Happy Thanksgiving! A sudden turn of events meant that I had to stay home. This is my first Thanksgiving alone, and it feels like…Saturday. Like nothing. Like I’m not missing anything. I guess when you don’t really look forward to Thanksgiving, you don’t necessarily miss it when you don’t have it.
But I’m actually doing things I find enjoyable. I made buffalo wings for dinner (a traditional Finger Lakes dish). I don’t have to wear shoes or socks or pants. I got to take a walk in the sunshine before I discovered the reason I can’t share this day with anyone. I’m doing astrology all day, particularly solar returns, and working on a novel I’ve been adding to bit by bit for a while. I get to text with my favorite Capricorn who also doesn’t like Thanksgiving but also loves to cook and do things herself (she completely renovated half her house into separate living chambers recently, and it looks amazing).
And those wings were a treat, because I can’t really eat like that too often.
It’s getting late and the world is quiet, and I can’t tell if those moaning sounds I hear in my apartment are the neighbors having sex, or ghosts.
Or ghosts having sex.
To Grow Old and to Age
One of the things I’m now facing is that people that I have peer relationships with can and do die, and it makes me reflect on my own mortality. I can think two people I know offhand who died before they were able to succeed in their chosen profession or completely overcome setbacks to fully revive their careers – a friend of mine who died in 2014, and Rick – and it’s different.
It’s not like when you’re in your 20s and 30s and your friends die too young, well before their prime, and that you’re going to carry their memory with you at every milestone that you make that they missed, each one getting easier and easier to deal with because the person you were back them isn’t like the person you are now, and there’s distance between you and your young self and therefore distance between you and those old friends frozen in memory. This is different. This stings differently. Because we expect people to go into middle age and old age and be fulfilled, and if they can be snatched out of mortality with so much left they wanted to do, than what about us? And what about us when we’re reflecting on the ones who looked toward the future and then said “I don’t want it. I can’t face it” because they had no hope?
The friend who died in 2014 and Rick died suddenly but not necessarily unexpectedly. Neither man wanted to really see what the future held for them, and neither wanted to face the possibility of more years pushing a boulder uphill, and neither one, I think, was ready to consider the idea of changing aspirations. What else could they have done with their lives? They couldn’t imagine anything else, and their careers were such a part of them. They weren’t corporate men; they were brands, they were people who were not only their own businesses, but their own products, to the point where I think they may have confused the success of the product with the success of the man himself. And while the product is stagnant, the product can only be reinvented or more likely, replaced, the man is dynamic and grows.
And he grows old, and he grows tired of carrying the memory of that younger self to every milestone he makes, wanting so much for that young man from the past to see that he made it, he did it, he’s successful, he’s immortal.
But what if you don’t make it, and what if you were wrong all along, and then it becomes too late?
I’ll be 41 on Saturday. I’m not sad about it, not yet, because I’m still intrigued that I can actually grow old, that I am capable of becoming older: I have always seen myself as a person who renews herself, not a person who succumbs to age, and yet I am aging, if not in body than in mind. I keep thinking that if I look young and sound young and the world reacts to me as if I’m younger than 41, then I get more years before I really have to be middle age even if I don’t get more years of life itself.
I took a birthday selfie ahead of time:
I look a lot better in November than I looked in June. My haircut sucks in that picture though; I’m having to let it grow out since going to the salon ever six weeks during the second wave of the pandemic is out of the question. I really need to get rid of that Old Navy sweater, but when I’m not on Zoom, it doesn’t matter what I wear.
So I know what I look like at 41. It’s hard to imagine that I’m able to actually be this old and have life feel very uncinematic, very untragic, very unconventional.
But this is where I’m supposed to be: if not here, in some other place of transition.
You actually probably already know what you’re supposed to do.
I know what my North Node says I’m supposed to do. I’m kind of doing it already. I will always be doing something that provides a service to the world, something that helps people, even my side hustles, because I have compulsion to act on this North Node. I get a hobby, I find a way to monetize that hobby, I help people, and then I start teaching that thing.
You know what you’re supposed to be doing in this life. It’s really broader than most of us realize; “helping people” is a very broad category, and not every person is going to get up from the sofa suddenly wondering if there’s someone out there who is sad and needs assurance. Either I have an unknown psychic connection with a wistful person that I feel compelled to cheer up, or I’m just sharing the sentiment of all the people my age and writing about it because as life would have it, I don’t have much else to do but this, and I don’t have much motivation but to do this.
But who is successful? How do we know?
Whenever I see Jenna Ellis’s sad, desperate eyes, I’m glad that I’m the kind of lawyer no one sees and that I don’t have a shot at greatness in this profession by any conventional definition.
I swear I met this family that is the subject of this song in a diner in the Finger Lakes when I was teenager:
Are they successful? To me, they may as well be immortal.
What you think you’re supposed to do with your life isn’t necessarily what you’re supposed to do with your life. For most of us, there is no ready-made job or career or social role that we can simply pour ourselves into and work until we die and live fulfilled. That’s not the world we chose to incarnate into; there is no job equivalent of vocation. Most of us don’t even really know what it takes to successfully engage in a certain vocation. If you can imagine a truly Sagittarian type being a successful trial lawyer, you don’t know what it means to prepare for trial, much less the exceptions to hearsay.
If right now, the pandemic is making you wonder what you should be doing with your life, and that’s because what you had may not be any more, go with that. Even if the world will return to the way it was before, you won’t. You can’t.
Your vocation is a mix of many things, including the 10th house, the Nodes, the Sun, the Moon, and all the rulers of the work-related houses. But it’s more than that. It’s also your ability to change your direction to sail with the prevailing winds as opposed to letting them capsize you.
And that is the secret to staying young. I remember old Koreans doing all these twists and turns on the exercise equipment on the mountains in Seoul because they believed that a flexible spine was physical youth, and maybe it was, because they weren’t even breaking a sweat climbing up the mountainside, would drink makeoli when they got to the top, and then mosey their way down, all old and shit, easy as pie. Wrinkles, gray hair, and standing 4’10” and all, having a much easier time than I was, not a spot of dirt on their perfectly coordinated hiking outfits with the poles to match.
But this is a time of transition not just for me, but for a lot of people, and I know that I am supposed to pivot in a particular manner, and I am.
If you are feeling lost, too old, too unready for a world that seems to be rapidly changing, I’ve found that some things are still true:
The world still needs talented people to actually do things. While it’s easy to get recognition essentially doing nothing — lip-syncing to someone else’s hard work, dancing unremarkably for a minute or two, saying sassy and vapid things to a sea of followers you bought — when everything is a contest and the prize goes to the hyper-mediocre and we are all supposed to be brands before we even have something to brand, there’s still real people out there. They have real feelings, real fears, real needs, real hearts, real desires to connect and be worthwhile and to find peace in themselves and in the world. They actually want to say, laugh at things that are genuinely funny without making sure it’s okay with everyone around them. They want take a hike in the forest without stopping every few feet to add it to their story. They want to look up at the stars in the sky in real life.
What people actually want from you is not to look at you but for you to see them. I’ve recently had the opportunity to work with a lot more clients than usual, and it’s great. Beautiful people with wonderful hearts. Maybe if in 41 years all my decisions, my mistakes, my self-neglect, my loathing, my journeys, regrets, sorrows, refusals to take action and all other failures have pushed me along this road, it’s not so bad.
Ever gotten to look inside someone’s heart and see it shine it’s own special light? When you do, that’s how you know you’re a successful astrologer.