At this point of the journey of hope, this is primarily a physical undertaking: care is about opening up your senses, and all your sensitivity, to the world around you.
On the card we see the world and the ‘workers’ taking care of it, molding it through acting out their mutual connection. Care is often put in relation to Mother Nature, but this might be misleading, since there is no such thing as a pre-cultural ‘raw nature’ as opposed to a ‘cultured’, artificial ‘other world’. In Care nature is not a raw state of things, but she is transformation, life itself. She is the transformative power of creative connections that materialize in the world. She is the energy that connects people with people, with animals, with things. That connects minerals with plastics, and history with the future. And she is the one that molds and transforms our utmost being, and the relation we have to ourselves.
Every relation is one of transformation: if things are dealt with as resources only, they lose their ability to become anything else, they get fixed in our perception of reality. But in doing so we ignore everything they can be ‘as well’: every ‘thing’ carries in itself a myriad of connecting, crossing, and sometimes even contradictory relations. The way we perceive them, or how we ‘consume’ them, always reinforces certain pathways, ignoring others. Rendering some perspectives visible and other ones obscure. In that sense nature is what we make of it: how we carve out habits through time will slowly start to transform and rule our potential dealings with the world, until they have become as self-evident as ‘nature’ itself. Every action we put into motion has an infinite depth of resonance. An echo that can not be foreseen. That is the ecology of life.
Care is the card that invites you to experience your relations to the world more intensely, and take care of the affects that indicate you being touched by what surrounds you. By taking the time to be quiet and listen, or look at your tea cup with deliberate attention, or simply sit on a terrace and let the city enter you. By paying attention to the chain of relations that bring ‘things’ into our homes and lives: the ones you eat or wear, the ones you like to look at, the ones that lie spinning in your lap, the ones that speak in slogans, the ones you believe to be important, and the ones you consider insignificant.
On a personal level this means that we have to take care of the self, through opening up the body to what surrounds us. By making time to experience the pleasure of being alive. This is a move towards the reclaiming of time: to pay attention, to be with yourself, to listen to what your body has to tell you. But also to become aware of our relations, not analyzing them to death but giving them space to breathe, to open up, to transform in lightness.
Care is a kind of attitude, an ‘environmentalism’: it is the awareness of the relations that shape us and the ones we construct to shape our environments. It is the state of attention that is needed for the world to enter, to break up the subject/object dichotomy that rules our experience of life. By taking care you make a space within yourself for life to appear. Not life as you know it, but the life that is common to all of us. In this moment of becoming aware, through your senses, through simply paying attention, your life becomes your art work. It becomes a simultaneous movement of accepting and transforming. The hands in the card are not forming an assembly line, they do not produce sameness. These hands are opened to carry on the affect, the movement that connects us all. It is a transformational process that touches both yourself and the world around you.
Taking care of the self in this extended sense is therefore always subversive to the ruling ideology, religion or political system you live in. It places you directly in the experience of life, and makes you the ‘worker’, the transformer of your own ethics and beliefs. In relation to Capital, Care proposes a different attitude towards time, towards attention, towards our environment and the way we value our relations. Taking care has nothing to do with wellness practices or fancy holidays. Care is in the smallest of intentions, in insisting on the quality of your relation to yourself and the outside. Care is about giving up on yourself as you know it.
So in a positive sense, Care is the card of potential transformation that starts from the body as an indicator of possible reconnections. It is a card of pleasure, of unapologetic beauty, of elegance. But the card doesn’t stand only for happy experiences: death, decay and loss are also necessarily part of transformation. And only the moment we give up on the duality of life (black/white, night/day, pain/pleasure), and recognize life and death as complementary, are we are able to move on. Only then we stop being petrified by the fear of losing our dearest relations and possessions.
Care is created through insistence, through attention to our practices. This is a practice of life that can be installed through asceticism or meditation, as well as through the mindful pleasures of eating, or the creation of a dandyesque or queered up life. In a negative sense, this card can also stand for the embrace of conservative notions about Nature, reducing her to a categorical cycle of life and death that doesn’t leave space for creativity and enjoyment. It is important to be attentive to this categorical potential of the card, and be wary of its possible consequences: when Care loses its power to transform the situation, it is time to revive and reinvent your practice. Open up the doors and windows of your habits to free the Alien that is lurking inside.