Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Saturn comes back around to show you everything. Let's you choose what you will not see and then drags you down like a stone, or lifts you up again." ~TOOL

Quite a while ago, I wrote about my quest to learn more about my spiritual and philosophical self. I was enthusiastic about the idea at the time, but quickly became distracted once again by "life" and all the little comfort zones I'd crafted. But once again, that unsettling urgency came roaring back. Putting my world in order, while helpful and fulfilling, was only a temporary fix.

A conversation that I had with my aunt quite a while back bubbled into my mind. There is an astrological event known as Saturn Return (you can read about it here: Whether you subscribe to astrology, this makes brilliant sense to me, and many psychologists even support the theory. It is a time of complete transformation and reformation occurring between 28 and 30, when Saturn returns back to its position during your birth. It can last into your early 30s. I've been in Saturn Return for a while, and perhaps it's been lingering because I've not completely addressed it. I have repositioned many aspects of my life, cultivating new perspectives and ways of living, accomplishing new tasks, achieving new goals, but Saturn is tugging at my pant leg. Part of Saturn's function is to promote growth and change, even if it means you must endure pain and fear. Uncertainty, pain, fear, and doubt are not obstacles, but, from a Saturnalian perspective, ways in which we are shown there is need for change.

This has to be the missing piece of the puzzle. It is the only aspect of my personal growth that I've admittedly neglected. The fear of not knowing where to begin is easily solved by simply starting somewhere. There is no rule that says I must begin at a specific point. I have a literary mind. I know full well that most books have a bibliography, so if I simply pick up one that seems like it might be of interest to me, I've opened the first door. And I'm eager to begin because I think it will also allow this blog to finally take a more pointed shape, which is something else I've been struggling to solve.

Today I compiled a list of books that I think are a good starting point, and gave it to a co-worker who has a library connection. It's time to begin. Mercury may be in retrograde, but I think Saturn and I are about to kick his ass.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse." ~ T. S. Eliot

It's been a while since I've posted anything and the excuse that I've been too busy is a lousy one. Yes, I was incredibly busy, but as I've been thinking about it, I realized that it has more to do with the fact that my world was in complete disorder.  And although I have a lot going on, that disorder has a lot to do with my own action or inaction. This is my first Saturday morning in a long time when I am neither running around like a madwoman nor comatose on the couch with no initiative to get things done.

Last quarter was a terribly difficult one for me. My students were absolutely horrid, and although the schedule was disrupted by snow and illness, I was intensely frustrated with them, their lack of initiative to help get things back on track, and their general attitude towards class. But, as I am prone to do, I began internalizing it as my own fault. Was I not working hard enough? Was I on autopilot, as I had taught this material before? Was I allowing the other things going on in my life to affect my teaching?

I found myself upset and frustrated with the way my days were going, what I was and was not accomplishing, but the truth of the matter is that I allowed that. I got lazy. I was procrastinating. And I was disturbed by the fact that I wasn't trying all that hard to right the ship. As with anything I do, I set incredibly high standards, and I was not meeting my own expectations. I thought about all the things I wasn't accomplishing, working through, or putting back in order. I let the gym slack quite a bit, I was still plagued by the hole left in my heart by Mr. Doe, and I had no sense of pride in the work I was doing. I was fighting myself.

Last Sunday, my aunt and my mother completed a half-marathon. They walked the 13.1 miles. I ran it last year, but this year I did not train. The excuses were my schedule and being sick a few times, but again, the truth of the matter is, if I worked hard enough, if I tried hard enough, I could've done it. And as I watched the runners come through, and as I watched my mother and my aunt cross that finish line, I had a conflict of emotions--insane pride for my mother and aunt for accomplishing something so amazing, and intense disappointment in myself. I loathe the feeling of regret, and I am fortunate that I have relatively few regrets, but this one hurt. And although my aunt and my mom didn't come down on me for it, I was disappointed in myself. I felt I had let them down.

The realization is this: Each day, a fair and reasonable balance for accomplishment needs to be set. I am the type of person that needs order in my world. Yes, I recognize that it's not always perfect, there are curve balls, there are surprises and disruptions in the universe. But these days belong to me. I can and should decide what is really possible each day. There were days in the months of disorder where my "to do" list was Olympian in nature (go food shopping, go to the gym and do three days' worth of working out in one, grade papers, clean my bathroom), and if I didn't accomplish everything on that list, again, disappointment and frustration. Balance, by definition, is reasonable. Are there days when it's go-go-go? Of course. But, the tasks I set forth for myself need to be reasonable so I can accomplish them all.

So, as I sit here at my clean and neatly organized desk, in my clean and neatly organized apartment, I feel a sense of renewal. I have a new quarter and a new batch of students now. So far, they seem great. Will I feel that way at Week 10? I hope so. But I also know that I might feel otherwise. The point is that I have to simply do the best I can with what I've got, and recognize that what I need in my world is order and balance. I'm simply that way. When it gets out of hand, I have to stop, think, and revise. And it only takes a minute to do.