I turn 40 on Thanksgiving. My birthday present to myself is hiring a maid service so I have more time for writing.
It’s all part of a cosmic plan, just as it’s apparently all part of cosmic plan that I live this long, which was not something I was expecting, at least not when I got tattooed as a youngster.
Perhaps my next birthday present will be tattoo removal.
But I do know that I am having a mid-life crisis, eve if it’s a little early, as transiting Neptune continues to square my natal Neptune, causing me to rethink my illusions of what I thought life would be like, and in particular, who I thought I would be as an adult.
I don’t think anyone is actually an adult. I think the world is full of children trying to figure out how to be an adult and how to do the things adults do.
I don’t think I look 40 or even feel 40, but I’m not even sure what that means anyway. I don’t know what “40” is for someone like me, because I have only ever been me, and this human hasn’t been in her 40s yet, but I suspect it will include a certain amount of liberation, ambivalence, gravitas, gravity, and attempts at going to bed at a more reasonable hour that will be thwarted by things as it often is, but hopefully more of the things I don’t mind, like staying up to watch the snowfall or lightning slither across the sky over Lake Michigan, or standing outside and watching the clouds slowly glide over the Full Moon, wondering to myself “how far is far? How near is near?” Because I don’t seem to ever grow old enough to get used to the idea that I can actually see the unchanging surface of the Moon from wherever I stand on Earth.
But how can you get used to that?
Because I thought that somehow, by starting and restarting lives, I’d never get to the point where I would have a mid-life crisis. What I didn’t realize was that it’s not a crisis of status or ego — though they are very much part of it, in a way — but a crisis of the soul that we’re not prepared for, ever, because middle age is a fairly recent phenomenon in human history (as is the concept of adolescence), and the very civilizations that can all but ensure survival up to and beyond the age of 40 are constructed in such a way that status is our indicator of worth, that what we produce or appear to produce is our status…so if you have both the opportunity and the time to notice how you are aging and drifting on the tide of life further and further from the safety of the dock we call youth, then you’re going to have to go through the process of learning to stop reaching back for that dock.
There is helplessness in getting older, even if you’re allowed to get older (like if you’re a man). I don’t recall having so much anxiety when my body was changing so much more rapidly as a child, especially during puberty. I wanted to become an adult, the sooner the better. But it was the beginning of something, and I was beginning to become something that I would always be from them on, which is a giant child trying to figure out how to move this post-pubescent marionette I inhabit through the world without tangling or severing my strings, lest I be on my own.
But I always was on my own, and there is no master puppeteer except Time.
And I now know now that if Pinocchio knew better, that if he were patient enough to gather a few more experiences under his belt that he would never have wished to be a real boy. He would have wished for a polyurethane seal and a lifetime warranty.
Or maybe this is a start of a new life and the only thing holding me back is my refusal to let go (Neptune wants you to let go and let things dissolve and float up into the aether) and my desire to fix things I thought I would have fixed by now (Virgo reflecting). But to be fair to myself, it took me a long time to see what was broken, and some things didn’t break until adulthood.
But maybe it doesn’t matter at all, because I’ve been noticing lately just how much life can be ordinary even when it’s not, and I’m lucky that I get to feel that life is ordinary. And anything can be ordinary, even fulfilling your desires or getting what you want, or being broke, or being broken, or being well-loved or wondering if you’re going to die alone, so long as you experience it. This means that I don’t get to redo things or try them out anew, and that maybe the things I haven’t done or experienced just aren’t in the cards, and that I won’t be able to do everything this incarnation.
When I was in law school, feeling too old and too independent to be told what to do again, to sit in class again, my boyfriend would say that there are people who would give anything to have my problem, people who would love to be at my school, in my class, or in any law school, in any class, people who can’t get into any law school with their undergraduate grades, people who can never get a high enough LSAT score to get into any law school, people who have always dreamed of being lawyers but could never pass a bar exam.
There are people who can’t write their way out of paper bag, and you do it for fun because you’re bored and trying to escape from reality.
Imagine if that was your reality, to have a singular dream you could never make come true with the time you have on Earth.
Oh, but I am just like everyone else who has an unattainable dream, or an as-yet unattainable dream in which I haven’t found the right formula of talent, exposure, and opportunity, and that’s what a mid-life crisis is all about, right?
What about those fledging dreams that never took flight? What do I owe them? Is that what I have figure out over the next few years?
I am of the mind that given the right learning methods and time as needed as well as a healthy dose of curiosity, anyone can learn anything, and at 40, I can learn something new, too. I mean, I became a lawyer at 39, and there’s still so much to learn.
