My horoscope today told me: ‘it may feel strange to feel sad or melancholic since you’re so light hearted by nature …’ Really ?
Know thyself the Greek oracle said… but that’s easier said than done…. they also said – or maybe it was just Socrates, who said that the inner and the outer man should be one. Again, easier said than done… and maybe not for the faint-hearted.
I always found that the enjoyment of palmistry, astrology, even tarot cards, had less to do with curiosity about the future and more to do with curiosity about that unknown quantity – me. I pursued astrology for years driven by hope for better things – the Gemini sign which was mine infuriated me.
Yes, I hoped I really was adaptable, versatile, intellectual, witty and logical, busy, lively, talkative and amusing, having a flair for writing and language, youthful and up to date in outlook an appearance.
But no, I was not prepared to accept that I was changeable, restless, cunning, inquisitive, inconsistent and two-faced, as some perceptive people in the past, perceiving that I am Gemini, have charged. Nor am I prepared to admit that I’m unable to control my nervous energy – and I refuse to answer to being called superficial and a gossip.
Yes, I am delighted to agree that I’m a wonderful parent whose own wide interests will foster the waking interests of my children ( and grandchildren now ) but no, I am not prepared to concede that I’m a flirt and emotionally superficial.
My old copy of Webster’s Dictionary gave me this information, believe it or not, so I felt considerably mollified when I went to a ‘real’ astrologer, whatever that may mean, and he informed me I also had a streak of Pisces, hence my ready tears – Aquarius and Sagittarius. So when I’m accused of all the negative Gemini traits I now claim dispensation by latching onto the positive aspects of Pisces, Aquarius and Sagittarius.
So I thought I’d got myself neatly labelled and was getting to know myself, until I stumbled on a book called ‘Colour in your world’ and found a whole new world of code signs with which to read the personality.
Colour is one of my passions so I was sure to discover a bit more psychological know- how I thought. We began with red… yes, I liked to flatter myself that I was ‘vital and outward’, a person with an appetite to live life fully… yes, I hoped, I was integrated and oriented which the book told me meant I am impulsive and quick to release my feelings and emotions. I ignored the bit about manic depressives liking red… and anyway only my dressing gown, a coat and a handful of jumpers, and underwear is red… and my kitchen was painted red only once.
So I moved on to orange. I had one house where just the hall and the bathroom and bedroom were orange – or pumpkin as I liked to call it… the bedroom toned down with blue. This revealed that we oranges were generally good-natured, likeable, sociable, have an easy smile and – no I don’t have a remarkable talent for small talk, it’s one of my fiercest hates.
Yes, I can accept if I am an orange, that I care profoundly for people and that they will care for me in return … if only the world was peopled with oranges… but hell no, I don’t ‘lack grand passion and may never marry’ – so far I’ve married twice … no – orange is out… definitely not an orange. So I moved on to the next colour…
Yellow goes with high-mindedness… ah yes, that must be me – I’ve always had yellow rooms… yes, I’m sure I have a superior mind and enjoy using it… Oh blow Van Gogh, who loved yellow and was morbid and deeply disturbed. Yellow cannot possibly be me.
The one colour I could say definitely was not me was green, I hate parties, my social standing and financial position aren’t important, and I am rarely prudent. No, there is not even a soupcon of green in this house.
By the time I’d worked through blue-green, blue, purple, brown, white , grey, black and pink I was more muddled than ever, and farther off knowing myself that I was in the beginning.
But then, back in the day, I had a break-through. It was an innocent enough sounding book called ‘Sleep positions’, the night language of the body. I read it at one sitting – or lying, I should say, as I waited for my significant other to come home later that night.
By the time he had arrived I had worked out what my present sleep position revealed, what my recent sleep position revealed, and what my childhood sleep position was saying. I learned what my other half was trying to tell me by the way he slept, and I had reviewed our relationship and assessed the chances of working our way through to old age on the strength of a chapter called: ‘ sleep love and sleep hate’.
I expounded the early warning signs and sleep-position analysis, and when asked how I had slept the next morning, replied with an analysis of our sleep positions that night and how upset I now felt by his sleep position. As the nights went by and I continued to review our sleep positions every morning the poor man began to fear for the stability of the relationship too.
“It’s all that expletive- deleted book,” he exploded one morning. It’s a funny thing – he had endured dissertations on the Coburg and Hohenzollern family trees spread across the bed, explanations of the Arian heresy and the origin of the Gospel of St Mark, even put up with me reading TS Eliot aloud, but he just couldn’t seem to handle sleep analysis.
Ah well, as TS Eliot once wrote, ‘humankind cannot take too much reality.’ I have long since given up worrying about other people’s sleep positions and begun puzzling over mine. My most recent change of position seems to be telling me that I am trying to retain control over my life.
That would be right… and since those long-ago days of astrology and palmistry, colour and sleep positions, the Enneagram, a product of Sufi and Gurdjieff thinking, as well as other forms of character analysis, has given me many happy hours of cogitation– am I a tragic romantic or a perfectionist or a boss or a devil’s advocate, and why those near and dear to me respond the way they do, and whether I cope with aggression or depression… or tears! The riddles of character sometimes seem unsolvable – to me anyway.
In my beginning is my end, as TS Eliot also said, and Webster’s Dictionary has my interests at heart. It warns me that as a Gemini I am always doing more than one thing at a time, (isn’t it called multi-tasking these days?) and living on my nerves, and should be careful not to overstrain my sensitive and highly strung system which will break down under pressure. I think this must mean I should coddle myself – quite the nicest advice I’ve had for a long time…
So as I have long suspected, it is more helpful to read the dictionary than any other form of the printed word. None of this has given me any reliable clues to that Greek ideal of knowing myself, but maybe I won’t be able to stand too much reality either. Do I really want to know myself as well as everyone else does? ‘O would some power gie us the giftie to see ourselves as others see us’ … wrote Burns… but I think that’s taking a big risk, so perhaps not. Ignorance may be bliss after all.
Food for threadbare gourmets
I love dressings and marinades. This is a tasty little mixture that gives a bit of zing to a stir-fry, or a plain bowl of noodles, and is also a delicious marinade for chicken or fish, especially salmon. Just mix a quarter of a cup of sesame oil with an eighth of a cup of rice wine vinegar, one deseeded and chopped chilli, some garlic cloves to taste, and chopped ginger, a splash of fish sauce, a squeeze of lime, and some chopped coriander… (I often just use ground coriander and ground ginger) It’s a useful little standby.
Food for thought
I don’t want to get rid of poverty just to ensure that prosperity is maintained: I want to get rid of poverty because it is bad, it is wrong, it is immoral, it is un-ethical, it is un-Christian, it is unfair and it is unjust and it is everything that is bad. I mean involuntary poverty – where a man is told that his hands are not wanted, and his wife and his youngsters will be deprived of the necessary things for health.
Walter Nash, NZ Prime Minister, speaking in Philadelphia at the International Labour Conference in 1944