Over the past couple of years, it’s become harder for me to write these essays. Partly, it’s because I’ve been writing them for so long that it’s harder to find something fresh to say.
But it’s a little more complicated than that. I look back into my archives and see that I used to put so much of myself in these little stories, so much emotion. Lately, not a lot of that tenderness finds its way into my writing. On my morning walk today, thinking about the Scorpio New Moon, I think I figured out why.
It’s because I haven’t been completely honest with you.
The truth is, I still have a rich emotional life, but over time the emotions became the kind I’d rather not think about too much, let alone share. It began when Saturn transited Scorpio (Oct. 5, 2012 – Dec. 23, 2014; June 14 – Sep. 17, 2015) and the twelfth house of my birth chart.
I’ve always considered my Scorpio twelfth house to be a creative, emotional wellspring I could tap into whenever I needed inspiration. There were always sadness and fear in there, but they were the fears of a young woman—sexy fears, just challenging enough to inspire creativity and encourage personal growth.
But Saturn’s transit through Scorpio opened the door to new and wholly unattractive fears. For the first time, my completely unearned good health failed me. The lives of people close to me began to unravel. I felt the sharp disappointment of a career that is not as successful as I’d like, and personal growth that has slowed considerably.
I began to see myself as an older person. Suddenly, most of the happy milestones of marriage, new houses, career success, and graduations were happening to other, younger people. I don’t begrudge them those joys; it’s just disorienting to suddenly be past the age when they made up the landscape of my own life.
Once, there was so much road ahead of me that I could afford to make some wrong turns along the way. It doesn’t feel that way now. Like a mountain that was once a distant speck on the horizon and is now coming into view, I can see that there is an end point to this journey. The closer I get to it, the faster the car seems to be going, as though I’ve been away too long and just want to get home already.
I’m in my middle fifties now, looking ahead at an old age that frightens me a bit. Old age is a foreign country to me. Neither of my parents lived very long. I’ve already passed my dad’s longevity by a decade. If I die at the age my mother did, I’ve got only nine years left. I know that some people have a good old age; my neighbor Mildred did – healthy, sharp, and living on her own until she got lung cancer and died at home a couple of months later, at the age of 97.
But I hold her story as a comforting talisman, because that’s not the way old age looks for most people. I’m watching friends struggle to care for their aging parents, and they face daunting challenges. Few of us, it seems, live out our final days in a safe neighborhood, in our own homes, in pretty good health, with enough money to live comfortably, and with loving children and affectionate young neighbors to share our lives.
Some of that falls to luck – good genes, supportive parents. Some of it is the result of choices we’ve made. And a huge part of it is just plain bravery and grit, and I guess none of us knows how much of it we have until we need it.
At this Scorpio New Moon, the days are short and the shadows are long. The flat, autumn light is less forgiving, and if we look in the mirror, we see every imperfection. The nights are longer, and in the dark it’s somehow easier to locate our faults and weaknesses, fear and grief. But it’s a little harder to share them, because that means admitting them to ourselves first.
I don’t think we change as we age. I think we just become more comfortable being who we’ve always been. We don’t feel the need to be false—more cheerful, more accommodating than we feel—in order to make others more comfortable around us. We become our Scorpionic selves, stripped of artifice and the comforting fictions of youth.
The Scorpio journey is about stripping off layers, year after year, and getting to know the essence of who we are. Because we may not be able to count on good genes or good luck, and some bad decisions can’t be undone. We may lose loved ones. We will probably lose some of our health. But we never lose the person we are underneath our clothes, underneath our skin. In the end, maybe that’s enough to keep us brave.
© 2015 April Elliott Kent