Rubber vs Crystal Moments (Tarot of Michelle)

Striving to recognize one-time versus recurring opportunities helps me be present and make better decisions.

The story of Rubber vs Crystal Moments begins for me in 2014, when the former CEO of my former company, Brad Smith of Intuit, shared with us his personal take on the prioritization and work-life balance concept of “rubber” and “crystal” moments. I’m not sure if “rubber vs crystal” originated with Brad Smith, and I don’t really care; his engaging way of presenting it was part of what made it meaningful and memorable, and therefore useful. As you may already know, and as Brad explains, crystal moments are once-in-a-lifetime type events; rubber moments bounce back to you and you have a chance at the experience again.

Illustration by the author

This concept helped me make better dietary decisions, as I wrote in “Rubber food” on Will I get another chance to eat this treat? Usually, yes, so I don’t need to eat it this time. This has saved me from ill-advised calorie consumption more than once.

Choosing between wedding cake and the omnipresent candy jar is easy. Deciding whether a moment is crystal or rubber can be hard. Sure, my kid’s soccer practice will come around again. But will today be the day she scores four goals in a row? In the moment, we don’t always know—we can’t always know—which opportunities are which. Sometimes that seems unfair, like it’s entirely up to chance whether we’re going to miss out on something important.

But if I’m present in the moment….paying attention to what’s really going on….listening to my intuition….attuned to the vibrations of the universe….it gets easier to recognize the “ting!” that marks a crystal moment trying to get my attention. This “ting” takes multiple forms. In the past, it has actually sounded like flicking a crystal glass with a fingernail. More often, it feels like a guitar string thrumming without making any sound. Occasionally, my inner voice pipes up, or I “hear” a sound like a camera shutter, taking a mental snapshot of the moment. Sometimes it’s an intuitive thrill that makes me mentally sit up and take notice.

Despite all these indicators, sometimes I’m not listening hard enough; sometimes, I have the sense a decision is momentous when it’s not. Sometimes I overthink things, or can’t decide.

Perhaps drawing this card can help me become better at recognizing the difference between crystal and rubber moments. This means staying present, which is always a good thing despite being a struggle at times. But the payoff is worth it: better decisions, and a richer experience of life. 

A story behind one of the cards in The Tarot of Michelle. Follow the developmental art as a Patron on Patreon.

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