Love. Choices. Relationships.
Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast about happiness. The speaker (whose name I can't remember, the podcast is lost in the aether) argued that when we confuse pleasure with happiness, we lose happiness. He wasn't saying there was anything wrong with pleasure, per se, just that chasing it doesn't lead to happiness. Happiness comes from three things: spirituality, of putting in quality time with family and friends, and of work that serves other people. (BTW services doesn't mean you have to chuck it all and join the Peace Corps. It can be as simple as a smile or kindness). At a physiological level, these three activities stimulate our brains. On a metaphysical level, they bring meaning. Pleasures like drinking wine and lying on the couch vegging out to the TV do the opposite and quickly pale.
And yes, there is a point to my disjointed rambling, and that point is the Lovers card in Tarot.
The older version of this card depicts the mythological hero Heracles faced with two women, representing virtue and pleasure. Incidentally, Heracles was also renowned as QUITE a player, so the obvious choice for him is the latter. But this being a heroic tale, he chooses virtue instead. That podcast guest probably would argue he chose the path to long-term happiness over short-term pleasure.
The Rider-Waite-Smith deck reimagined this card from a more Judeo-Christian perspective, putting our lovers in the Garden of Eden. A.E. Waite gave this card his own twist, rejecting the vice/virtue choice and devoting it to elevating human love. And yet the artist, Pamela Colman Smith, still included virtue/vice imagery. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil stands behind Eve and the Tree of Life behind Adam.
In either case, we have a choice--fleeting pleasure or true happiness? This Tarot card asks us to consider where we are putting in our time? And will we be happier and more fulfilled if we make a shift?