The Otherness of our human condition is spotlighted now as millions of displaced people, like great herds of migrating wildebeest, flee from the blood-lust that has annihilated their homes and villages. How will this surge of humanity be integrated into the hoary structures of Old Europe? What will their future hold?
Them and Us patterns life on this planet. We divide and sort ourselves into neat piles like poppy seeds and grains of wheat. We label these with race, wealth, class, gender, nationality, intelligence, intuition, religion and age. We pin our fluttering multi-coloured iridescent contradictions to the board of static stereotype. We confine our mellifluousness and our Mystery as intellect and spirit displaces soul.
In Greek myth, Procrustes owned a bed that he claimed would fit anyone – no matter how tall or short you were. If you were too tall, your feet would simply be hacked off. If you were too short, your limbs would be stretched to the right length. The ancient Greek equivalent of “one size fits all” still applies today as we lop off or stretch those parts of ourselves to fit into our relationships and communities.
Best-selling (of course!) Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (with Nell Scovell ) mixes and stirs the sticky stereotype – them and us. A dollop of gender, education and tribal affiliation, heavily seasoned with important who’s who in the zoo names and pedigrees, the book is peppered with freshly ground data, liberally sprinkled with paragraphs that fit so perfectly the mythic American Hero, who despite all odds cuts a trail through rugged terrain. Lean In reinforces the belief that “everything is possible.” It’s the American one-size-fits-all.
A woman called Marissa Mayer, mother of a toddler has decided to take 14 days maternity leave after the birth of her identical twin daughters. If Marissa was a single mom working in Wallmart or in a factory in China, who would give a damn? That Marissa is CEO of Yahoo! and one who aspires to learn the technique of jungle gym climbing to survey the rest of the playground, this news has caused a stir. Can you believe the example she is setting? …What woman would ever work at Yahoo! after this? … Is Marissa even human?
Caught in the belly of the insatiable anaconda we strive to “Lean In” and “Do It All” in the rule-determined chess game of Life. We call ourselves the human race as we compete and compare and hurry towards the finishing line. We fill ourselves with striving and doing and our Solar Light burns so brightly that like Icarus we fly to the Sun on melting wings. It’s when we become aware of the barriers between us, when we take note of the differences between male and female, refugees and home owners, intuitives and scientists, young and old, Christian and Moslem, CEOs and stay-at-home moms, that we lose our way in the labyrinth of the soulless ghetto of Otherness.
Those who choose to pick up the Sword and slay the nine-headed Hydra are enacting perhaps unwittingly the initiatory Journey of the Hero, a figure who is lauded in many cultures and most especially in the West. We strive. We compete. We notice our differences even as we celebrate them. When the siren call of success and fame and fortune calls do we answer? Do we lie down on Procrustes’s bed to be fitted to size? For eons our addiction to Perfection, to norms and expectations has been marinading in a Christian-Judaic stew. Our unworthiness has been branded into our skins, seared into our flesh and we’ve remained small and safe yet barely alive through witch-hunts, slavery, apartheid and patriarchal religion.“You can’t do it all. No one can have two full-time jobs, have perfect children and cook three meals and be multi-orgasmic till dawn. Superwoman is the adversary of the women’s movement,” said Gloria Steinem.
Writes Susan Sontag, “if a young person — man or woman — in his or her twenties would sit down with a bunch of people in their sixties or seventies, one of those persons might have said, What a pity you have to sit here with five old people, that must be boring for you!”
We diminish and apologise for ourselves. We’re too fat, too ugly, too black, too old, too Sudanese, too woman; and so we take years to fully perceive our own multifaceted beauty, and make the internal shift that says, I am Enough.
Oscar Wilde lived a life that was filled to the brim with un apologetic panache and a-flutter with flamboyance. He, like so many who fly high and wear the laurel wreath of Victory, lived fully and expansively. Yet the time came for him to empty out. To surrender to the Mystery that is our uniqueness in the inter-connectedness of all things. From his austere prison cell where he was incarcerated for loving another man, he wrote, “The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?”
The orbit of our soul is reflected back to us in our birth chart. We are all unique and all have a unique destiny to experience this life time.
Some of us may aspire to become army generals or astronauts. Some of us may want to watch our children play while we plant dahlias or grow cabbages in our gardens for no other reason than we like them. Some of us may know that one size does not fit all and that we find our Belonging as we breathe out, lean back and empty.
Tom Odell Sirens
Saturday 31 October & Sunday 1 November
The Astrological Lodge of London, 50 Gloucester Place W1U 8EA
£85.00 per day, or £150.00 for both
Join us for an exciting weekend of relationship astrology in London, designed to be suitable for all levels. The two days are completely different but are designed to complement one another, so you can choose to do either day, or both. Bookings – firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com