This blog has been spotty at best, in terms of meeting any publishing deadlines. Thankfully there haven’t been any deadlines to meet. I am one of those proverbial bloggers who can sniff a new direction but has found it challenging to go whole hog onto that path. Other responsibilities have crowded out my efforts to study and practice: the day job, family, a passion like triathloning, with fleeting thoughts of turning pro, dashed and turned to hobby. My beloved tri-bike turned to dust collector, plus, there was addiction! But not the kind you might think. I never got into chasing dragons. My obsession was pursuing 10% body fat and getting my split time for the mile under 5 minutes, which I did. But those days are behind me now.
The idea for The Hudson Valley Astrologer was born in the aftermath of profound change in my life. It has been a slow process and even slower progress has been made until finally I reached the point of feeling that the necessary skills were in place. Not to mention, aside from the astrological knowledge and knowhow, a painfully slow process of breaking through the heavily encrusted groundwork of social media. One of the missing ingredients has been consistency. A friend of mine from Japan once told me, 14 years ago, that the secret to building a following is to just be consistent. “Post something everyday,” he said. His practice has mushroomed. He also knew what he wanted to say. This was the other missing ingredient for me. I’ve been searching for something to say. Something significant! Never at a loss for words, but at the same time not feeling as though in my heart of hearts my contributions were significant enough.
“What do you have to say?” My teacher asked, “What do you want to say?” And then he added under his breath, “it is probably different from what needs saying.”
Covid-19 like most people around the world, forced me into my bunker. At the beginning of the pandemic it wasn’t clear how long we’d be in lock down but I took it as an opportunity, and put myself through a deep exercise of self-examination and reflection. The activity started out well-enough, and I approached it with an enthusiasm that I hadn’t felt in some time. Each day I woke up and made a bee line for my desk. I wouldn’t leave my perch until I had written three pages in my moleskin. “Huh!” was my un-profound exclamation of the experience, “this is fun!” Then it became work. Then it became agonizing! Then it became humiliating! Finally, it became illuminating, and this is not an overstatement. Quite the opposite, I am probably understating that fact by a magnitude of 9 or more, let’s say one order of magnitude for each planet, and like the planets, with some magnitudes weighing more heavily than others.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give a hat tip to Julia Cameron who wrote the Artist’s Way. This was the book I used to guide me through the gauntlet of self-examination. No doubt, Astrology was a valuable and useful tool to help me understand this work at another level, but what was important to the process, for me, was that My Way is the Way of the Astrologer: The Astrologer’s Way.
I also doff my hat to Tim Ferriss and Elizabeth Gilbert. They are the reason I picked the book up in the “second” place. Tune in to the conversation on Tim’s show #430. In that episode, which I highly recommend, they are over the Moon about The Artist’s Way. Suddenly, as I am listening, I see the book in my minds eye sitting on the book shelf at home. At the time I was commuting to the office, my day job, which has not been a source of fulfillment in my life but a way to keep the wolves away from the porch. Anyway, that book, which I’m certain I already have, I think has been sitting there since it was published in 1991. I didn’t even buy it myself, but “inherited” it as part of a divorce. The Artist’s Way came with the children so to speak, who also landed safely in my lap, but the book went on the shelf and stayed there. One of the reasons the book was put on the shelf, and with every good intentions to read it, was because the kids needed milk, and diapers changed, and dance lessons, and little league, and well, you know the drill. I just never got to it. Now, these two marvelous and incredible celebrity voices, bantering on like old school chums, giggling incessantly about how this “work,” like some sort of annual ritual they use to keep their flames lit, keeps them on track. They pull out Cameron’s stuff and put themselves through the gauntlet all over again. Every year! Wow!
The Artist’s Way is really a compendium of live workshops Cameron gave to hungry artists in the 1980’s. I wouldn’t say the book has a cult following because it has honestly been too successful for that. The Artists Way is kind of bigger than a cult. I found the book right where I left it 28 years before. My first Saturn Return! Motivated by the podcast and the fact that I’d just spoken with my cousin who’s neighbor is none other than Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame, and who graciously added an inscription to his book The Art of Work, I was probably paying more attention than the average listener, and way more attention than I might have otherwise.
I rolled up to a STOP SIGN. I was completely absorbed and couldn’t get the image of the book cover out of my head as I listened to all the wonderful benefits that might rain down from heaven just for the simple effort of introspective writing. Simple! Not easy, as I would soon discover. But simple! In my head, while waiting for the light to turn green, I was completely engrossed in the conversation. At the same time, I was holding the image of the book in my mind, wondering what bookshelf I’d placed it on, and floating in a fantasy of the better life that I’ve dreamed of many times before. “Honk!” “HHHhhhhoooooonnnnnnnKKK!” Looking up in the rearview mirror I first saw my grimaced face, startled and annoyed at the person behind the wheel who so rudely leaned on their car horn. My reverie of brighter days was suddenly disrupted when the siren song, wrapped in the impatience of serious person who needed to get to work, blared inconsiderately in my ear. “Are you serious?” I yelled, half answering to myself, “why yes their serious. They WANT to get to work.” The same dog whistle I’ve been listening to for years. Each morning I set the alarm. Get up! And let the drudgery begin! This was what my reverie was about, an escape from all that, from what I felt “forced” to do by circumstance. But my heart wasn’t in it. Instead, I realized, I needed to move toward doing something I loved. Why not feel more aligned with purpose? My purpose?
“OK! OK! Hold your horses!” I shouted at the rearview, when suddenly I realized, that I was sitting at a STOP SIGN, and waiting for the LIGHT TO CHANGE.
This morning a friend sent me an Epictetus quote: “Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happened the way it happens: then you’ll be happy.” This phrase is representative of the stoic mindset known as amor fati. Ferriss is a huge fan of stoicism. The stoics are still on my Must Read List, so I’ve not immersed myself the way Tim has, yet, and honestly I think I already get it. Those comments will have to wait though and I promise to get back to you after I get a better understanding of what the Seneca’s of the old world have to say. But the gist of my philosophy is this: Everyone is a stoic! Especially if you’ve successfully navigated your Saturn Return. Just ask me, here I was on my second round. So far, so good!
My car was slowly moving again, as I listened to the episode on the Tim Ferriss Show. I even listen to Tim’s commercials choosing not to fast forward out of amazement and admiration for how the guy monetizes everything. Fast forward to the big elephant in the room. I had this notion that there was something big in the air, but haven’t talked about it with anyone. Saturn conjunct Pluto was behind us… this was May 2020 when I listened to Tim and Elizabeth, the epic conjunction that set the year up came and went on January 12th. Or did it? The feeling that something was about to change was palpable. “Oh well, maybe the big shift has more to with the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction,” I thought to myself. The latter came on December 21, 2020. Astrologers call it the Great Mutation, and it was still looming at the time of the podcast. “That has got to be the bend in the road I’ve been waiting for,” I thought. “Finally, it’s ‘My Turn!’”
My hope was that I would get to BE the blazing fire that makes flame and brightness out of everything thrown on it, to paraphrase another stoic, Marcus Aurelius. Maybe it is my turn! May is is time to “light it up.”
Let’s Go People!
On the way home I ran into Barnes and Noble and immediately bought a moleskin, not wanting to wait for the mail, or for the light to change, while waiting at a STOP SIGN. The next morning I was at my desk and made my first entry into My Morning Notes.