I’ve always been fascinated with astrological predictions, by how one’s character and fortunes are supposed to be influenced by one’s precise time of birth and the positions of the planets in relation to the stars. Indeed, astrology, the science from which horoscopes proceed, justifies to the average level of human understanding the existence of the stars and planets as they relate to life on earth.
Notwithstanding this personal fascination with all that, I don’t consult my horoscope daily, or with any such religious fervor as some people I know do. I take my own horoscope once yearly, and by midyear I tend to have forgotten much of it, and I’m left to live by its residual remembrance. Still, it is to me a heads-up of sorts on the future.
I was born on Feb. 7 and, without a doubt, an Aquarian. But curiously, on that year, the seventh fell on the last day of the Year of the Rabbit and, on other years, on the first day of the Dragon. I took that to mean that I had a choice which Chinese zodiac animal to be and I invariably chose the one which was predicted to have a better fortune for the year.
Apparently it doesn’t work that way—I’d be a freak switching if I did. According to my astrologer friends, I was more Rabbit in fortune and character. Anyway, I continue to read both—my two sons are a Dragon and a Rabbit. In fact, I usually end up reading the fortunes of all 12 zodiac animals, peeking into the futures of people whose signs I know.
When I was young and single, if I liked a particular guy, I’d check out his sign to see if it might be compatible with mine. As I got older I learned, of course, that in matters of the heart those things didn’t matter a whit, so I simply threw away unwelcome information, and hoped for the best. As it is, Vergel and I happen to be both Aquarians and, according to the charts of zodiac compatibility, are matched better with other signs.
Married and with kids and approaching my 40s, with some of life’s expectations remaining unfulfilled, I went with friends to fortunetellers. A favorite of ours was an aunt of a classmate who lived near the Paco cemetery. Looking back, I wonder if I would have been better off if I had gone instead to Father Parisi, the popular counselor for young couples at the time.
Religious standards discourage such a peek into the future. It’s a form of cheating. In truth, in the end, I didn’t let any manghuhula’s readings interfere with my personal decisions, thus committing my own mistakes. I remember those trips to our suki as simply fun, although many times she proved uncannily right about things she told about us, but again, we already knew those things ourselves, and others were safely vague.
Eventually I lost interest in fortunetellers, although remaining curious about the future, which today I still take year by year.
At any given year the Rabbit seems to be in luck, even in 2020, a leap year and the Year of the Rat, which had been predicted to be chaotic for the average Rabbit. It turned out, for me, an auspicious year—my 80th. I had planned a bigger than usual lunch; everything went well, and that was before all gatherings were banned because of the pandemic. For many of my friends, it was the last party they attended for the year.
Also, in March, a few days before the lockdown, my aqua-aerobics gang—Annabel, Linda, Nida, Celia—and Celia’s husband, Rene, and Vergel and I, and our teacher, Meya, went on a three-day vacation at Anvaya Cove. It was on our last night there that we heard the lockdown announcement. How’s that for timing?
Perhaps it’s true that Rabbits are luckier, with the possible exemption of the Pig, and have an easier life than most of the other zodiac animals; things could certainly have been worse for this Rabbit. There is a saying, with the usual humorous Spanish play on words, that explains how luck is randomly, fairly or unfairly, bestowed: “Algunos nacen con estrellas, otros, estrellados.”
My fortune in 2021, the Year of the Ox, is served with the usual generic stuff about career, fortune and wealth, except for certain specific warnings: if single, don’t marry, and, about health, exercise regularly.
I may be way past predictions now; perhaps everything has happened already. All this time, I may have felt like the captain of my ship, and master of my fate—with God’s grace and His stars, not mine, as guides. I’m too close to the docks now for anything to make a difference. It might be time for surprises, which I’ve always dreaded, and why I continue to read horoscopes.
I’m reminded of a story about Bob Hope, who lived past his 100th year in top humor. Discussions had arisen about where he should be laid to rest—he was, after all, eligible for Arlington National, having been an honorary member of the Armed Forces, or Forest Lawn which was closer to his home. When the question was left for him to decide, he said, “Surprise me!”
If I lived to a 100, I’d be myself my best surprise!