When I was a kid, I always had a long list of things I wanted — but I rarely had any money with which to buy them. I spent hours roaming stores, coveting record albums, fancy stationery, crazy shoes, and astrology books. My Christmas lists were rambling and detailed; they practically had footnotes. I wanted – I yearned.
These days I often find myself with the opposite problem: a handful of disposable cash, and no earthly idea of what to spend it on. It’s not a real problem, I realize — or at least, not one that any tactful person would admit to in the current economic climate. But mind you, we’re not talking about huge sums of money. We’re talking about a stray $20, maybe a $50 windfall. Whereas when I was ten, fourteen, twenty-five I could have rattled off a dozen items that money might buy, today I’m at a loss.
I think of buying some trinket for the house, or a book, and immediately I think, “Oh Lord, we’ve got so much clutter as it is, and this funky old house with no storage.” So maybe I take my husband out to lunch instead. But it’s the dearth of desire that has puzzled me; a sort of anesthetic brought about by years of financial uncertainty and black-belt frugality. Perhaps, I thought, I simply no longer know what pleases me. Perhaps I’ve lost the reflexes for enjoyment of the physical world.
I was born with Saturn, the cruel lord of restraint, in the second house of my chart – the house of money, property, and the good life, one of the houses of Venus. Not surprisingly, I come from a challenging background, financially speaking; I’ve always had a lot of fear about money, and strangely enough, the current economic crisis makes me feel… not validated, exactly, but less alone in these fears. Not that my anxiety taught me to be responsible with my money; that I can only ascribe to some happy synergistic miracle between my husband and me, because we both were financially “born again” when we got married, leaving behind our habits of proligate spending and debt. It seems that once I found Venus in a relationship, I no longer needed to seek her in shoes or fancy bed linens.
But the coming New Moon in pleasure-loving Taurus (May 2, 2011, 11:51 pm PDT; May 3 to the east), and Venus’ recent opposition to Saturn, had me thinking that perhaps I’ve taken my fiscal caution a little too far. The prevailing wisdom is that the key to burrowing out of the current recession is for those with a little money to spread it around. So so like a dutiful bee I’ve been pollinating our neighborhood businesses with more cash than usual, paying a little extra for things at the local small grocery instead of going to the big-box chain store, shopping for birthday gifts at the weird boutiques on our main street. We’re donating to charities and hiring people to do things we’d normally do for ourselves (change the car’s oil, prepare our taxes). But beyond the ingredients for daily life, I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted. In a culture as relentlessly consumerist as ours, I often feel like an oddity.
I began to wonder whether my poor little Venus was undernourished, withering on the vine from neglect. Then last weekend the weather turned unseasonably hot, and on Saturday morning we brewed our coffee, bought some pastries from the local donut shop, and headed over to the park with our camp chairs for a picnic breakfast. Sitting with my husband in one of our city’s most beautiful places, breathing fresh air and watching the squirrels, the joggers, and the vivid spring flowers, and drinking excellent coffee, I suddenly realized that I know exactly what pleases me. I felt delighted, happy, and exceedingly wealthy – and all it cost was a few bucks.
At another perilous moment in our nation’s history, President Roosevelt spoke of four fundamental freedoms humans everywhere in the world ought to enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. At this moment in our history, I count myself blessed to have a roof over my head, food on the table, and an income; I’m all too aware that these things make me richer than many, many people. And as long as I have these basics and can enjoy beloved companionship and natural beauty, I find that I want for nothing – and my Venus feels just fine, thanks.
New Moon blessings to one and all, and the hope that we all may enjoy freedom from fear and from want — and the occasional good cup of coffee.
© April Elliott Kent. All rights reserved