Choices and Choices


There are choices, and then there are choices.

There are 'Coke or Pepsi?' choices and 'Friends or Survivor?' choices. And then there are 'law school or art school?' choices and 'yes I'll marry you or no I won't' choices.

We think we know which are the life-changing choices and which are meaningless, but we can't really be sure. We think choosing one soft drink over another is irrelevant, until our Coke bottle cap is the $1 million jackpot winner or our Pepsi can has a syringe inside. We think choosing to study law or art will result in vastly different career paths, until years later we stumble upon our true calling in auto sales and either degree becomes an equally unnecessary piece of paper.

Ask an existentialist, and he will probably tell you that every choice is a life-changing one. Ask a hardcore religious adherent, and she might say that God makes all the choices. I believe every choice is important, and that the more in tune you become with your intuition, the clearer that revelation appears.

But I also believe that we cannot accurately predict what will unfold from our choices, even the most seemingly logically argued ones—as in, 'if the can says Pepsi, there will be Pepsi inside, and not a syringe.' Logic is a human faculty, but the non-human-centered universe doesn't necessarily play according to its rules. We make choices with the best of intentions. Life unfolds. There's some connection between our choices and the outcomes in life, but no one is exactly sure how it works. Choice always involves chance.

These are dynamic times, in case I need to remind anyone of this. I could make such a statement anytime and probably be considered correct, but this is not an empty insincere proposition. Compare, say, the recent periods of Sep-Nov 03 and Jan-Mar 04. Lots seemed to happen in late 03 but without 'going anywhere'. In the past three months, so much has happened, and we have definitely 'gone somewhere'. (Anyone care to disagree?) This is a result of Mars, Venus, Mercury and the Sun each concluding their zodiac cycle and moving into Aries, the sign of new beginnings, of physical force, pioneering leadership, forward movement and assertion of will.

Two weeks ago, when the Sun made its move across the boundary and conjoined the Moon in a first-degree-of-Aries New Moon, it moved this action-oriented phase into high gear, marking our entire year with this sense of self-defining force and movement. On Apr 19, a solar eclipse New Moon in the last degree of Aries (two New Moons in a row in the same sign are relatively uncommon) will seal the deal and prove the point. (Folks born near the Aries-Taurus cusp, what an upcoming year you'll be having!) To not take action now is to let unspent energy consume you in physically, mentally and spiritually unhealthy ways. More about this eclipse in the next couple weeks.

Then, add a lot of Gemini variability—and its pressing need for choice-making—to the Aries fire. As of now, both Mars and Venus are in the sign of the twins, so be forewarned that every situation has multiple meanings, multiple options and multiple possible outcomes. Sure, that's always the case, but now it's downright blatant. There will be two people flirting with you, two potential job offers, two right answers to the same question and two different outfits to wear to the party. Are you ready to make some choices?

The good news is that, for now, you can choose both. The better news is that the opportunities are so numerous, you can't help but choose something that will change your life in unexpected ways—and you don't know which choices will lead where, which are 'major' or 'minor'. Think of the next few months as an order of the sampler platter. Taste the potato skins, the mozzarella sticks and the jalapeño poppers without filling up with too much of one thing.

And this week, both Gemini-clad planetary actors make significant squares—90-degree angles that force two planets to work out conflicting energies—to other planets. Mars makes his square to Jupiter in Virgo, pushing for experimentation as a necessary step in expanding the borders of categories we use to make sense of the world. How can we expect to broaden our analytic abilities without adding to the variety of experiences under our belts? Of course, just because we try something out, that doesn't make us experts, so watch for the bloated self-importance that can come with Mars-Jupiter contacts.

Venus, meanwhile, tackles Uranus with her square, delighting in multiplicity of social (and romantic?) connections that foster independence, individuality and unconventional relationship forms. Venus is really the planet to watch here, since she will be hanging out in Gemini through early August, thanks to a 6-week retrograde in May and June. (Lots more about Venus in coming weeks.) Colorful characters will likely pop in and out of our lives over the next few months. Some will provide lasting attachments, others have simply dropped in to shake us out of monotony and create change.

This social (and romantic?) overstimulation requires faith in our interpersonal affiliations—the long-standing bonds, the fleeting flirtations, the five-minute checkout-line chats that alter the entire direction of our lives—because part of staying current with people involves letting go. If and when folks are supposed to be in each other's lives, they are. Holding on tight is just about the worst thing you can do when Gemini influence is heightened. Moisten your mouth for months of chitting and chatting (and kissing?).

Oh, yeah, and to add to the outrageously active astrological scene, Mercury does indeed turn retrograde this Tuesday Apr 6 and stays backwardly minded through the end of the month. Mercury had just popped his head into Taurus, but the planets had something else in mind, so back to Aries he goes. Our minds were so almost ready to switch to a more grounded, stable and materially practical way of thinking—but not quite. No, there are still fast-moving, fresh-starting, call-for-action insights that begged for this retrograde period so they could insert themselves when least expected.

As I mentioned last week, I sense this particular retrograde go-around may cause a few more communication and transportation snafus than the usual Merc-retro sensation. (Traversing back over a cusp, in conjunction with an eclipse, can have that effect.) But I'm also looking forward to this one more than usual. Its discombobulating influence will combine with the Gemini miscellany for some unusual examples of chance inspiration. The extra-long waits in line might spawn some poetic encounters with strangers. The staticky cell-phone calls or downed email systems could lead to more quirky and delightful modes of communication (message in a bottle, anyone?).

And, most exciting of all, one person's Merc-retro 'mistake'—like hiring the 'wrong' person for the job or taking the 'wrong' road—may be another's lucky day. (I'll take the job!)

More than ever, we simply don't know what the effects of our choices will be… which makes it all the more fun to play around with them.

Have fun, and have faith. After all, most Pepsi cans don't have syringes in 'em. But when's the last time you had a Fresca?