” Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I was in 4th grade, my teacher noticed I had a penchant for speed and the next thing I knew I somehow ended up on the track team. For those of you who have been to a track meet, you know the day is filled with events and races of various lengths – from the lightening dashes to those long distance leg crushers. My forte? The 100 yard dash. (Not really a surprise. Everyone knows Aries are born sprinters. We kind of hit the ground running.) But as the day stretched on, faster races crowded with energetic, wiry ‘athletes’ slowly thinned out. We were already swapping snacks and swilling Gatorade when the far fewer participants would line up for, you know, those crazy races. The kind that required pacing, endurance and commitment. The kind of races that would make us watch in cock eyed disbelief, wondering who would put themselves through that? Even now I feel much the same about marathon runners, which would be a pinnacle of crazy. But then again, that’s looking through my lens. Some signs are built for speed, some are built for distance. And then there’s Taurus.
Throughout the Spotlight series you’ll hear me talk about the natural progression of the zodiac. It’s hard to imagine unless you look at it as a whole, only then can you understand that everything is connected. Everything. Aries truly emerges out of nothingness. (Well, not really, but we’ll talk about that much later in Spotlight on Pisces – Stay tuned!) I always find it interesting that we celebrate the ‘new’ year on January 1st most creatures are well into hibernation. Have we forgotten that we can learn so much from nature which truly shows us the magic of rebirth when the conspiracy of sun and rain coax the brown terrain into fields of verdant green? We have a perennial reminder that life does indeed begin again with renewed possibilities in pure defiance of the seemingly bleak wreckage left behind by Winter. But with the promise of potentiality comes responsibility, for nothing of value exist without sustenance, which demands proper preparation. Sure, Aries are brimming over with great ideas. They’re virtual visionary popcorn makers of imagination, but when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and doing the work, you really want a Taurus in your corner. This is the sign of the bull. Strong? Even the word seems inadequate. You have no idea. There’s a reason these animals are pulling the tills for days on end. If there’s a job a hand, they won’t stop until it’s done. They will show you such a well of endurance that will make them appear superhuman. It’s really best to let them work at their own pace, which seems mind-numbingly belabored to the rest of us. I’m not going to call them slow, but I’m pretty sure tectonic plates clock a better MPH. But when they start a project with focus and motivation, they’re freight trains of productivity, frequently losing track of time and refusing to be bothered with things like meals and sleep. They’re solid, the like the terra firma beneath us. These quiet and unassuming beasts are capable of tremendous accomplishments because of their commitment, patience and astute skill for planning. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. I know a brilliant contractor, which is a profession perfect for a Taurus — they must work with tangible things. They’re very hands on. Contractors are not only master craftsmen (well, the good ones), but they’re building things that stand the test of time. Have you heard the phrase measure twice, cut once? It means take the time to make sure everything is right. If you don’t, the whole thing might be ruined and you’ll have to start over. Have you ever driven by a construction site that seemed to take forever with all that work down in what looks like just a big gaping hole? That’s called the foundation, and if it’s not done with painstaking accuracy, that building just might come crashing down. Ask anyone in earthquake vulnerable cities. It’s also this dedication to creating something worth the test of time that gives them incredibly high standards. There’s nothing cheap, easy or slapdash about anything they do. If you’re lucky enough to see of their projects, I don’t advise you watch in real time. But when you view the end product, be it months (or years) later, you will marvel at something the may appear to have been built by an army. I have no doubt a Taurus was involved in The Pyramids. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just one.
