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Bittersweet Apples for 5779

I’ve posted this Louise Erdrich quote before but it bears repeating for the Jewish New Year. It’s how I always hope to live.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

Advice for the Green-Hearted

Today I’m sitting down in my writerspace to work on my book for the first time since early August. In the weeks since I last dove into it, I’ve let go of my hometown and my heart has broken. Sitting with this quiet is painful–the solitude of writing feels especially acute–and I keep flashing on something my friend K, an artist of no small repute, said this week as I wept to him in the middle of the night. I had been devastated by how little I felt I or my work mattered and he had exhaled audibly. “No matter who you are, the act of making art is incredibly lonely,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how successful you are, nor how much support you seem to have. You don’t know if anyone will care about it. You don’t know if it matters at all if you do it. You do know you’ll probably go broke before all’s said and done. But you do it because it’s inside you and it needs to be born, and the world needs as much of the light of creation as we can offer it.” He was right. So I ate this morning and slept last night for the first time since Monday, when things fell apart. And today I am trying again. Because, really, as so much cold-heartededness abounds around us, it’s the only thing we can do. Own our actions. Bear some light.

Venus Runs Amok

Venus retrogrades roughly every 18 months and when it does, we all wear what I call “Venus retrograde goggles.” By this I mean that nothing tastes or looks or feels exactly right, and what resonates aesthetically often will feel super off once Venus goes direct. This is because this planet governs love, money, and aesthetics–all things beauty-related–so we’ll have an opportunity to examine our patterns and misconceptions in this area whether we like it or not. Expect old lovers to come out of the woodwork, expect old heartbreak to resurface as well.

The retrograde begins officially on October 5 and lasts until November 16–it’s 40 days and 40 nights, essentially–but we entered its shadow yesterday. Did you feel it? Were there checks delayed, problems with a bank account? Did you get into a fight with a partner, buy a skirt you’re already questioning?

I know I’m always informing you about retrogrades but 2018 has been retrograde central and Venus is the last planet to deliver such a doozy this year (if you don’t count our last Mercury retrograde, anyway). And this retrograde has been the astrological aspect I’ve been most dreading on a personal note. It’s taking place mostly in Libra within a degree of my moon in Libra. Since the moon governs our emotional response and Venus is ruled by Libra, I’ll be feeling it like a mo-fo in pretty much every area of my life, especially since my career has an aesthetic bent. I expect zits, a decline in my critical faculties, and emotional devastation.

Which is all to say that last night was the hardest I’ve had in 2018, and today all I want is to curl up on the couch of someone who lays a cool hand upon my forehead and drops an afghan over me as I weep. Who lets me know I am loveable even at my most difficult, who lets me float without drowning, who sees me even when I cannot see myself, and who will love me even when I love them back.

My heart already aches, you see, and all the unkindness and hurts we harbor are emerging from the darkness so we may heal them with light. I don’t know how I’m going to handle this baptism by fire. I don’t even know how I’m going to eat today. But I know I’m telling you because I haven’t quite given up yet. Send afghans. Send quiet company. Send love for my sharpest edges. While you’re at it, send some for yourself.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy