Like a lot of driven types, I move through the world a bit roughly. Whether along my career path or on a trip to the supermarket, I focus on the destination and pay scant attention to the journey itself. Down to the smallest gestures, my approach is instinctively direct and graceless. I’m hard on the physical world, breaking, tearing, staining, or chipping nearly everything I touch.
But I have a pet indulgence – spending hours browsing through design blogs and magazines. I enjoy a glimpse into the way others live, their clean, spare, modern spaces, or (especially) their colorful, artfully cluttered bohemian dwellings. I savor small, elegant touches that appear in unexpected places, the gestures of someone who is attentive to each tiny nook and responds to it creatively. There’s something graceful about them, the suggestion that such a person pays attention to each moment instead of rushing to finish line.
I’m seeking an elegant oasis in a world that feels like a pretty rough place. If you’re the kind of person who pushes yourself hard, relying on the off-gassing of harsh self-talk to propel you, it’s especially difficult to live in a world that mirrors this pitiless inner landscape. It’s a very human instinct to meet brutality with greater force, exponentially, until before you know it political candidates are all but coming to physical blows on a debate stage.
This morning, though, as I prepared to swing my legs over the side of the bed and throw myself into the day, I was stopped by a tiny whisper that I can only assume was the dawning influence of the upcoming Libra New Moon: “Go gently.” Instead of leaping to my feet and cursing my painful “morning back,” what if I stood slowly and gave a little stretch? I tried it. Good stuff.
What else might happen today if I were to go gently? What if I dressed with more pleasure, chose a nice shirt and a pair of socks without holes in them? What if I took my time making breakfast, set the mug down carefully instead of smacking it against the coffee table? What if I took the time to coax the cat from under the chair for her morning shot, instead of losing patience and grabbing her?
“Going gently” sums up Libra’s approach to the world. It appears as elegant touches in unexpected places, moving with grace, choosing the nice shirt, setting things down carefully, coaxing the cat. It’s in the little ways of approaching life with a spirit of beauty and grace, smoothness and quiet.
Libra is the sign of relating, and heaven knows the world could use more of Libra’s skill in this area, because as a species we’re treating each other pretty damn roughly. It seems some days as though we’re engaged in an ongoing contest to see who can be the most callous and rude, as though mistreating others were a badge of honor.
Lots of people my age express a longing to return to a gentler era, when folks avoided discussing sex, religion, and politics in public, and disagreed in private without demonizing one another. Let’s be clear: such a time probably didn’t really exist, except in our memories. But it certainly seems as though things were a lot more civil even throughout the crazy 60s and 70s.
On the other hand, the gentler days of yore were not so rosy if you had the bad luck of being a woman, a person of color, gay, the wrong religion, or anything else that wasn’t white, straight, and male. Moving the needle of justice even a bit in the direction of equal rights required that a whole lot of people get really angry and make a lot of noise. That’s where the Aries side of humanity really shines, in fighting for worthy causes and kicking asses that sorely need kicking.
But it’s pretty clear that things have gotten out of balance. A lot of us seem to anger more quickly; there’s a sense of fighting for basic survival. The approaching, titantic conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn (exact in January) reflects our growing estrangement from Libra’s innate harmony and gentleness.
It’s seemed much harder, in recent years, to strike a balance between fighting worthy battles and running roughshod over others. That balance was particularly wobbly over the past month, a flotilla of planets in Virgo called us to navigate a path complicated by lessons of giving and service, surrender and suffering. As the New Moon in Libra approaches, in aspect to Saturn, we’re asked to contain our restrain our wildness in the interest of civilization. The path forward grows somewhat straighter; it’s bordered by the clearly defined boundaries of careful hedgerows. It’s a gracious, civilized path that invites us to walk arm-in-arm and side by side, in the direction of a gentler era.