What one card would you pick for being alone?
For loving yourself, for being happy in your own company?
I’ve just got home from a one-act, one-actor, one-monologue play by Jaye Kearney; it’s called One. In it, the one character, a ‘singleton’, talks us through the thoughts, the insecurities, the inner demons and finally the defiant pride of a person who is on her own. The play challenged the common view that to be single is to be desperate, that all people without partners are constantly on the hunt for anyone who will hold them. At one point, Kearney covers herself with an endless stream of labels – labels applied by a society which pities and fears singlehood – such as ‘ugly’, ‘sad’, ‘weak’ and more.
Nine of Pentacles, from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law
I’d bought the tickets as a Valentine’s day present for my love. A joke, in that it was a gift to celebrate the joys of one’s own company on a day made for lovers, but a serious offering in that we’ve both been thinking a lot lately about solitude, and what it mean to be alone (in both of our cases, from within the ‘boundaries’ of committed couple-hood).
I shuffle through my cards, pause over the Ace of Cups, The Hermit, the Seven of Wands… then I find her. The Nine of Pentacles.
The woman of independent means. The self-sufficiency card. It’s not about not loving, not enjoying others – it’s about feeling confident in yourself – loving yourself – before seeking the love of others. Or, as Kearney put it in One, “I have to love myself first, right? Otherwise, what the fuck am I living for?”
The Nine of Pentacles reminds us that we are enough. That we are worth something all by ourselves, never mind how many lovers or partners we do or don’t have. Like One, this card debunks the Bridget Jones ‘waiting to be rescued’ approach to life and proactively affirms that ‘I am my own person. I belong to myself.’
At the end of the play, Kearney does something absolutely wonderful. She marries herself. We are all invited – two women are dragged up from the audience for a hen party, and then to be bridesmaids. A nice chap agrees to officiate. And Kearney makes the brilliantly personal/political vow to love, honour and cherish herself as long as she shall live. Everyone gets a bucks fizz. Everyone applauds. I have a tiny little cry. And afterwards, everyone is invited to stay for the inevitable cheesy disco.
From starting out awkward and lonely (Kearney even gets an audience member to come and hold her hand at the start of the play, she is so nervous about being up there by herself), One turns out to be a joyous celebration of self-love. I left feeling elated, happy, excited to be me, and ready to make those same declarations.