Two things I’m not good at: planning outings and taking selfies. I’m going to try doing both more often this year. Planning outings, as in finding something to do, buying tickets, carving out the time, and committing to going, is an easy thing someone my age should be able to do. However, I’m surprisingly passive about certain things, and one of them is figuring out what to do (another is figuring out what to make for dinner), but I realize I will spend the rest of my life behind a computer in some way or another if I don’t get the motivation to go out and do stuff. My boyfriend, a Libra Sun/Taurus Moon, is no help. He just knows what he doesn’t want to do. I, Sagittarius Sun/Aries Moon, want it to happen (Moon) but am fine with just going with the flow whenever I wake up (Sun), so long as it’s not loud, crowded, or full of crude people (Pisces Rising).
I’m 40 now, so I am giving myself permission to do things like go to WTTW events, buy memberships to theaters and museums, collect and write down my recipes in case I ever have someone to hand them down who wants them, engage in conversations about raising children though I have none, go to office Christmas parties without a fight, and such. I feel liberated. I’m also old enough to have finally realized that no one is paying attention to me or even looking at me most of the time, so it doesn’t matter much what I do so long as I don’t get fired or arrested.
Oof Ouch Owie My Mid Life Crisis
I previously wrote about the transit of the midlife crisis, Neptune square Neptune, and how I feel at the moment about it. I don’t have any wisdom in hindsight to give you because I’m still here, and I’m here kind of early, as it started when I was 39, before Neptune went retrograde, and will continue through my early forties. Like all other Neptune transits, it creeps up on you, and you may not even think it’s a Neptune transit that’s causing whatever is happening. A lot of Neptune transit activity gets blamed on or attributed to other things, like progressions, but whenever something just creeps up and you suddenly find yourself in a fog, questioning everything and wondering if you even belong here, it’s Neptune.
Neptune is a creep who creeps in a creepy way into your life. Every Neptune transit is like tide slowly rising, or fog slowly coming in.
Neptune square Neptune is perhaps the ultimate existential crisis, because it’s not about identity – it’s about the soul – who we are vs. who we imagine ourselves to be, who others are vs. who we imagine them to be. Ideally one would come out of this with maturity, a stronger love and understanding for the people in their lives, an acceptance of those people’s foibles without enabling or putting up with abuse, and a plan underway to do what is fulfilling to the soul or to surrender to what is not fulfilling to the soul, knowing that it serves a greater purpose.
This sounds all New-Agey, but look at it this way: a man has a midlife crisis. He sees that his wife has aged too, and she is preoccupied with the kids, work, her parents, etc., and doesn’t take the time to take care of her appearance like she used to do. He doesn’t like his job, and he always thought he would be a lot further in his career than he is. The faucet in the kitchen leaks. The kids need braces. He hates his minivan. He sees his friends with the things he wants, and they seem happy. Are they happy? What did he miss by getting married to this woman, having this career, buying this home, having these children? Would he do it over again? Can he escape, even for a little while, by trading in the minivan for something sportier, maybe spending some time with that younger, naive co-worker of his who looks up to him and doesn’t know that he hates his job and has hit a ceiling? Maybe leave his wife and children? Maybe quit his job and live abroad? Maybe get plastic surgery and reinvent himself, move to Hollywood, and spend the rest of his life as an extra and a waiter, hoping to be discovered someday?
Or maybe he doesn’t do any of this at all. Of course, he does pull away from his family, in his mind. But he also has to look at himself: he chose his wife for a reason. She knows him, and she loves him, and he knows this because she will wash the skids from his underwear. Would his young co-worker do that? If he trades in his minivan, how will the kids get to the dentist, and how will they get braces so they can have nice smiles so they can make good impressions on people so they can remain in the middle class? And what else would he do if not this job? Would he have the benefits, the freedom, the knowledge, the comfort, to go somewhere else?
After all, it’s paying for that minivan, those braces, the mortgage, the health insurance — there’s a higher purpose to this 9 to 5, and it’s those kids and that wife who washes his underwear without complaining, the people who will be there even if he loses all of these things. One time, years ago, there was a romance, and there was hope, and there were babies whose eyes were wide with possibilities, and there was excitement and fear. Even if his life is ordinary, even if he has to give up on a dream for now, he knows why he sacrifices. And maybe he can join community theater, or get a nice car when the kids move out, or rekindle his romance with wife who is also going through the same thing but with the additional burden of being the parent who isn’t allowed to have a crisis because she’s too busy, because she’s the mother in a society that refuses to allow mothers to find themselves after motherhood and expects women to support their men when they have their existential crises.
And this man comes out of this okay. He doesn’t do any lasting damage. He knows why he does what he does, and he has learned to let go of the dreams of his youth that don’t serve the higher purpose he has now. He knows why he loves his wife, and he’s a better husband now. He’s a better father. He has purpose and his life has meaning, and no one can take it from him, because no one can grant it to him because no mortal has that power. It’s a transfiguration of the soul.
I’m wondering if the midlife crisis transit is, in part, actually about realizing that your younger self isn’t actually that smart, and that the things you wanted as a younger person don’t actually need to come to fruition, because you didn’t know anything back then, and that you don’t necessarily need to be seen by the world as this thing or that thing in order to be what you are. The more you experience life, the more new dreams you will have, and the more your old dreams will change.
