Saturn Return – A Sabbatical

Thrice in an individual’s life Saturn returns to the same point in the sky as it was when we were born – the Saturn Return. In Hindu Astrology its known as Saade Saati. “It is believed by astrologers that, as Saturn ‘returns’ to the degree in its orbit occupied at the time of birth, a person crosses over a major threshold and enters the next stage of life. With the first Saturn return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood. With the second return, maturity. And with the third and usually final return, a person enters wise old age.”

When your doctor tells you to “do nothing,” it’s real. It’s you better take this serious kind of real.

Naturally my initial response to this was denial, depression, anxiety– the standard. How can I do nothing? Why  would I want to? What about all the things I am going to miss out on? Cue dramatic meltdown.

After two weeks of this nonsense I gave in, so to speak, and I embraced the state of nothingness. The white towel got thrown in and I let myself sink sweetly into the crevice of my couch. It should be noted however that I have an Italian suede sectional. It wasn’t too difficult giving in.

Seven weeks in and the smorgasbord of selfishness is in full swing. I’ve been reading, eating, lounging, napping, watching, thinking, and dreaming. In fact, I’ve decided that I’m on a forced sabbatical. “Sabbatical” sounds far more romantic, plus, let’s face it: I’m soul searching like mad. It’s so sabbatical.

As Saturn returns, I’m assessing everything. The big questions? Define success. Discover core desires. Find peace.

A couple of revelations…

Success is not a destination that I’m running hastily to. It’s just not. And, I’m not late. I’m perfectly on time. How many of us are caught up in chasing success? I think in the 90’s they called it the Rat Race. The race for things, titles, cars, children, stuff. So, how do you measure success? Pre-sabbatical I don’t think I gave it serious thought. I knew I wanted to BE successful yet silly me, I didn’t define “successful.” Instead, I filled up my calendar, told myself I’d sleep when I was dead, and kept motoring on.

This brings me to an epiphany: busyness is not success. The more I take on, the fewer date nights I have with my husband, the less flexibility I give myself… – this does not equate a successful person. This makes for a burnt out, lost person. Also, a person who doesn’t eat nearly enough ice cream. This brings me to point two…

Life is to be lived. I know, I know – groundbreaking stuff, right? When I say life must be lived I mean its meant to be experienced: tasted, felt, heard, saw, and smelt. Stop and smell the roses never rung so true. Or, in my case, stop and eat some ice cream. These past few weeks I’ve been doing only what brings me joy. And consciously thinking “what will bring me joy right now?” How can I get to that super-metaphysical place and just relish in it? Instead of chasing my degree and 2.2 kids, I’m going to chase the feeling of joy.

All this assessing brought me further down the rabbit hole and I found cosmology. That’s right, cosmology. I enrolled in an iTunesU course and did some completely frivolous learning. Why? Because I am deeply curious about the universe. Now I can tell you how old the universe is (13.77 billion years), who discovered gravity [Sir Issac Newton (who also created calculus)], and I can tell you that as early as 400 BCE it was suggested (and ruled out) that the universe was sphere and that there were many worlds beyond ours (Democritus). I’ll tell you one thing: it feels amazing to explore my curiosities.

Learning about the history of the universe awakened me to a new level of gratitude. Gratitude for the planet, the trees, the singing birds – all the wonder that is earth. And beyond that, gratitude that I’m a female living in Canada (not in say, India) and that my biggest problem right now is “What is Success.” How trivial, mundane, and self-centered. I could have real problems like lack of clean water or food or the threat of being attacked, raped, sold, killed, etc.

I further fueled my exploration into gratitude by visiting a local Buddhist Centre and heard a monk speak on gratitude and kindness. He talked about gratitude – for everything – from thanking the feet that balance us to our ancestors who developed and sophisticated our language. His message was that every person is a living being and somehow, some way, each of us has contributed to one another and for that we should approach each other with kindness and gratitude. For example, sitting down and having a cup of tea, he asked us to consider how many people on earth contributed so that you could have your cup of tea? Let’s see: the tea leaf farmer, the packager, the distributor, the shipper, the receiver, the plumber, the kitchen builder, the cup maker, the chair builder…. You get the point, yes?

Defining success on my own terms and discovering my true desires are huge feats and I’m O.K. with letting this all simmer in the pot. Everything worth working for, is worth waiting for. These thoughts will simmer, evolve, and expand, and my answers will manifest. Gratitude is the vessel to love and I’m on board.

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