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New York City, Friday, May 18, 2007

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Brittany and Malachi on Rondout Creek, Kingston, NY.
Brittany and Malachi on Rondout Creek, Kingston, NY. Photo by Eric Francis.

With a Little Help From Our Friends
by Judith Gayle

WE LIVE IN interesting times -- some say that's a Chinese curse (I wonder if the Chinese say it's the American curse, or German or Japanese.) The times are so extraordinary, so exhausting, we sometimes fail to see that there is ebb and flow and moments of progress; 21st-century life seems more like one long bone-crunching gauntlet to run, a daily dash to get wherever we have to be and do whatever has to be done. The challenges come at us at breakneck speed. Our neighbors are "snappish," work demanding, children restless. Our world is in chaos, our government unresponsive and our bills due on time lest we court financial ruin. And we seem to be doing all this with less resource than we used to enjoy and, certainly, less peace of mind.

I don't remember ever feeling that there was so little time and so much that needed my attention, or feeling stretched so thin. As we attempt to balance this heaviness, it's difficult to get our heads up above the fog to see where we are, to see how much we've changed in the last years -- or remained the same. To see where we've come from. To see where we're going.

As the year 2000 rolled around, I was wagging my tail. Technology and prosperity were leaping along, hand in hand, and we were considering how best we could hit the 21st century running towards creativity, international collaboration, environmental responsibility and the end of poverty. When the Y2K problem didn't occur, with all its projected angst and hoopla, it seemed like pretty smooth sailing ahead. True, we had a new Republican president who had taken power directly from the hands of the Supreme Court, an unsettling affair. Some of us were concerned about that, but we saw it as a wrinkle in the fabric, not a rip. Ahhhh -- those last sweet days of innocence.

Since that time, we've suffered 9/11, war in Afghanistan, multiple terror attacks in Europe and Asia, a sharp division of politics along radical partisan lines, a disturbing morphing of church and state and a series of restrictions to civil rights and social norms in the unceasing, and euphemistically named, "war on terror." An ill-advised and idealistic preemptive attack on Iraq has divided our nation and our world, and left us occupiers, mostly unwelcome and often unwilling. Corporations have prospered recklessly while the average Joe has lost financial ground, and governmental systems and protections seem to be on their last legs while billions in national treasure continue to go overseas to fund a military solution doomed to fail. Our duty in all this, as assigned by our president, is to continue to spend, spend, spend, and keep everything as it always was -- and only some of us have noticed that this is not only bad but impossible advice. We're trying to do more with less, in an attempt to keep things humming along -- and running like hamsters on a wheel. I think we'd better stop and take a breather. We need to think this over.

This New Moon in Taurus is a perfect time to take that moment, to turn our attention from all that's rushing at us on the outside and attend to what's inside. True, it's a moon that's squared by Neptune, our old dream-weaving friend, so we don't want to let go of reality entirely, lest we be swept away. But such a configuration brings us opportunity to visit our spiritual center, discover internal resources and expand our consciousness. We will do ourselves a service if we leave the external madness to mind itself for a bit while we find gentle, practical ways in which to calm our soul, create some pleasure for ourselves and others, and reflect on what we want and what we've outgrown. Henry David Thoreau gave us a timeless quote when he said, "We are constantly invited to be who we are." Each New Moon offers such a moment, but this one is particularly potent in providing us opportunity to move deeply into our psyche to get in touch with ourselves, and to decide what we want.

In the big picture, how we got from a brightly hopeful year 2000 to an exhausted rebellious 2007 isn't so hard to understand. There was a lot of illusion going on at the turn of the century, challenges to our foundation that we had not acknowledged or attended. The condition of our nation couldn't have deteriorated so quickly if that had not been so. We had grown complacent with government handling everything for us, trusted the ethical vision of our leadership and had given little thought to the problems of civil rights, wealth distribution, trade agreements, corporate ownership verging on monopoly and growing dependence on the military-industrial complex and its foreign misadventure. It's important to remember that this isn't the first time that our nation has stumbled in its direction, divided itself sharply, or been threatened in the democratic principles of its republic.

Humans are "pattern people." We do things over and over until we, hopefully, get them right. Astrologers understand that better than most people; we study the energies as they return repeatedly to bring attention to what needs renewing. One of my favorite illustrations of this process is called "The Hole in the Sidewalk." You may have heard the story.

A person falls into a hole in the sidewalk, and no matter how hard they try, they can't get out. Over time, circumstance liberates them and they move along, wondering how that could have happened to them. In short order, they fall into another hole. This time it doesn't take them quite so long to free themselves, although they still may not notice that they're surrounded by similar holes. They continue along their path. Several holes, and struggles, later, they find themselves stopped in front of another such hole. Chances are they'll fall into this one, too, but they've developed skills in recognizing holes and climbing out, so they free themselves quickly and without wrenching internal struggle. It is at this point that they realize there are holes in their path and know that they no longer have to mindlessly drop into them. They can choose to cross the street.

That person is us. We snag ourselves in our own personal "stuff" over and over until we learn about ourselves, and determine that we can do things differently. We have national and global "stuff," too, and we ignore it at our own peril. Lately, the combination of the two has created a sidewalk that seems so filled with potholes that there's nothing going on but a long series of anguished falling and desperate climbing. But we're learning, aren't we? We're making more progress than we know. We can recognize the holes now -- that's one short step in consciousness away from avoiding them.

A recent poll has George Bush with a mere 23% approval on his handling of the Iraq war. Nixon had 22% approval when he resigned. The Congress is battering the administration with hearings, exposing a corrupt and partisan core that flies in the face of our democratic process. The war itself is winding down, no matter what the president says -- the public has made its wishes known. We would have preferred to win the day and stabilize this country, but nothing the government has put forward was designed to accomplish that, giving us yet another example of the ineptitude of Bush's leadership. The grassroots movements have grown into mature organizations that are impacting the political process, and the conservatives running for president seem old, tired and out of touch with a modern world. We have a gigantic mess on our hands, but as a nation we are no longer willing to allow it to grow unattended. We're climbing out of the hole, and it's a bigger one than we ever could have imagined, but the astrology of the next few years hints that we'll not only get out of it but cross the street by the time we're done.

There's a variation on the Sidewalk story that I like a lot. A man falls into a deep hole and can't get out. A doctor walks by and the guy yells up for help -- the doctor writes a prescription and drops it in, then strolls away. A while later a priest walks by and hears the fellow screaming in dismay. He writes out a prayer and drops it into the hole. The man is getting more and more hysterical. Soon, a friend walks by and hears the cries for help. Recognizing the voice, he jumps into the hole. The trapped man is horrified. "What the hell's the matter with you?" he demands. "Now we're both in here." "Yes," replies his friend, "but I've been here before. I know my way out."

We have a lot of climbing ahead, my dears. Take the occasion of the Taurus New Moon to dream some sweet dreams, set some new intentions, create the vision of the life you want for yourself and for the whole...feel it, try it on for size. Treat yourself and others gently, find the pleasures and insights that come to us like little snatches of Beethoven in a great cacophony of insistent rock and roll. Be mindful that you are the designer of your life, not your circumstances; the circumstances will change as you do. And remember -- there are a lot of us in this hole, working together to get ourselves out. A lot of friends, depending on one another to do what we know we can do, be the people we want to be, and create the world that we hoped we'd see back in those innocent days before the century turned.

The 21st century is still awaiting us. When we get out of this hole, we'll all cross the street, together.

CREDITS: Managing Editor: Priya Kale. Webmaster: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Proofreader and Fact checker: Sara Churchville. Horoscope Editor: Jessica Keet.

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