Recently I gave a talk to the student body of NW Academy, a special Portland high-school for the arts. The title of my talk was “Do What You Love and the Freedom Will Follow.” In it I mapped human life into three stages, corresponding to the astrological phenomena known as “Saturn returns” (see wiki on this).
Saturn has an elliptical orbit that takes from 28-30 years, so a person’s first “Saturn Return” comes to roost just before age 30, the second one culminates about age 59, and the third one around age 88. As Wikipedia (currently) puts it “It is believed by astrologers that as Saturn returns to the degree it occupied at the time of birth … a person crosses over a major threshold and into the next stage of life.” I discuss these ‘Saturn cycle stages’ in my speech, starting with the first one (the one most relevant to students).
Stage 1 — the first 29 years of life — is your primary “learning phase” — when you learn who you are, what you are good at, what you like to do. How should you go about all this? By experimenting, by taking chances (while you are young and daring … by trying things out!
It’s absurd, in my opinion, that we expect 18 or 19 year-olds to select and stick with “a major” or to focus on any kind of career at that age. Way premature! My general, if radical, advice to kids in their 20s is to NOT make major commitments — to career paths, organizations, or relationships (except under exceptional circumstances, of course). Plan on making the big commitments around age 30.
Instead, my advice to those in the student stage of life to take all different kinds of classes, read a lot of books, trek the world (there are low-budget ways to do this, or to work one’s way around) and, in general, job-hop to see what different types of work you might like. If you don’t try lots of different things, how are you going to discover parts of yourself that you couldn’t know before, possibly parts that your parents don’t approve of? The 20s are a time to individuate, not conform!
Next blog: Stage 2, your second Saturn cycle — time to do what you have discovered you love — and to do it with gusto!