I intended to publish this post three weeks ago, as I have been suffering a bit of a writer’s block. The best remedy is to keep writing, because eventually, you hit the right gear for the geography and are moving steadily. Not so — I have tons of notes of ideas and half-formed literary pictures from the woodwork of my mind that, if I stare long enough, look like something recognizable.
But on November 22nd, I have had experiences that make me wonder if in the rest of my life I am hard and closed off, if I am not as loving or joyful as I could be. I think my cynicism and darkness has a place, but if it is out of darkness the heart reaches out, I might want to look down once in a while to see if that’s actually happening.
Today I was in communication with friends and colleagues, both professional friends and colleagues who are lawyers (and we had Chipotle, courtesy of our courtroom judge), and of friends and colleagues who are my partners in woo, and today, it all overlapped. I also remembered that The Occult Bookstore was to open back up, and it’s not far away from work, so I got books on Cosmobiology and professional astrology. They have weekly open houses on Wednesday night, and I think I should go after work, because it is there and it’s been lonely working alone for the past 20 years interpreting the stars to explain human behavior, which is shaping up to be increasingly more bizarre with each passing day.
But this evening, I was speaking to my mentor who told me/reminded me that we work on the surreal side of human behavior. Because we do, and the parties involved often don’t even see how what they do is wrong. Many of them will never see the problem, much less address it. Some will defiantly refuse to do what needs to be done, and if caught in a lie, flaunt it. Some will simply run away and start over again, usually starting over again the same patterns of behavior.
And I know, intellectually, we are surrounded by pain and sorrow on all sides, though our jobs focus on the pain and sorrow of those the least able to change it. It would be a dream come true if we weren’t necessary.
And I always thought I was good at leaving work at work, never taking it home, never taking it into my heart, and that I was just being righteous, not self-righteous, and the work was a form of loving expression.
But I come home so angry that I am ready to go back on a promise to do no more baneful magick, and I have to ask myself:
What have I abandoned at my desk that drives me here? Because if love is strong, and love heals, cures, remedies, fixes, whatever, then why not choose that? Both a curse and a compassionate act can sting depending on how the recipient takes it.
Where is my compassion tonight? Because if I can be loving and compassionate, I could become easier to love in the first place, and maybe that’s really all a person needs to live a full life, right?
But something tells me that isn’t going to be enough for me, or the end all and be all, and I’m no George Bailey.
But George Bailey wasn’t George Bailey until the end of his film, and I’m still in the middle of the second act of mine.
Neptune is retrograde for now, back into my 12th house, squaring natal Neptune in the 9th house, trining Mercury retrograde in the 8th, creating a perfect storm of writer’s block and poet’s paralysis, leaving me to feast on the lotuses of my imagination, living only for this indulgence.
The question that mostly easily comes to mind in this confusion is who I am, and if that’s who I want to be, and if perhaps there are doors that have shut forever. Everyone loves sunny, positive people, at least superficially, and everyone loves youth, and they all love the idea that we all start the same, die the same, and have the same amount of agency in the world. But you know that I don’t trust Pollyannas and positivity-junkies, because when I’m hungry, I need real food, not just candy, and real food is a complex mix of the bitter, salty, sour, fatty, and sweet.
Social media is full of adults giving each other candy.
And I wonder if, had I been doing this work up until I was 40, if I began as a lawyer in my twenties, if I would feel the same way, if I would still be of the mind to wonder about my own disposition, or if I would have broken through years ago and have a demeanor as bright as my choice in clothing.
Above all, I have always been curious to see what happens after this — whatever it is that is happening right now — passes, and who I will be when this passes and the me that I will greet when I get there. Year by year, there is someone new, or new-ish, standing in front of me, though still me, though changing so imperceptibly at times.
There are milestones though. In nearly one year, I lost all the weight I gained in law school and while studying for the bar, 70 lbs of Miriam melted away to reveal a more familiar face and body shape. Of course, I came into law school overweight (though not yet obese, and certainly not yet morbidly obese), BUT…this is a lot more manageable now, a lot easier to work with, and I can go into 40 with the ability to walk up stairs, put on socks without breaking out in a sweat, wear shoes with heels, bend over without grunting, and walk fifteen minutes without huffing and puffing and turning red.
To have a body is a blessing. I notice how it moves now, and how it moves with much more ease, how it fits in spaces, how it embodies some part of me, and how the closer I get to a normal weight, how it more resembles the me that I remember being. There is no set weight that is so high, no biological predisposition to being overweight. No apex predator has such a thing, and no matter how Neptunian I am, I can’t fool myself into thinking otherwise.
Because that’s what this is: a Neptunian journey, another one, out of the fog and into the light, wherever that is.
I have one more hour of being 39. I’ll be writing.