But the scary thing is about choosing which ones to let go, because not all dreams are meant to be let go. There are karmic purposes we shouldn’t give up on because that’s the reason we’re here on Earth in this incarnation, and it’s hard to tell which one is which. That’s the crisis. George Bailey’s friends bailed him out, and Clarence got his wings, but not before the entire life story played out, a life story that was not fair from George’s point of view, but nonetheless occurred.
So, I’m going to start going out more, and doing so deliberately, because I’m guessing my existential itch can’t be scratched at home or at work.
Another thing I am not good at is taking selfies, and it’s taken me thirteen, fifteen years, or however long I have been owning smartphones to figure out that this is actually a skill I’ll need to communicate with the wide world, because most people are interested in human faces. People are very interested in their own faces, but specifically seek out the faces behind the things that catch their attention, just like in real life.
But I don’t like posing for photos or taking pictures of myself, and that’s not terribly uncommon for Pisces Rising people. Some of us love it, and they use selfies and videos of themselves as a main form of communication. Some of us don’t. I photograph well sometimes, but not often. I was maybe ten years old when I stopped wanting to be photographed, but that was easy to do, because cameras weren’t everywhere. I don’t know my angles, and I don’t know lighting well. My eyes are bluegreen but they always look black in photos and I don’t like making faces for no reason like I’m constantly trying to entertain a toddler.
A lot of that is lack of practice, but it’s also a fear of putting my face out in the world that has little to do with my rising sign, but rather a fear of people knowing my business – even what I look like — without me knowing who they are and the fear that if it’s on the Internet, it’s there forever, and I can never really change or reinvent myself so long as traces of old me are there, even though there are traces of old me inside me and in the memories of other people.
But what changes so drastically from one year to the next? Here’s a picture of me from when I was 30 that I found recently. I think I took for an employment photo (because they have those in Korea):
Here’s another from when I was about 31, back from Korea:
I loved having short hair for years, up until pretty recently. This is me being a badass at 17 with my crewcut, looking like a small boy with mascara on:
I also have my senior picture, which always looked a bit alien to me:
Here’s a picture of me in my early sophomore year, about 14 or 15, obviously needing attention but not knowing what to do with it arrived:
And I have a few from when I didn’t fear getting my picture taken:
I suppose that when I was young, up until the age of 10, I wasn’t really conscious of how I looked. Sure, I had red hair, and I was kind of obnoxious-looking so not exactly getting by on my looks, but I didn’t yet have a need to flee from the spaces I was stuck in, a feeling that I distinctly felt more from the ages of ten onward. This is Piscean; it’s Neptunian to not want to occupy space and time wherever you are, and probably Piscean and/or Neptunian to not want to document the fact that you’re forced to occupy space and time, that you have a body, and it’s not utterly perfect, and nothing is how you dream it to be.
But I also didn’t really have pictures of me available for the world to see until my twenties, and the idea of taking multiple pictures of myself and posting them for attention seemed absurd, and for a time, it was absurd, because we didn’t document our lives with photographs. We had stupid shit, like Livejournal, and we weren’t old enough to have children to photograph and share said photographs with the universe. Many of us have warmed up to the idea of putting pictures of ourselves out in the world, but I’m still struggling with the idea. That’s no longer something prudent, but something anachronistic.
Photography is also a Neptunian art. It (used to) involve chemistry, illusion, the play of light and shadow, and glamour. I suppose it still does, perhaps more illusion and glamour than ever now that enhancing photos is all but expected, and people actually think you want to see pictures of them with dog noses and other dumb Snapchat filters. I have a friend who works as modeling agent who periodically reminds young women to not send agencies photographs of themselves with Snapchat or Instagram filters, because they do that. I think I’ve written about this before, but I can’t get over that.
But I’m also looking at this from the Xennial perspective, too, between generations, not quite Karen, not quite wasting all my money on avocado toast. Or maybe I’m just looking at it from the perspective of someone who is afraid to be caught here and now in space and time, leaving proof that I have been here, that I am not perfect, and that I can’t leave yet, someone who would never feel safe behind cartoon dog ears and noses.
I’m not talking about a lack of mindfulness. I don’t mind being here and now. I just don’t want to be here and now in the future when it’s been-there, done-that. And that doesn’t make any sense, because now, photography is a real-time event, and photographs can disappear if you’re not famous or if you don’t become a meme. Everyone wants to be followed, stalked, fawned over, flattered, and offered marketing opportunities, except the people who don’t, even though they do the exact same things as the people who do want that kind of attention.
I mean to say, in a roundabout way, photography in the Digital Age, especially personal photography, confuses me. That too, is Piscean and Neptunian. But I also realize that there is no more places for the hermit writer, typing away unseen in places far away, emerging every so often with a piece without having an online presence, without being recognizable on the street. That era is over, if there ever was one. If you want people to find you and remember you, they’ll want to know that you’re a person, and people have faces.
Some of us even have voices, too, but babysteps.
So far, 40 is probably going to be okay, and I think that tackling the camera-shyness first is a good start, because I absolutely intend to write about this until it’s over.
Here’s to the next half of living.
I’ll send pics.