today’s horoscope

January 26, Leo: The stars are on your side today!  Don’t be afraid to try something new, because good things are going to come your way.

You know the feeling – you don’t put stock in horoscopes as a matter of course, you don’t even read them.  But your superstitious co-worker left them out on the break-room table, and you looked for no reason in particular, and you forgot.  Five hours later, you step outside into the most beautiful evening you’ve ever seen, and the sky is a mixture of blues and pinks, or a bird is sending his call into the air, not waiting for a response, or someone walks by with their toddler and she’s wearing one of those knit hats with the ears, or an old man smiles at you and it hits you like a ton of bricks – today is your day.  Lady luck is with you and there’s a world of possibilities in front of you.  You let it wash over you, fill you up, until it feels like every organ in your body is glowing and you have to do something with them or you’re going to burst.


You stop to think of somewhere to go, some undiscovered country to discover, and the realization that your mind is a blank washes away the euphoria that owned you a second ago.  You know the when: now.  But the who, what, where, remain unanswered, so before you lose the energy, before you can’t smell the freshness in the air, before your fingers stop tingling, you call the only person you can think of and try her for ideas.  She answers, mouth full of microwaved pesto, and laughs when you tell her what you need.  Your horoscope? Are you going all new-agey on me?  Hey, will I see you tomorrow at the book club?


Your hope deflates and withers, you can feel it draining out of you, the sky loses its magic and looks like any other sky, the toddler drops her candy and starts to wail when her mother yanks her by the hand to go home, the old man argues with a businessman that didn’t bother to hold open the door.  The world is suddenly mocking your elation, and you feel like a fool.  Your life is a joke.  What kind of person has to call someone to ask for suggestions for something new to do?  Are the tracks you’ve worn in your life so deep that there’s no way to derail?  And instead of exploring a new frontier and leaping into unknown waters, you realize that what you’re doing now is what you’ll be doing forever, suddenly life doesn’t seem so long.  Your future is visible and finite and it’s flat and colorless, like the sound of a muffled bell.  In the movies, people accidentally go to seminars that force them to change against their will, or their long-lost thrill-seeking cousin shows up in town and drags them to a rave and makes them an accomplice to petty theft, and these things free them from the tedium of their life.  But you don’t have any cousins and you know that self-help conferences are money pits that feed off of the persistent, misguided belief of the quick fix.  You’re smarter than that, but your smarts can’t inspire you, they can’t generate art or create vision or make the world magical when it’s not.  All of your critical thinking skills metamorphose into a blunt instrument, and trying to reason your way out of this is like carving a flute with an axe.


You go home to your apartment but now even your daily routine, in harsh contrast to those three minutes this afternoon, is woefully inadequate.  As you fry potstickers for dinner, you realize that you park at the back of the parking lot when you get groceries because it takes up more time in your day.


When you were in school, life had structure, and you mistook that structure for meaning.  You almost laugh at yourself for having been so naive, but what else can you do when you’re 22?  Your laughter is a bitter disguise for the fact that you wish you could be like that again.


In bed, you stare at the ceiling, still trying to fashion fine instruments with a lumberjack’s tool.  What other choice do you have?  All the advice you’ve heard over the years seems insipid when faced with the reality of the problem, like all advice does.  Yes, this has to be a silent battle, for your ken only; not friends, not family, not a counselor, no one.  If the glow dies when it touches things, don’t let it touch anything, keep it inside and fan it quietly while the world bustles in ignorance.  To keep it alive so it can help you live, you keep it secret.  Then, the one thing that drives you is the one thing that you can’t share with anyone, that you can’t explain, can’t analyze, can’t consider or measure or control – your lifeblood, your impetus, is too dynamic, variable, complex and incorporeal to describe with language, even to yourself.  It comes between you and everything, an unreliable but essential psychic furnace.


You know the feeling – that was the day you learned what it means to be a grown-up.


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