I’ve posted before about Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books.
When I first read them in high school, I was fascinated by the world of the books and intrigued by the main character – he was I think the first character (outside of a comic book) that I understood to be an anti-hero – someone who rejects the heroic mantle offered him. He is also a leper and the book illustrates that the disease destroys the nerve endings, so he cannot feel the way others can – and so, unless he is not careful, a bruise can turn into something worse, a cut left untended can fester and turn gangrenous. He has to perform was is called a VSE – a visual surveillance of extremities – so he can make sure he isn’t hurt.
This idea was one that captured my attention and one which still I find myself doing on a regular basis – only I’m not scanning my outer body for cuts or bruises. I do deep painful examinations of my inner life, my motives and my experiences, my place in the world – because I believe, at my very center, that I am supposed to contribute what I can to the betterment of others… and while that may sound noble, how I go about that doesn’t seem to be very noble, and I never feel I am doing all I can.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties – like a lot of creative or spiritual types – I read a lot of books about astrological signs and was excited and fascinated by how ‘spot on’ they seemed to be when it came to the attributes and characteristics that supposedly defined what my sign is – Pisces, the fish.
Here’s an example:
Down to their bones, Pisces are lovers. They are by nature selfless, giving souls. Shy, gentle and perceptive, a Pisces’ giving nature can get Fish into hot water if they’re not careful. Pisces have a tendency to be easily taken advantage of, so they must learn to focus in the real world now and then to watch for troublemakers.
Their highly sensitive and emotional qualities can make Pisces desperately fear criticism and judgments. If Fish aren’t being heard — or believe they’re not being heard — they may lapse into despondency and pessimism which will eventually lead them into procrastination and indifference. I’m sure you’re aware by now, if you weren’t before, of just how awful indifference is to Fish.
Pisces have a highly evolved intuition, are spiritually oriented, and incredibly perceptive.
Fish are defined by their feelings. This can be heavy for signs looking for lighter lovers. Creative and artistic, Pisces can, at times, become very focused on their own inner journeys, leaving their love interests and others in the dark.
Whether or not you are interested in astrology or believe in the study of it or that human beings are defined by what positions the stars were in when they born – it is interesting to look at the descriptions of what your sign is and think about what parts apply to you or if they apply to you at all. The above description was cribbed from Kate Wood. And upon reading it – and in light of recent events, and events going back the last decade or so, here I am once again performing another VSE on myself, my nature.
And if you follow the link and read her post you’ll not that I left some parts of her description out – only because I don’t feel they apply to me, not at the present time and if I’m honest almost never.
I am hyper-critical of myself, and as my last post no doubt revealed, I’m quite put out by certain behaviors that happen around me. But the real answer to that is my response to those behaviors and how I allow them to affect me. As much as I would like to see myself as wise and worldly, it bothers me to no end how I am affected and allow myself to be affected by the actions of others.
And so, when I read that a Pisces primary goal is the helping of others, I look at myself and find that that is not the case – I find myself looking at my actions and my reactions and seeing everything I do as an act of selfishness, not selflessness.
And I turn inward, fold in on myself and find myself having that same old argument I’ve had since high school – I’m not a good person, I am too focused on my own wants and desires.
Here are some of the positive qualities I see posted about Pisces – Imaginative, Kind, Compassionate, Intuitive, Sensitive, Selfless.
And while I may be compassionate – I feel way too much sometimes about others, hurting for them and being hurt by them (which is listed as one of the negative characteristics about a Pisces) – but I would never say of myself that I was charitable and utterly self-sacrificing. That isn’t me… I can’t be that way, not without losing myself. And I guess that’s insightful or wise, but on the other hand it sounds selfish – completely the opposite of selfless and giving.
What makes this even more depressing for me is that its not who I want to be – and try as I might to be better – I find my reactions to circumstances define who I am. And my reactions of late have all been ugly and angry. And while the extreme part of my nature fears I’m not ever going to get back to a place that allows me to be anything other than that – I know that everything changes.
Circumstances will either change for the better or for the worse – but what truly matters is my reaction to them. Action is character after all, and how I choose to act or react defines me.
I cannot afford to be selfless – I just don’t have the economic base or emotional reserves to be selfless at present. After two years of struggling to fit back into a place I would have liked to have called home I found myself unable to make it work financially. I made a decision to retreat, and up until the beginning of February of this year, had no income to speak of and so was stagnant and stuck. Fortunately I have found work and am getting my feet under me – but I find I am still in hunker mode, wrapping myself in a protective shell until I can breathe easier. ** as a caveat to that last bit, I did find time to write, to create and so it wasn’t at all as horrible as it sounds – if you just ignore the “I have no money” bit.
Don’t get me wrong – all of this seemingly negative stuff is me getting it out, rather than holding it in. A purge.
I like me, I like what I have to give – even though when I see or read terms like self-sacrificing I get real down on myself because self-sacrificing isn’t how I would describe writing stories or acting in plays.
Friends who read this will have a variety of reactions – from understanding to derision. But I point them to the part of this post that refers to a characteristic of Pisces that is very true about me – if I’m not being heard, if I’m not being seen – then I wither and retreat.
I am in retreat mode. But keeping an eye and my heart open for still waters and a safe harbor.