Friday, July 10, 2009

Horoscopes - What the hell?

Some people live their lives one day at a time; meeting challenges head on and braving all that life throws at them with little knowledge of what might come next. For others, living in this day-by-day manner is far too unpredictable to be enjoyable, and to help them deal with the unpredictable nature of life they seek guidance from a long-standing and widely accepted form of divination; astrology.

I know that I said astrology was widely accepted, but really I should probably have used the term ‘acknowledged’, because though it is true that many people look to the stars and planets for some guidance in their lives, I think it’s safe to say that a great majority of people look no further than the weather channel for their daily preparations.

Personally, I do have a daily horoscope on my homepage, but I certainly don’t live by it. It’s nice to check once in a while just to get that eerie feeling like you’re not totally alone in the world, but beyond these sorts of tenuous, overly simplified and ambiguous personal linkages, I don’t find any real substance in them.

I really don’t see (and this may be my ignorance talking) how celestial patterns relating to your time and place of birth can be a prediction for how your life is going to move forward. I believe quite firmly that we make our own choices and that life provides for those who provide for themselves. In other words, life is what you make of it, you catch more flies with honey than shit, and what goes around comes around. Sure, these are quite colloquial and cliché turns of phrase, but really, how better to sum up my feelings that things will go well for you if you try hard, be kind and generous, and treat others like you’d want to be treated. Pretty standard stuff, though it seems hard for people to take a step back and look objectively at how their own actions bring about the actions of others. If more people practiced what so many preach, there’d be way more generosity, an abundance of smiles, and less of a need for pre-packaged quasi-clairvoyance delivered to your homepage. Another issue I have with horoscopes is their boldness. Granted, if they were any more whimsical and open-ended I probably would have a lot more negative commentary, but I get annoyed when I read a horoscope that says, “Money is on your mind, but today you should focus on your creativity and leave your finances for another day.” So wait… cheeky Taurus is inching near to my 8th house of cards, so I should paint a still life rather than balance the books? Hmm… I can just imagine creditors everywhere seeing the same thing and ramping up the calls to all those oblivious Sagittarians out there with paint brushes in hand.

Even though I do feel quite skeptical about the whole idea of astrology, and my recent ‘research’ into into the field has left me no more of a convert, I still can’t discount it completely. If you think it’s creepy when it’s Friday and your horoscope says, “after today, you’ll feel a great weight has been lifted off your shoulders!” well then, I’m sorry for one, but secondly, I can tell you a story about the one person who, despite my skepticism, is keeping me unsure of what to believe.

A few years ago as a summer job, I worked as a tree planter for A&M Reforestation in Northern Ontario. It was a grueling 3 month test of character, physical endurance, and one’s ability to dispel all pre-conceived notions of what ‘clean’ actually is. Given that the work itself was the most repetitive and at times dismal things you could think of doing, it was the people that made the experience interesting. On one of our few days off we were bunking in a motel in a small northern town, and one evening I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for the gang to get ready to head out for dinner. I was talking with a girl named Kristy, and she and I had only really ever talked cordially about this and that, joked about how many bug bites per square inch we had, and other sorts of small talk. As I sat in the parking lot, she came up to me, and in a very calm and assured tone she asked,
“You were born on November 26th weren’t you?” At first my only response was a blank stare, partly because I wasn’t expecting that sort of a question, but mostly because she was only 1 day off!
“Uhhhhh… no, the 27th actually,” I replied. “Oh, yeah, that makes more sense,” she said.
More blank staring and an dropped jaw followed that line, and I just had to know more. She went on to tell me some of the most intimate truths about who I was, what I thought about the world, about people, things I was more or less still trying to figure out for myself! I was utterly shocked to hear such a deep sounding of who I was, and couldn’t believe that she could rhyme off such a laundry list of attributes without really knowing me at all. Over the course of our conversation she told me about her interest in astrology and how it had really become a huge part of her life. It allowed her to know and be comfortable with her herself, and to learn to be more in tune with others as well. I told her I thought she was a bit of a cheater though because I wear my heart on my sleeve, and that you didn’t have to be a psychic to know how I was feeling.

That being said, it was amazing for me to hear so much about myself from someone I barely knew, and the accuracy was enough to push my opinion of astrology into a shady middle ground; not knowing what to believe and what to discount.

I’d love to hear from Kristy again and see where the stars have led her. Maybe she’s still up in White River Ontario, planting trees and telling people what’s up. Or maybe she works for, consulting astro-charts and creeping people out with her uncanny abilities. Regardless, there’s something to be said for a daily outside perspective on your life’s direction because in the end, I sort of think that whether or not your horoscopes are right is up to you anyway.

What do you think?