The planet Saturn takes exactly 29.5 years to return to the same point it was the moment you were born. Astronomically speaking, this is simply the amount of time it takes Saturn to swing around its elliptical orbit before making another valiant go of it. The entire concept can be drawn out in logarithmic tables and charted out to within twelve decimals of exactness. Astrologically speaking, the Saturn Return is a sort of metaphysical puberty, that is, the point at which someone’s been around long enough to be completely called an adult. Theorist of Deep Woo, with names like Skye and Merlin and Ram have written exhaustive treatises explaining how the moments between the ages of 28 and 30 will be the period during which a person undergoes the most rapid succession of changes of their life. Relationships are ruined, jobs are left, educations are resurrected, entire lifestyles and attitudes are set ablaze... the cacophony of change is as rapid as it is powerful. According to these new age Noam Chomskys, the Saturn Return is as inevitable as it is inescapable.
So here I am sitting at a river mouth five days South of the Tropic of Cancer wondering why my Saturn hasn’t returned. Maybe it got lost on the way? Maybe it stopped for whiskey on the way and lost track of time? Maybe it got pulled over by the cops for having a broken taillight and when they ran its ID, an old warrant popped up? Maybe my poor dear Saturn Return is rotting in some jail somewhere eating baloney sandwiches and lamenting the fact that the massive changes it had planned for my life are all sitting in a manila envelope behind the booking counter?
In any event, it either hasn’t arrived or if it did, I inadvertently put it on backwards, ‘cuz damn, as I look back at my life, I’m more like a 15 year old now then when I was 15. It’s entirely possible that not only am I not getting more mature and wise, I’m actually getting younger and more naive. The other night, as I turned 30 with a flask of Jameson in my mitt and a stack of new nature guides on my knees, I had the sudden revelation that aside from gaining 6 pounds and losing most of my hair, nothing has really changed in my life. When I was 15, all I wanted to do was surf, go to punk shows and travel. And of course foment revolutionary war in the US. I lived out of vans, read books by dead European anarchists, listened to the Subhumans and surfed my brains out in the most amazing places in North America. Now, on my 30th birthday, I’m living out of an old truck on one of the best point breaks in the world. I listened to The Day the Country Died twice and am wishing like hell me and KK and Jefe and Burke-O and Erik and TT and the crew could be out watching Poison Idea play with the Cro Mags and the Dog Faced Hermans at the Old X Ray cafe on Burnside. I just finished Jeanette Winterson’s LIGHTHOUSE KEEPING and am fully ready to dust off the torches and the pitchforks and follow that brilliant woman into insurgency.
Sure, being 15 or it’s middle aged equivalent, isn’t all shits and giggles. The world baffles me more right now as it did back then. Even with 15 more years, hundreds of books, and hundreds of thousands of miles under my belt, I still don’t understand the world. I don’t understand how people can believe that a big grey haired Zeus looking motherfucker created the world in six days, just as I don’t understand how scientists can cling to the big bang theory, which is fraught with as much creationist bullshit as anything ever dreamt up by Jerry Falwell. I don’t understand how otherwise sweet, smart people can vote for anti-gay initiatives or join the military. The wide variety of humans I’ve met and things I’ve seen have anything but clarified matters.
A few days after my birthday and boom, here I am in Southern Mexico under a tin roof in a crumbling mechanics shop. The booster pump on my clutch went out and I’m here for the closest thing to religious ecstasy I know: watching Mexican mechanics work miracles with hopelessly ruined pieces of greasy plastic. I’m holding the flask of bathwater warm Jamesons while Jose and Javier cut and paste and engineer a replacement pump from scraps. The dear old Irish whiskey has lubricated our tongues and we’re chatting about life, love, regret and our respective lives. As it turns out, we’re all within a few months of our 30th birthdays. Jose got married and is trying to start his own business repairing brakes on semi-trucks. Javier just broke up with his girlfriend and is going to run a few kilos of coke up to college kids in Monterrey to pay for his passage to New Jersey. We talk about business and travels and I try and sing a very sloppily translated version of Born To Run before they turn the question on me. How is my life different now that I’m 30? I unload everything I told you about my missing Saturn Return and they both stop working and look at me with more than a little bit of intensity. Jose leans into me and says, “Y Que?”
I say “Y que I’m supposed to have a fucking clue about my life and the world and shit. At least that’s what all the new agers tell me...”
Jose steps back and says, “Are you happy? Do you want to be doing anything else?”
I get a bit miffed, take another swallow of whiskey and say. “Yeah. I’m happy as fuck. Give me good friends, good places and good hardcore shows and I’ll be the happiest motherfucker in the world.”
They both look at each other and then back at me. “So if you’re fucking happy, why bother changing anything, right? If your Saturn Return did show up, it’s probably just fuck everything up, right? What does it matter if you don’t understand everything in the world? If you knew everything in the world you’d either be Jesus Christo or a liar. We all just do what we can with what destino gives us. If you got good work, good friends and a city with tons of good hardcore shows fucking run with it. In the end, nothing else matters but happiness.”
Twenty minutes later, my two new pals had finished off creating, modifying, remodifying and finally installing a custom, handbuilt clutch pump, thus giving me further evidence that aside from Jeanette Winterson, Mexican mechanics are the closest things to divinity we got.
So now I’m clacking down the carretera with 7 Seconds blasting and wondering if my Saturn Return is missing or if I just outran it. Or, at the very least, if it’s possible to stay young until one dies...
-mike / chinookdiefirstyahoo.com