Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Realigning the Stars

Another birthday has come and gone. I like to use this time as an annual opportunity to take stock of my life, to look at where I've been and where I'm heading. This self examination rarely turns out well, particularly if I compare myself to others who share the same birthday as me, like Michelle Obama and Betty White. Let's see, first lady of the United States and comedic icon. And what do I have to show for myself? My major accomplishment in 2010 was finding a hat that didn't make me look like a total pinhead. Break out the accolades.

This year's reflection was even more traumatic than usual, considering a recent revelation that I might not be who I always thought I was.

I might not be a Capricorn.

Some astronomer in Minnesota broke the news last week that the Earth's orbit was blah, blah, blah and the constellations no longer line up with astrological signs.

I don't know about you, but I don't take astrology all that seriously, except when it comes to defining who I am as a human being. This is what it means to be a Capricorn: We set high goals, are ambitious and high achievers. We're committed, practical, grounded and disciplined. We plan ahead, you can count on us.

This is my tribe, these are my people. Sure, we may sound a little high strung and a tad dull, but we also make the rest of your lives a lot easier. You go on vacation, we've got the guidebook. You need something on Thursday, we get it to you on Tuesday. You say, "til death do us part," rest assured, we're not messing around with the mailman behind your back.

Now I'm supposed to be someone completely different?

I checked the dates associated with the new signs and crossed my fingers please, please, please, that I wouldn't wind up with the alleged 13th sign, Ophiuchus, which sounds like the wad of phlegm that collects in the back of your throat. Instead, I landed on Sagittarius.

Just like that, I'm no longer an introvert, I'm an extrovert. Apparently I also love to ride horses, which makes sense for half-man, half-horse centaurs. I'm an incurable optimist, always up for adventure.

In short, the anti-Patty.

How does one go from loathing crowds to loving them? From dependable to impetuous? From me to a complete alien?

Fortunately I didn't have to undergo a complete personality transplant. Astrologers immediately debunked the zodiac switcheroo as a load of hogwash. Phew. I can keep on being the same old inflexible perfectionist I've always been. I couldn't change even if I wanted to--my personality is written in the stars.

And yet.... I'd glimpsed the potential for something different as a Sagittarius. Setting aside their Pollyanna tendencies, they're not bad people. They also enjoy hiking and running. Hey, so do I. They seek knowledge and wisdom. Check. They enjoy travel and higher education (aka, travel of the mind). Check and check. I was starting to feel at home with these people too. They sounded kind of cool. They sounded like the kind of person I secretly want to be. Or maybe I already am?

I got to wondering, have I, all these years, been ignoring or tamping down aspects of my personality that didn't fit into my astrological box? What if, from day one, I'd been told that I saw the silver lining in things, that I lived in the moment, that I loved adventure? Would I see those traits in myself? Would I be that person?

In some alternate universe, I would totally go with the flow instead of trying to control each and every situation. I would act without thinking about consequences. I wouldn't care whether I made a success of my life or not. It was liberating to contemplate the possibilities of who I could be, if I didn't know who I already was.

I tried to explain all of this to my parents. "I would never in a million years put that much thought into this," my dad said. Funny, because he's a Taurus and we're totally supposed to be on the same page.


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