Beliefnet
Oh My Stars

matthew currie saturn in sagittariusThere’s just one more month of Saturn in Sagittarius to go, and many of you are taking a pounding to your placements in the late degrees of the Mutable Signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces). Saturn may be picking up speed now and it won’t hover around those degrees for long (by Saturn standards at least), but that doesn’t necessarily make this transit better. Sometimes speed just mean the effect is compressed in time. It will be over sooner, but that may not help as much as you might think. Having your foot run over by a slow car or a fast one still crushes some bones.

For those of you experiencing the end of Saturn in Sagittarius this way now: a story.

***

I am fortunate to have been born and raised and spend most of my life in Canada. We don’t face the same threats from civil war and malaria and mass shootings and terrorism that many other places in the world do. But one thing we do understand? It’s hypothermia.

Imagine you were young and stupid and there was this party that you just absolutely had to get to. For one reason or another you couldn’t find the right coat, so you wore a lighter one.

You went to that party and you had a good time, but you left later than you thought and the connecting bus to get you the remaining eight blocks home is no longer running, so you’re going to have to walk the rest of the way home. You can’t find your gloves. A blizzard has blown in, and you are under the influence of three of the world’s most dangerous drugs: youth, optimism, and alcohol.

You find yourself in the blizzard walking face-first into the wind, and every wind-driven snowflake is like another needle being stuck in your exposed skin. Even the coat isn’t completely blocking it. Every time you look up to see where you are going it’s like being slapped in the face, and you can’t really see much anyway because of the blowing snow. Even though the neighborhood is familiar you are navigating as much by memory as by street lights.

You stick your hands under your shirt to keep them warm but that isn’t working either. You can actually feel the skin on your face starting to harden, if you could flick your cheek with your fingers you’d swear you would hear it go clunk… but you wouldn’t be able to feel it. And your fingers aren’t really working now anyway.

And you still have five blocks to go.

You try to move as fast as you can because you know that movement generates heat but it’s still not enough. In a moment of despairing clarity you realize the remaining blocks are actually much longer than you remembered, despite the fact that you’ve come this way a hundred times before. You can’t feel your ears anymore.

And you still have three blocks to go.

Suddenly you start to warm up. Your eyeballs feel warm inside their sockets and you feel light and drowsy and a little giddy. The blizzard hasn’t stopped but it feels like a cloud of warm tropical air has descended on you. It’s heaven, and you think that if you just go lie down in a snowbank and take a short nap you can ride this out and finish your trip home. Among other things, hypothermia makes you stupid.

You know that this is a sign that the hypothermia is really kicking in now, and if you follow through on your urge to lie down, you are going to die. If you give into that impulse someone will find you in the morning, and they will have to spend a day thawing out your corpse in order to do the autopsy.

And you still have two blocks to go.

***

If you ever find yourself in this position, this is what you have to do: you have to ignore every voice and every urge within you except the most important one, the one that is going to save your sorry ass. You set aside your anger at having put yourself in this situation, you ignore the pure stupidity of having gone out unprepared and coming back too late to catch that bus. Most important of all: you ignore that urge to stop and lie down and give in to it. The only thing that is going to get you through this is to obsessively listen to the one voice inside of you that is still brave or crazy or stupid enough to say

this
is
NOT
how it ends

Stay focused on that one voice, even if it is small and weak and tired, and you keep going and you keep going and you keep going until you get home. You get that door open even though you can’t use your fingers anymore and you get inside and you spend the next 90 minutes warming up.

Maybe the next day you might need to go to the emergency room. You might lose a couple of toes. If you are as lucky as I am, you get away with only a couple of frozen fingertips that, even decades later, still turn blue and cold looking at the slightest drop in temperature.

And you live. And Spring eventually arrives. And you never forget your damned gloves again.

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