On being ... written in the stars

By Ingrid Sapona

As confessions go, I suppose I shouldn’t be too embarrassed about this -- but I kind of am. Anyway, here goes: I read my horoscope every day. (Was that a collective sigh of relief I just heard from my family? Come on -- you didn’t think I was going to say anything too dicey, did you?)

Actually, since I get two newspapers, I read more than one horoscope. (OK, if you must know, I read three: I also read one on-line.) I’m an Aquarian. I suppose those readers who are “into” horoscopes might have figured that out by now -- maybe the fact I regularly read them is a dead giveaway, or maybe the fact that it embarrasses me to admit it is the give away. Who knows…

The funny thing is, I really don’t know much about astrology. I don’t know what particular traits are Aquarian, nor do I know anything about traits typical of other signs. Details like that just don’t seem to stick with me.

I’ve learned to keep my horoscope-reading habit largely to myself because there’s nothing worse (conversation-wise) than having some astrology buff ask for details about your chart. My lack of knowledge quickly reveals that I’m a mere dabbler and the conversation ends with me somehow feeling like an exposed imposter. (If you’ve never had this kind of conversation about astrology, perhaps you’ve had it about the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator test. More than once I’ve (mistakenly) admitted to having taken it. Invariably, the person asking is a Myers-Briggs devotee. Here’s how the conversation always seems to go: “I’m an E-N-F-I, which is really interesting because my boss is an I-F-T-N and my spouse is an I-T-J-P – can you imagine? So, what are you?” To which I usually respond: “I’m a B-E-A-T-S M-E.” That quickly ends that conversation!) Maybe being unable to retain certain kinds of details is an Aquarian trait. Who knows…

Anyway, just because I (religiously) read my horoscope doesn’t mean I’m into astrology or that I feel guided by the stars. Indeed, I’ve never once consciously altered my behaviour for the day based on what my horoscope says. For example, I’ve never stayed home because a horoscope said it was a bad day for Aquarians to travel. And no one can ever say I bought a lottery ticket simply because my horoscope said it was going to be a lucky day. (I’m sure I would have bought the ticket regardless!)

I’ve never really thought too much about why I read my horoscope, until I read mine this morning. Here’s what Sally Brompton wrote in the Globe & Mail today:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 21-Feb.19): If you are devoting ever greater amounts of time and energy to a task without it getting you anywhere you might like to consider the possibility that you are working on the wrong thing. Think about it this weekend and, if you decide it is no longer worth the effort, junk it and move on to something else.

On reading it, I immediately thought about On being… Could On being … be the task that might be “the wrong thing” for me? While I’m not devoting ever greater amounts of time and energy it (I still only publish it on the 15th and 30th), I’ve had the occasional conversation with well-meaning folks who wonder why I keep at it, given that nothing seems to be happening in terms of it being picked up by a newspaper or magazine (which is my dream for the column). Ugh. What a thought! The task referred to can’t be the column. And yet, given that I’d be writing one today, it was certainly something I’d be thinking about this weekend (as mentioned in the horoscope).

After more than a few minutes soul-searching about what On being… means to me, why I write it, and whether it’s worth the effort, it dawned on me what I like about reading horoscopes. I like them because my subconscious automatically tries to connect them to something concrete in my life. I know, they’re so general they could apply to pretty much anyone and any thing. And they’re so vague there’s always lots of room to interpret them a dozen different ways. And yet, it’s precisely their vagueness and general nature that lets you bring to them your own concerns or questions.

I use my horoscope as a little prompt to think about some aspect of my life that comes to mind as I’m reading the horoscope’s ever-so-vague admonition. I guess they’re just an interesting way of becoming conscious of things that are floating around in my head, just below the surface.

After letting that little epiphany settle in, I looked up my horoscope in the other paper. Here’s what Phil Booth in the Toronto Star said for today:

AQUARIUS: Don’t let someone’s unhelpful comments weaken your resolve. Thing are moving, changing and looking most promising. There is a good chance of reaching some long-abandoned goals. The stars are steering you onto the best path.

Whew! See… I just know something good will happen with On being… if I just keep at it.

© 2007 Ingrid Sapona