At the end of each summer, like clockwork, I used to anticipate surviving the fall. Thinking about back-to-school, carpooling kids, back-to-school events, weekend social calendars, travel plans… as life spun like a top perilously close to the edge of the table, I believed I could alleviate this feeling of over-extension by getting everything in order. I’d organize the dreaded tupperware drawer, and usually end up more tightly wound. One day, with one more birthday party to throw and dinner to make, I realized the honest truth was that I wanted to do nothing. I would as soon leave the birthday to fate, frisbee’d the family a frozen pizza, and head out to the beach. Which is, happily, what I did.
The tourists were trail-walking in full force. I meandered. Gratefully (because it’s hard to find a place to be alone in big California), I found a secret path no one else was on, requiring only an agile scramble up a cliffside to reach a rocky perch overlooking the sea. The wind whipped past my ears. The gulls screamed. I wondered if the little people below would hear me yell into the wind, so I did. They didn’t. It felt good. I kept yelling. I let out built up frustration and anxiety. I yelled with the gulls and the foghorns, and my problems receded with the tide. I was just a soul on a rock at the edge of the sea.
As I walked down to the beach, I felt lighter, emptier. Liberating my feet of their shoes, I waded into the cold tide pools of the Pacific. Drifting in spaciousness, I remembered the oceans I’ve visited over the years. As a child growing up in the landlocked southwest, I couldn’t wait to live by the ocean. I remembered my first beach experience at the Atlantic, a result of my grandmother’s move to someplace warm, a place she thought “the kids would want to visit me”. We visited often. The Coastal Carolina water was warm, welcoming. In my twenties, living in Hawaii, the water was alive with sea turtles, coral and tropical fish. On a Shepherd family vacation to Baja, the Sea of Cortez’s water was so magically salt-buoyant, I didn’t need to swim to float. Now, in Northern California the mussel encrusted rocks and sea-life rich tide pools made it worth getting your feet bone cold and your jeans wet, just to see.
Consciously spending “time outside of time” is one thing I often suggest to clients experiencing a Neptune or Twelfth House transit, times when uncertainty and anxiety are high. Beach-combing, meditation or getting lost in an art project are ways to spend time outside of time. These non-doing activities alleviate the anxieties and fears accompanying such a time, and loosen compulsive busy-ness at the root source of anxiety. More often, it’s about lessening one’s too high expectations and practicing self-acceptance. When I’m feeling over-extended, pressured or anxious my favorite mantra is: Nothing to do. No one to be. Nowhere to go. It’s an instant de-pressurizer.
Paradoxically, my most creatively prolific work arises from totally letting go of accomplishing anything at all. Yet, we resist doing nothing. We have ambition drilled into us, a cult of accomplishment, that says only pushing, striving, trying yields results. My dear granny argued that meditation was a time-waster. This was a heated debate in our household because my father was Buddhist. Her parents and grandparents were farmers; manual labor, not idle, kept food on the table. Yet for hours she would sit at her little bay window overlooking her retirement village cul de sac, knitting, curiously waiting to see what or who would happen onto her street. The neighbor’s daughter was visiting …there’s a new teenager cutting the so-and-so’s yard. She would call her sister, my great aunt, who lived next door, report the goings-ons of the neighborhood. I believe this nothing doing quieted and soothed her. She was in her own way letting go and letting God.
With her Sixth House Aries Sun, she was a big believer in human do-ing. Twelfth House/Pisces retirement was hard on her. So much free time was confusing; she would complain that she felt useless. She’s not alone. Like her, we confuse doing nothing with being no one. If you’ve had a spiritual awakening, you know this from experience: our Ego is desperately afraid of going into the void, that empty space of nothingness, while at the same time craving it. Yet at the end of the cycle, or the end of the day, the simple be-ingness of Pisces allows us to, finally, receive our own good.
As the Sun enters Virgo, our pre-autumn syllabus calls for organization, scheduling, and the shoring up of a million little details which are supposed to make our lives better. Even organizing, to-do lists, and getting into better shape can be taken too far; Virgo season can be merciless and tricky when self-perfection leads to our self-undoing. Beware the promised inner peace of a yoga class becoming a full on competition to fit into your favorite dress, or to stay in handstand even longer. Beware especially, if you have an attachment to becoming more perfect. As a balance, at Pisces Full Moon it’s time to willingly turn away from activities that feed our compulsive need for doing more, better. We soul-yearn for simply be-ing good enough as we are.
Now is the time to reverently do nothing. Pisces Full Moon is perfect for daydreaming, spacing out, creating, discovering our hidden fantasy life, helping us to find our particular form of doing nothing. The idea that relaxation, doing nothing, pays dividends in fulfillment and happiness is utterly counterintuitive to our Ego. Pisces asks us to go beyond that idea, and eventually every other, too. Even doing nothing. When we discover that doing nothing helps us do everything better -and- that our Ego can use doing nothing into a way to be more… productive, happier, aligned, enlightened, whatever goal we have made for our self… “doing nothing” then becomes something to transcend, too. With Pisces, the cosmic joke is on us. Eventually, we will give up all of it, as it all merges into the sea of oneness and Divinity. Then, like the Buddha, the only thing left to do is laugh.