Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Except that there's this career thing...

If you have been working toward a promotion or a raise, things might finally start to loosen up on the job front now that Mars is again pushing forward in your 10th House of Career. But don't expect too much too fast or you will be disappointed. Your rewards could fall short of your desires, but it may take a few more weeks until you see the full results from your efforts.

And I have been, and oh boy does it help that the stars are aligned to make that a bit less painful and arduous...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today and Every Day. Amen.

Perhaps you have reached a phase in your life when work starts to lose its prominence. Of course, you must be dutiful enough to meet your responsibilities or everything could fall apart. But in order to do something extraordinary, you might have to push your own personal envelope and take a risk. Talk about your fears now, for it will be harder to deal with them later.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Next Two Years

January 2008, here's what the stars have in store for me:

You are in a transition in which you are fundamentally coming to terms with yourself. That change is about getting relief from nervousness and instability, and calling your life into focus. It is about having the confidence and substance to stand up to the world, which is so rare to find. Finally, this transit is about finding the ability to go deeper into yourself, your ideas and your sense of existence. These things have life on more than the level of thought or concept. Ideas are powerful, and you have reached a point of maturity that you have been working toward for a long time.

To the extent that you are fundamentally passive, Saturn will compel you to take an active role in your life and in your relationships. To the extent that you understand that authority is something we embody or we don't grow, you will be granted enormous assistance in taking on your true role in the world. In doing so, we take away the authority that others seem to hold over us, whoever they may be.

In ordering our lives, we liberate the energy we need to persist in our creative work and our service to the world. You are, by nature, a sober and sensible individual. You understand that life is an opportunity and a profound responsibility, only magnified by our commitments to others.

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Father with Cigarette Twelve Years Before the Nazis Could Break His Heart -- Philip Levine

I remember the room in which he held
a kitchen match and with his thumbnail
commanded it to flame: a brown sofa,
two easy chairs, one covered with flowers,
a black piano no one ever played half
covered by a long-fringed ornamental scarf
Ray Estrada brought back from Mexico
in 1931. How new the world is, you say.
In that room someone is speaking about money,
asking why it matters, and my father exhales
the blue smoke, and says a million dollars
even in large bills would be impossible.
He's telling me because, I see now, I'm
the one who asked, for I dream of money,
always coins and bills that run through my hands,
money I find in the corners of unknown rooms
or in metal boxes I dig up in the backyard
flower beds of houses I've never seen.
My father rises now and goes to the closet.
It's as though someone were directing a play
and my father's part called for him to stand
so that the audience, which must be you,
could see him in white shirt, dark trousers,
held up by suspenders, a sign of the times,
and conclude he is taller than his son
will ever be, and as he dips into his jacket,
you'll know his role calls for him to exit
by the front door, leaving something
unfinished, the closet light still on,
the cigarette still burning dangerously,
a Yiddish paper folded to the right place
so that a photograph of Hindenburg
in full military regalia swims up
to you out of all the details we lived.
I remember the way the match flared
blue and yellow in the deepening light
of a cool afternoon in early September,
and the sound, part iron, part animal
part music, as the air rushed toward it
out of my mouth, and his intake of breath
through the Lucky Strike, and the smoke
hanging on after the door closed and the play
ran out of acts and actors, and the audience --
which must be you -- grew tired of these lives
that finally came to nothing or no more
than the furniture and the cotton drapes
left open so the darkening sky can seem
to have the last word, with half a moon
and a showering of fake stars to say what
the stars always say about the ordinary.
Oh, you're still here, 60 years later,
you wonder what became of us, why
someone put it in a book, and left
the book open to a page no one reads.
Everything tells you he never came back,
though he did before he didn't, everything
suggests it was the year Hitler came
to power, the year my grandmother learned
to read English novels and fell in love
with David Copperfield and Oliver Twist
which she read to me seated on a stool
beside my bed until I fell asleep.
Everything tells you this is a preface
to something important, the Second World War,
the news that leaked back from Poland
that the villages were gone. The truth is --
if there is a truth -- I remember the room,
I remember the flame, the blue smoke,
how bright and slippery were the secret coins,
how David Copperfield doubted his own name,
how sweet the stars seemed, peeping and blinking,
how close the moon, how utterly silent the piano.

-- from The Simple Truth

My Life Coming to Get Me

Been pretty unhappy w/ work for a while now - up and down, certainly, but more often down than up.

Been vaguely dissatisfied with the way I've been living my life, too -- too much sitting around and not enough digging deep. I've told myself I'm still resting up after 20+ years in school and working, running myself ragged and so busy as to be blind to most everything else.

Took the time to attend a meditation retreat, with Rilke by my side and on my mind. What rung through me clearly is his admonition from Sonnets to Orpheus:

"You must change your life."

And this one --

I am too alone in the world, but not alone enough to make each hour holy.
I am small in the world, but not small enough to simply be like a thing -- just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones—
or alone.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.

I would describe myself like a landscape I’ve studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I’m coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtimes;

like my mother’s face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.

- From Rilke’s Book Of Hours translated by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy

So of course, the universe opened up, testing me with new opportunities, throwing my current life into bas relief, forcing me to question just how dissatisfied I am with it, and which parts I wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't throw away.

There are things I want more of --
  • Money to save and not worry about each purchase and unexpected expenses/emergencies
  • Time to meditate, to read, to follow my interest & development
  • Focus to study and pass my AICP exam for planning, which opens the door to project management and career advancement
  • Teaching, because it rockets me to understanding and challenges me to question everything -- and write about it
  • Inspiration -- to go where my life takes me, joyfully, fully, present
  • Kids
And so, what path will lead me toward these things, and which path will make it harder, or impossible? Which lets me ride the wave, and which leaves me paddling on a calm ocean, trying to surf?

It's a blessing to be presented with this moment to make choices. That is clear to me. And even the opportunity to do nothing, change nothing, except my attitude and gratitude at what I already have, is valuable for me now.


It's such a huge opportunity to change so much that it's hard not to feel fate's hand.

I must listen and calm myself in order to hear clearly -- both what the universe whispers or shouts to me and what my own instinct says.

What's the biggest move I can handle that would make Rilke proud? Isn't it interesting that the more you allow for the possibility of fate, the more you feel the press of its hand?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rilke's Book of Hours -- Selections from Barrows & Macy Translation

God, give us each our own death,
the dying that proceeds
from each of our lives:

the way we loved,
the meanings we made,
our need.


You who know, and whose vast knowing
is born of poverty, abundance of poverty --

make it so the poor are no longer
despised and thrown away.

Look at them standing about --
like wildflowers, which have nowhere else to grow.


I thank you, deep power
that works me ever more lightly in ways I can't make out.
The day's labor grows simple now,
and like a holy face
held in my dark hands.


You too will find your strength.
We who must live in this time
cannot imagine how strong you will become --
how strange, how surprising,
yet familiar as yesterday.

We will sense you
like a fragrance from a nearby garden
and watch you move through our days
like a shaft of sunlight in a sickroom.

We will not be herded into churches,
for you are not made by the crowd,
you who meet us in our solitude.

We are cradled close in your hands --
and lavishly flung forth.