But with all that hard work (which by the way, isn’t really ‘work’ to them – really.), it may be easy to forget one some of their more gentle and lovely attributes, like innate beauty and brilliant artistic flair. After all, Taurus is ruled by Venus and when the goddess of beauty and art alights on those with focus and dedication, the result is usually a tremendous portfolio. It’s not uncommon to find some of the greatest and most prolific artists here. Duke Ellington (April 29th) the charismatic composer and big band leader whose career spanned 50 years, wrote over 1,000 compositions spanning many genres from jazz to gospel and set a new standard for American music. That wasn’t a typo – a thousand, and we’re not talking Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. ‘First Lady of Song’ Ella Fitzgerald (April 25th) was admired for her incredible three octave range and flawless intonation, but also her purity and warmth. She’s in good company with other musical legends like Bing Crosby (May 3rd), Barbra Streisand (April 24th), Cher (May 20th). Billy Joel (May 9th) Bono (May 10th) and James Brown (May 3rd). Martha Graham (May 11th) had a dancing and choreography career that lasted over 70 years, which is longer than most people can even walk.
Venus is also a strong influence in Taurus through their sensuality. Mind you, that’s not the same as sexuality (a much later sign). Sadly I think sensuality is a quality that’s frequently misinterpreted, because we’ve lost our sense of touch without it being related to sex. It’s so much more than that. People who are sensual are in touch with all of their senses. Taureans have this grounded, comfortable in their skin essence that somehow can put people at ease. Perhaps it comes out of a need to refuel their bodies when they’re eventually reached their exhaustion point, but they know how to not only rest, but descend into languid indulgence which brings a sense of deep rejuvenation to body and soul. They don’t walk – they glide. Watch. They have an effortless grace that makes them almost luminous. And being so sensual, they’re good at sensing a lot of things, like intuition, reading others. Body language? They’re all over that. But don’t worry. You know exactly where you stand with them. They’re the ones you go to if you want the unadulterated truth – they have a zero tolerance for bullshit policy. And lest we not forget they’re reliable. You know you can count on them. Their affection and trust may be slow to earn, but when they do few signs are as loyal or as ardent. They don’t feel complete until they stand for something. Though when they are firmly committed (is there any other way to commit?) they’re immobile, even if it’s just an opinion. You can’t truly understand the meaning of the word truculence until you try to get a Taurus to change their mind. If you think you can do that, I’ve got a mountain I’d like you to move for me.
April 26, 1564
I know – you hate him. They made you study him in school and you couldn’t understand a word he wrote. You’d rather read the CliffNotes. Or see the Kenneth Branagh movies (By all means, do – they’re brilliantly awesome!!). Believe me, I get it, because I used to hate him too. Then I was fortunate enough to have an amazing theatre arts professor enlightened me to the brilliance of the ‘Bard of Avon’. (Shout out to Terry Miller — Whoop whoop!) With a little time and patience, I could learned how to hear the rapier wit of his dialogue, appreciate the musicality of his verse, and the depth and universal humanity of his characters. It is a skill, like learning a foreign language, but so worth the investment. His canon of 37 full length plays are still considered the foundation of classical theatre with a wide and varied collection heartbreaking dramas, sweeping romances, and jocular comedies. But my favorite are his history plays – the ones that seem rarely read or performed, but have some of the most vivid characters and most passionate speeches. I encourage you to give them another look. Next year will mark the 400th anniversary of his death, and yet not only are his plays still performed, but there are many annual Shakespeare Festivals thriving worldwide. There is good reason that his artistic legacy is thriving long after he has shuffled off this mortal coil. (His words, not mine!)
April 21, 1838
Many of you may not have heard of John Muir, but he could easily be considered the godfather of tree huggers. He was a Scottish born naturalist who emigrated to America as a youth, but found his truest sense of home in the wonderland of nature. From an early age he began a lifelong mission dedicated to the preservation of the United States wilderness which led to the establishment of the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks as well as The Sierra Club, one of today’s most prominent conservation organizations. He exemplified the archetype of our oneness with the earth and believed that the natural world was a ‘conductor of divinity’. If you’ve been lucky enough to marvel at the looming Half Dome or revered the monumental trees of the Sequoias it’s apparent to see that we walk within a museum every day.
