Today is my birthday, I‘m 46 years old. I think. Wait– I have to count 1966, 76… yep 46. I do this every year because on my 33rd birthday I thought I was 34 and on my 34th birthday I told a friend I was 35 and she said, No you’re not, you’re 34, and she was right! That was the best birthday present ever; she gave me a whole year.
Something I appreciate about my birthday is that it falls right in the middle of the year, so I feel I have my very own New Year, and if there are things that I wanted to accomplish that year, and as is often the case, not yet begun, I have my own New Year and 6 months left to get them done. This is the kind of reasoning that emerges from a Cancer- Gemini cusp mind. You may not be followers of astrology (nor am I in an organized manner), so I will explain that the Gemini symbol are the twins, and they are renowned for vacillating characters. The Cancer symbol is a crab, and they are well known for their moodiness, so I like to think of myself as the triplets, which is why the Walt Whitman quote,
“Contradict myself? Yes then, I contradict myself, I contain multitudes,” is my motto.
I subscribe to Camilla Paglia’s opinion of astrology,
the predictive part (of astrology) is less important than its psychology, which three thousand years of continuous practice have given a phenomenal subtly…Judging astrology by those vague sun-sign columns in the daily paper is like judging Christianity by a smudged shop window of black velvet DayGlo® paintings of the Good Shepard. The idea the stars literally influence men (by a falling fluid, an influenza) is plainly untenable. But that the movements of the constellations are a clock by which earthly changes can be measured is less easy to dismiss. I subscribe to what Jung calls synchronicity. Things happen in complex patterns of apparent coincidence, noticed by the keen eyes of the artist… People who dismiss astrology do so out of ignorance or rationalism. Rationalists have their place, but their limited assumptions must be kept out of the arts. Interpretation of poem, dream or person requires intuition and divination, not science.”
This quote is from Paglia’s book, Sexual Personae. I consider it a modern classic. I encourage anyone that is interested in art history, culture, and approaching life in a symbolically complex manner, read it. She is brilliant, subversive, shocking and hilarious.
There is a deep strain of rationalism in the culture I grew up in, (Midwestern American culture) and though I am proud to be Iowan I have been reborn living in a culture that embraces the paranormal, witchcraft, and whose official religion is rife with pagan imagery and practices. For example; I see the intense reverence shown individual saints as a form of polytheism. Mexican culture’s lack of adherence to the rational honed my artist’s eye, and provided a fertile venue for my intuitive nature to thrive.
This birthday as I contemplate my new year I realize that since I have been in Mexico (6 years) I have achieved 3 life goals I’d had for years and was unable to accomplish in the US. I read 52 books in one year, I have a horse, and I have written a book. But most importantly, I have experienced a coalescence of my personal philosophy that I feel would have been very difficult to attain within the tumult of Chicago’s cityscape. This level of productivity is remarkable to me considering all of the other difficult and time consuming things that I have done since I moved here. It makes me wonder, why was I not able to accomplish these things in the U.S.? I believe it is because I have been released from the grip of the necessity of rationalism that drives a worker bee, as I was, in my own country.
Curiously, it seems both Felipe and my underlying reason (though there were many) for leaving the U.S. was the same, to extricate ourselves from a culture we felt was life consuming, as opposed to life affirming. With all of its comforts and convenience, I felt that my life was slipping away, without really having lived it. There was always work to be done, bills to be paid and entertainments to enjoy/inure me when I was tired out from meeting the daily requirements to survive. Some may consider it a lack of initiative that I was not able to create the life I wanted there; I accept it may be true. But I know that I am not alone in this feeling either, and so perhaps there is validity in numbers.
For my Birthday this year, I would like to thank Mexico for its people, who never tell me I need to be more realistic, and its culture that allows me the time to create a life I feel is intensely lived.