Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chasing the Wheel

One of the versions of the Merlin and King Arthur story is that not only was Merlin a wizard, he lived his life backwards. He started out as an old and wise wizard emerging from the magical hills, advised Uther Pendragon, then taught Uther's young son Arthur, hidden away, how to be the once and future king. At the end of his time, Merlin fell giddily in love with a woman who loved him for what he knew and what he was, but perhaps not who he was. He made a young man’s mistake, chasing after beauty and things on the surface after a lifetime of being a visionary of the depths.

His sense of time was different from the rest of the world and yet his job as spiritual, magical, moral and even athletic coach to young Arthur was to teach the king the importance of seizing a moment in time. Sometimes, like Arthur, we have one chance to do the right thing.

In the legend of Arthur, the once and future king, Arthur dies. Or does he? He is taken to the misty Isle of Avalon apparently mortally wounded. He tried to show the local “kings” that working together was more beneficial than fighting each other. By giving those in local power an equal place at his round table, he indicated to them that he would exercise no positional power over them. By granting them dignity, respect, affirmation, acceptance and their own voices, and by appealing to their sense of honor, he allowed them to believe with him that Right Makes Might.

Yet, also in the legend, old mistakes, however brief or blameless, came back to haunt Arthur. Merlin tried to help, but by then he was in his youthful indiscretion, no longer the wise old wizard who had changed young Arthur to a fish so he could learn to swim or to a bird so that he might fly. The wheel of time had turned and it was a time of change.

Arthur was taken, wounded, to Avalon. Merlin was frozen in a cave. An important theme, no matter which version of the Arthur story you like, is that once there was a time when the imperfect world of human beings actually worked. It worked until it didn’t. Another theme is that Arthur will return. The other thought, although it is seldom mentioned, is that Merlin is likely to return too. Maybe we'll get a second chance.

From the way our world works now, sometimes I think we could both of them. A returning hero with his wise counselor-magician, both cured of their human vulnerabilities, would be a nice change of pace. If only it were so easy.

Dealing with change is never easy. And yet, that wheel is always moving. There are some days when I hate all surprises, even good ones. But the Wheel of Fortune refers to larger changes in our lives, not the little surprises.

The planet Saturn is entering Scorpio again. Saturn’s path goes in 29 year cycles. Think of your birthday each year as your “solar return.” The Sun returns to approximately the spot where it was the day you were born. Of course, this movement is relative and the earth spins and goes around the sun and not the other way around. But in an astrological sense, the sun comes back to you, your spot, each year. Each of the planets—yes, I feel sorry for Pluto because he got demoted—takes its own amount of time to pass through the Zodiac. The Moon moves fastest, then Mercury, etc. Instead of a year, like the Sun, Saturn takes 29 years.

Not to give away too much information for you arithmetically inclined, but I’m approaching my Saturn return. It makes me thoughtful. In my chart, Saturn isn’t particularly a bad thing. It says that older people have been kind to me (true) and while I may not have had as much sponsorship or mentoring as I wanted, it has made me used to living without supervision. Well, being fairly self-reliant has worked for me in many ways, although I clearly admit to loving being spoiled by The Hubs!

When the horoscopes say that I may find myself without some of the support structures I’ve been used to, that’s a characteristic of Saturn in Scorpio. So, in looking at the events in my life that happened when I was born and when I was 29, I try to get an idea what my Saturn return has in store for me.

For instance, I was “accidentally” born at home. I was a couple of weeks early. Dad had flown to California for his Pentagon job, something to do with the Air Force and housing and bases and such. My brother was at the babysitter’s and Mom was alone in our home in the D.C. metro area. Apparently things happened very quickly and in spite of the benefits of civilization and modern medicine, Mom and I had our first mother-daughter do-it-yourself project together. Mom never let Dad forget it either. When I think about it, I’m pretty glad I played the role of the baby in this drama. The other roles were a lot tougher.

“Did you pick me up by my feet and spank me?” I asked, thinking of Butterfly McQueen in Gone With The Wind. No, I did my own little throat-clearing and breathed on my own. So many things could have gone wrong. Better to be lucky than good, The Hubs says.

When I was 29, my mother died. She was 42 when I was born and had lived my entire childhood in terror of dying before I was officially out of the nest. Once I did leave the nest, she was really upset that I had. No, REALLY upset. But since her illness was long and awful, we had had plenty of time to talk, just never enough time. She was in the hospital with no special measures requested and we went to see her. That time, that last moment when we talked, that was like no other. She knew I would be forever unsupervised now and we finally agreed I would probably be OK. I didn’t care about that then. I just wanted to talk to her and have her talk to me. We let each other go.

Now, at my second Saturn return approaching, comically coincidental with the end of the Mayan Calendar, I learned today that my boss was let go. His position was eliminated in that awful “nothing personal” thing companies do when they say thank-you and good-bye. He and I had had a rocky start to our relationship with vastly different approaches to management. He was what many call a micro-manager which so many talented, intelligent workers despise as an insult to all that they are. Saturn is the School of Hard Knocks, the Hard Lesson, Tough Love. When an earlier organizational change had me reporting to him, I took it as an opportunity to learn how to let go of the ego of being a talented, intelligent worker and just concentrate on doing a good job, learning new things, being kind and trying to bring sanity to the workplace. We ended up working well together.

More than the loss of my boss, my vice president made a huge decision to move to a different company so he could spend more time with his family. It’s likely that more changes are coming.

I can bark at this wheel turning, this Wheel of Fortune with its ups and downs, like my first husband’s family dog who chased Volkswagens on their street. BeBe chased until one day she caught one! She rolled around the wheel well while we all screamed in horror. Just that fast she was spat out behind the bug, running around in circles and still barking, completely unhurt. But BeBe never chased cars again.

The wheel of change is going to happen whether I “bark” or not. It’s going to be easier if I adjust quickly, without anger or fear, and adapt to the new circumstances. Of course, it will be just like two Saturns ago. Just take a breath.

Best wishes.

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