In tune with the times

Dear Friend and Reader:

The other day my friend Jenna came up from New Paltz to visit, wanting to talk about/figure out where her life was going. She’s feeling the energy of change in the air and wants to participate in the world. She doesn’t quite know what to do, but she has a lot of knowledge, many interests, good experience and a vision for the future. That she can’t make contact with her desire gave me a hint that something might be affecting a lot more people.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Though I’m someone whose missions and adventures tend to find me (I make the final choice whether to accept the mission, but it’s usually pretty compelling), I know there are many who struggle for direction and to make contact with their passion. When the times are moving fast and there is excitement in the air, it can be challenging if you feel like you’re missing something.

Even when someone is participating, there can be the sense of not really going the whole distance or being fully committed, while the excitement is building elsewhere. With that will come the desire to participate in the change and to ‘make a difference’, and lately this desire is being focused by some influential astrology that many people are feeling — and wondering about.

The sense that something is happening/you want to get involved is likely to accumulate as the Uranus-Pluto square builds over the next 16 months (and peaks through 2015). In these few years the world is going to move through many transitions; to be in step with this we must be in step with the energy of constant change, and of having few expectations. This will work culturally, and it will work individually. We can see evidence of it now — all the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, for example, and the protests in Wisconsin are some of the more obvious expressions. These are cultural changes, but they are also the changes of many individuals adding up to something much bigger than an individual experience.

There are others. As time goes on, the sweeping energy of change in our culture and many other places will become even more palpable, and influence everything from art to technology to ideas to politics to music. At the moment we’re in the full-throttle of an aspect called Jupiter square Pluto, which is stirring up deep passions and the impulse to take sides (which makes a lot of people nervous). This aspect is less about right or wrong and more about trying out an idea.

Also, in a little over a week, Uranus changes signs from Pisces (the last sign of the zodiac, where it’s been for 7+ years) into Aries (the first sign of the zodiac, where it will be for the next 7+ years). This is the Aries Point being energized by one of the most high-voltage planets, the one that’s full of surprises and that we can ride into the future like a bolt from the blue. As Uranus works its way into Aries, the Uranus-Pluto square (Aries to Capricorn) gathers energy.

There is a sense of imminent change, the desire for progress. You might experience that as a sense of injustice, but I propose that it’s more nourishing to stoke your sense of justice: your desire for the right thing happening. You might also be moved by the desire to contribute, create or participate. You may have a talent — let’s say you’re good with paper mach√© — and a protest movement emerges in your town and you decide it’s time to make big puppets. It might be that easy, and that much fun.

Photo by Eric Francis.

On the way to getting there, you may encounter your own reluctance. Your desire to take part may be in conflict with your sense that you just ‘cannot do so’, or that you’re ‘not ready’, you ‘don’t know enough’ or your contribution ‘won’t make a difference’.

It’s also true that participating takes time, often it takes money, and you have to allow your heart to move you to take a stand. The time and money are nothing when your heart moves you. The sense of joy about doing the right thing more than compensates and can offer the sense of discovering why you have resources to begin with. Still, till you get there, you can encounter a lot of reluctance. You’re lucky if you know it’s reluctance rather than paralysis.

Then there’s the sense that you might have to give up something else. Maybe you’ve just gotten your life to a comfortable or stable place and you like it that way. Getting involved in something new can turn that sense of a comfort zone on its ear.

Beneath that layer may be fear. You would be surprised who thinks the FBI will knock on their door if they help make a float for a peace march. This is a close-to-primal fear, connected to inquisitions and various other church and royal scams designed to rip off the people; many have paid a price for standing up to power. But given half a chance, your rational mind can sort that out from organizing a drum circle at a peace march.

The fear of reprisal is archetypal, but it’s not always what it seems. In addition to floating around the DNA of history (including the wiretaps of recent history to the witch burnings of Medieval times), there’s a lot here about standing up to our parents. Parents almost always lay a massive (and unnecessary) authority trip on their kids; our parents rarely dealt with their parents. Oppressive forces in society always create a parent-child dynamic, wherein the parent has all the power and the kid is merely subject to it. The moment a parent-child dynamic is invoked, that can push your buttons and stir up plenty of infantile anxiety — and it gets played out over and over again.

In order to shift the dynamic to some form of adult-adult, we must have the courage to stand up to the seeming authority that’s getting us down — which can provoke guilt in the person doing the standing up to the power. The guilt is part of the control drama that activism or creative response are designed to address — but it’s rarely called what it is. Here, we’re clearly in therapy territory — therapy really helps with this one, mainly as a way to build awareness. But you can go a long way toward working it out by participating in social change. When you get there you may discover a good few people working it out as well — more or less consciously.

I ran this past my friend who is a therapist and she replied, “The guilt thing is a tough one for many of us to crack. It can be so subtle in some ways — or it manifests indirectly — such that it can be difficult to identify at first. Very often in a therapy session, I’ll point out what I see as guilt and the person with whom I’m working is surprised… they’ve never thought about it before. And once it is identified, it can seem intractable; it takes consistent attention to break through it, ya know?”

I do know. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Fennely, used to tell me all the time that I had a guilty conscience. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I responded as if I did when something went wrong. Fortunately my sense of justice is stronger than my sense of ‘being good’. I kept at it. It took me quite a while to sort through the childhood conditions that had led me to that state of mind. Most kids are so constantly conditioned to be good and stay under control that there is hardly any fight left in them. It’s just a short jump from there to, “If I express my power, I’m going to get killed,” or “my life will be ruined.” I would say, if you’re telling yourself those kinds of things, check for a pulse, and notice whether you think the same thing if you go out for tacos.

As one who gets involved in issues, community movements and doing interesting stuff, I can describe some of my experiences of doing so. Sometimes it happens gradually over a period of months or years. Sometimes it happens literally overnight. Before I get involved, I am usually alert to the issues, looking at the connections, and I have a sense of where the smaller pieces of the puzzle fit the much bigger scenario. This alone is a significant shift in consciousness — and it requires a commitment. The commitment happens on two levels, I think: one is to awareness, the other is to action. Both have their own challenges, but it’s easier if you decide that what you notice is there to tell you something, and what you learn is there to give you a basis in choice.

Then one day you wake up and decide that it’s time to do what’s more fun. It’s time to stop worrying and loosen up. The feeling is not so much about ‘getting with it’ as it is getting with yourself.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

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