May 6, 1961
Doesn’t he somehow end up on just about every list? He’s been called handsome, iconic, the quintessential leading man, ‘the Sexiest Man Alive’ (twice) and one of the most influential people in the world. Wow, anyone with that kind of pedigree must have been an overnight success. One would think, but no. Curiously, George spent over 13 years ‘paying his dues’ with bit parts and walk on roles, one minute being told he was ‘lightening in a bottle’, the next that he needed acting lessons. It’s a brutal business that quickly weeds out those who are easily discouraged and unwilling to go the distance. Taureans are pragmatic enough to face any opposition without feeling defeated and keep their eye on the prize with the patience to wait for their time. Also like many Taureans, he just seems to keep getting better over time. After all, time is the difference between grape juice and wine. He didn’t rest on leading man laurels, but labored on as director and producer, much like another iconic Taurus who shares the same birthday – Orson Wells. (You know – he did a little film called Citizen Kane.) OK, NOW he can rest, right? Who wouldn’t be perfectly happy upon arriving at megastardom? No, George has parlayed his influence to make a difference for many humanitarian causes such as Not On Our Watch Project, an organization dedicated to prevent mass atrocities, being an advocate to resolve the conflict in Darfur as well as relief for many natural disasters. And if all of this isn’t reason enough to hate him, he’s reputed to be one of the most likable people in Hollywood — direct, self-effacing and disgustingly down to earth, seemingly unchanged by the vast success he has attained. (Why yes, I did spend an inordinate amount of time choosing a photo. It was research, and time well spent.)
We live in an instant age. Patience may be considered a virtue, but it’s hard to say it’s truly valued. We’re deeply steeped in instant gratification, so much so that you can see the eye rolling of those waiting in line for anything, especially when the line isn’t moving fast enough. Our palates have likely been so dulled by fast food and microwave convenience that a slow roasted, finely prepare meal might send us into shock. Want a mate? Try speed dating, or better yet shop the dating sites for the right profile, wink at them, set up a coffee date, instantly eliminate when they don’t have that ‘instant chemistry’ – lather, rinse, repeat. Wanna lose weight? Why go the time tested route of exercise and diet when liposuction can suck the fat away. No judgement here – I’m no better. Patience has never been one of my strong suits and with the advancements of technology I’ve found myself more ADD than ever, perpetually reaching for life’s FFW button. I’ve frequently joked that the only patience I know are sick people in hospitals. (Well, that joke doesn’t work as well in writing, obviously, but you get the point..) I’ve forgotten that we live under the master of time, as opposed to it being on our schedule. I live in a city where traffic is a constant reminder that you only have so much control over how fast you get there, and how much you enjoy the ride. I’m always a little surprised that whenever I focus on a sign for a month, I find that I get to live with it as my own, like wearing someone else’ clothes. So for the past few weeks I’ve been marinating in Taurus, and have been reminded not only how little I am like the graceful beasts. Of all the signs, I think this is the one I envy most. If only I had their unappreciated combination of focus and fortitude , I might have actually accomplished something by now. And their comfort, their ease – they’re like walking tranquility, yet profoundly secure in who they are. While many of us are racing toward that magical ‘it’ — the destination, that thing that will make us happy, there’s so much we’re missing in the now. There’s something very spiritual about their energy, those human sanctuaries. You just want to sit and rest a while with them. I don’t know if it’s because of their pace, or patience, or their long term vision, but Taureans seem to live more experientially than any other sign. Everyone can hear, but can you listen. Everyone can taste, but can you savor. Everyone can see, but have you mastered the art of drinking with your eyes. Taureans know. They draw it in – in their bodies, in their pores, in their essence. Races were meant to won by the speedy, but let’s be real- if life is a race, it’s marathon. No one really wants to focus on that finish line, so why not enjoy the scenery along the way. Maybe even find a nice forest where there lives a profound sense of beauty that has evolved over eons into a world of quiet wisdom. Maybe watch the light show of sunlight darting through tree branches, or indulge in the sound of songbirds harmonizing with the wind, and the soothing smell of dew drenched pine. Hurry up! You’re behind in the race. Hmm… really. Are they? In their own way they just might be leaving us all in the dust.