Inspiration strikes when we least expect it – we just have to pay attention and catch the falling star before it fades away.
Yesterday, Saturn dropped by while I was having coffee with a friend. We didn´t set out to speak about him but he´s not the kind of guy who waits for an invitation – he shows up when he has to.
He´s the policeman, or party pooper, who erupts in the middle of a gathering to warn the light minded folks they must turn the music volume down, stop drinking and go to bed:
-You got work to do tomorrow, you morons!
Party guests look at the floor. The clink of the cups, overflowing with champagne, stops. Someone mumbles “damn” – weak, resigned, with bad breath.
This is how he shows up: unannounced, unwelcome, necessary.
He´s the Father, the Master Teacher, the echo that comes back to haunt us, the invisible boomerang we rarely want to acknowledge. He´s Cronos – the Lord of Time -, Karma, Limits, Responsibility and Wisdom earned from personal experience. The fun stuff.
He´s the voice that warns you against the possibility of failure – he´s also the voice that tells you “if you put your mind to it, and work with all your might, you´ll get there.”
He´s our fears – he´s also the loving parent who doesn´t want his kids to get messed up by falling into life´s crooked corners.
If you cannot beat them, join them. Bad losers, like me, choose their opponents wisely. And Saturn is not an opponent I can bring down. So I befriend him:
I listen to his warnings – I consider them and create safety nets that will allow me to succeed, or fall, with damage I can recover from. I act against him, while carrying him on my back; I question him, have intimate chats with him, invoke his help – often disguised as opposition. I allow his ambition to drag me up the mountain.
Muscles don´t get strong without struggle. You gotta push, push, push – childbirth, remember? – and sacrifice for what you want to bring to life.
He knows I´m a hard worker, a warrior, someone who has never had a single penny handed to her. I mean business and he delivers the candy as a reward.
We meet on the ring – he punches me and I punch him harder. It´s a beautiful thing to watch: a love-hate relationship. We cannot live with each other; we cannot live without each other.
-You cannot do it. – He teases me. – I´ll break your bones.
–You, bitch! I can do it. I´ve done it before.
-Nope. Not this time. You cannot do it, I´m telling ya´.
– Get real. Who the fE”R#$%R& do you think you are?
-You´re so common. Drop the clichés, asshole.
As my friend Susana put it, my Saturn is a pissed off, badass, black woman from the Bronx.
He, or she, is the frenemy – the jerk who pulls your wrong strings so badly – you´re a loser; you´re not talented, good, worthy enough – you have no other choice but to prove him wrong.
When the Perfectionist Whisper – one of Saturn´s many masks – comes by, I kick it to the curb by doing the opposite he tells me I´m going to do.
Example: I was terrified by the idea of writing a text about Saturn. And here I am, doing it. Perhaps shitty, perhaps not. Who has the authority to tell?
The fact is I sat down and made it. I´m ahead of everyone who didn´t do it. Critics will criticize – doers will, eventually, write shitty texts. So, what?
I turned an idea into a deed, despite the limits, real or imaginary, that bind me: self-confidence, time, talent and knowledge. Victory is here, in the done deed, as far as I´m concerned.
We tend to wait until doubt, and fear, disappear so we can move ahead. What if they never go away? Will you keep waiting?
Joining forces with your doubts and moving forward, with your fear checked in your luggage, is probably a better strategy.
Results are overrated while doing is shamefully underrated. Maybe because it´s not a glamorous thing to watch. And I agree: it´s not.
Who wants to see a dishevelled writer struggling with a phrase – doing, and redoing, it – like a maniac, at 4 o´clock in the morning, in his pajamas?
We want the lotus flower but few of us are willing to dip our hands in the mud.
Hint: no mud, no lotus.
See it as a collaboration with our shadow.
When I show up, for whatever I set myself to do, and face the storms with arms wide open, perseverance and an almost absurd stubbornness (I ain´t quitting, bitch!), Saturn compensates me.
It all comes down to courage. The courage to be human – less than ideal, way less than “perfect”, whatever perfect means to each one of us. The courage to see how limited, and unlimited, we are as creators. Creators of specific work; creators of our own life.
We´re afraid of facing our limits – we´re even more afraid of facing our unlimited potential. We´re terrified of our own Greatness and the responsibility attached to it.
Here´s something my (less than) friendly meetings with Saturn have taught me: once you accept to face your limits, and work against them, you start to go beyond them. You become a wall breaker. Those broken walls will take you to other walls. From wall to wall- keep breaking them -, the sculptor reveals his Masterpiece.
For the record:
Having great ideas doesn´t make you an artist; thinking about happiness doesn´t make you a happy person; knowledge is not wisdom.
One of the keys to long lasting happiness, or Happiness as a default mode, is the guts to make peace with Saturn, our Great Father, the Asshole who tells you can´t so you can get enraged and prove him wrong.
Face the bull – eye to eye.
Pay the bill.
Take responsibility for your life.
Work with, or against, walls.
Accept time, and the wisdom to work with(in/out) it, as a natural part of life.
Dare to turn dreams into reality, even if reality falls short (it often does) or turns out to be the opposite you imagined.
Learn patience, resilience, persistence, humbleness & unshakeable self-confidence.
Look at what you´ve created and be proud, even if what you created looks deformed, small, beneath the ideal you carried around for so long.
Embrace the hidden part of the iceberg – the work nobody sees but ultimately allows you to shine on the surface.
Accept the difference between the world of IDEAS and MATTER. Ideas are limitless – matter isn´t. Ideas make you feel like Einstein – matter makes you feel human. As I often say: we´re all geniuses in our heads. It´s the DOING, turning wishes into deeds, that reveal our true potential and build our character.
Hug the father. There´s Light on the other side of fear.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 by Theodore Roosevelt