False optimism in the face of dark realities

I was in the U.S. in early March when news of this current pandemic was starting to hit home here in North America.

On one of the connecting flights I had taken at the start of my trip, a young woman across the aisle was coughing frequently. A flight attendant came over and offered her a mask to wear for the duration of the trip.

The Target across from the hotel I was staying at quickly sold out of hand sanitizer, wipes, masks, gloves. People were telling their kids not to touch anything unless they had to.

To be honest, I felt oddly reassured about seeing so much concern.

I have always lived in the same city and over the last 15 years or so, this city has expanded like never before. Rush hour seems to last all day now. Every subway train or bus I take is full. It no longer feels like a reasonable expectation to get a seat on the subway. I leave home way earlier than I need to if I have to be somewhere on time, because it takes so much longer to get around than it used it.

It all leads to a lot of closeness with strangers. When you spend enough time on public transit, you start to figure out the best vantage points on a subway car to maintain some kind of personal space – if you have the choice to move around at all. Because eventually, someone will cough right in your direction. Or in your hair.

If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you’ll know this, too. I have all kinds of stories from my time in retail. When I worked at a big-box bookstore, it was commonplace for customers to leave their used Kleenexes on top of the display tables or bookshelves. Guess who had to clean them up?

Last fall, I got rid of the shared office space I was renting out for private readings and transitioned everything online. I was already doing online appointments, but I had a hefty local client base that was used to seeing me in person. I had a lot of reasons for making the change – though the pandemic has given me a new reason to trust in the decision even more.

And in my practice, I’ve had a lot of people sit across from me with runny noses and coughs. Yet it’s hard to maintain physical distancing if you’re reading tarot at a party, or crammed into close quarters at the back of a store or a small office.

I’ve always been aware of the closeness of strangers because living in a city has made me this way. When you start to think about it, you are intimately connected to thousands of people through the things you touch and the spaces you move through and the air you share.

So my attitude towards the pandemic is shaped by my geography and the conditioning of urban environments.

And my attitude towards it is the same now as when it started: I don’t have a good feeling about this.

Recently, someone chided me for being pessimistic because I was worried about how many people I continue to see outside coughing openly in the air, on the sidewalks and park trails near me. They have no masks, and make no effort to cover their mouths.

Can you blame me for being a bit nervous about that? To be honest, I would have been leery about that no matter what year it was, pandemic or no pandemic.

In my neck of the woods, we are re-opening businesses even though the numbers don’t add up to allow for that.

Suddenly, the messages we’re hearing are very different from what they were in March. A couple months ago, we were being told to stay home and only go out if it was necessary.

Now, with still hundreds of new cases being reported daily in my province, we are moving to re-open more businesses. Some of my friends who own local shops here have decided to stay closed, fearing for their own health and safety, as well as that of their staff.

On April 4, the Jupiter Pluto conjunction went exact, introducing a new vibration into the collective unfolding of this story we are all in.

Pluto is death and transformation, and Jupiter is optimism and expansion. This combination can feed into tendencies to say, “It’s not so bad,” or, “Maybe this isn’t such a big deal.” It can cause false optimism in the face of dark realities.

Pluto Jupiter conjunctions have also been present in past pandemics.

With both planets retrograde in Capricorn at this time, there can also be a longing to return to “normal” through that lens of optimism that things can go back to being business as usual and all will be well.

The thing that is important to remember is that we all have a responsibility to ourselves, and each other. There is a lot of talk about “my rights” and “my freedoms” right now, but there must also be a willingness to put care and consideration into helping to heal and sustain the world we want to live in.

Sometimes, as a society, we want a lot without questioning what those privileges require of us.

And sometimes, that care and consideration asks that we bring awareness to our blind spots, not push them away and hope they will disappear. Jupiter and Pluto will be conjunct two more times this year, so there is a bigger story to this that is just starting to unfold.

Today, as I’m writing this, Neptune and Mercury are also squaring off, which can also create confusion, conspiracy theories and mixed messages in the collective.

It can be difficult to navigate when the organized efforts we had earlier this season are now splitting apart and going off in all sorts of new directions.

Now, I’m not saying not to have hope at all. But what I am advising this week, and for the weeks to come, is to move with caution, take it slow, and wait to see what the lay of the land is before rushing back to business as usual.

Take care and stay safe.

Until next time,

Liz xo

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