The grumbling began as soon as Mrs. Morris announced that a ten page research paper would be due in three weeks. When she began explaining the assignment, however, the low rumble which had begun in the back, with the usual underperformers, began to spread rapidly toward the front seats until even the writing nerds, who loved assignments of this scope, were murmuring.
I wasn’t really paying attention due to my brain being split between working out a kink in my schedule, and rehearsing a speech I intended to deliver to my mother later in the day to get my younger sister out of hot water—again.
As the chaos flowed about me, I was brought back to the present when the kid in the seat behind me jabbed my ribs and hissed. “Can you believe this?”
Believe what, I asked myself? Trying to look like I was on top of the situation, while listening to as many bits of conversation as could, I was slow to respond. From what I could tell it was a mixed bag of emotions working its way around the room, and I didn’t want to give an answer prematurely as some of my classmates clearly saw this assignment as a waste of time, while a few of them were actually excited by it.
Mrs. Morris was walking up and down the aisles between the seats passing out papers containing the information necessary to complete the assignment. I reached up to receive mine while continuing to monitor the reactions of everyone around me. Glancing at the first page my forehead furrowed together in disbelief.
Tentatively raising my hand, I asked, “Mrs. Morris, what does the zodiac have to do with humanities?”
“I’m glad you asked that,” Mrs. Morris replied. “Settle down class. Janet has asked a very reasonable question.”
“In the dictionary," she began, "we find the definition of humanities: a branch of education where we investigate human culture, constructs, and concerns. The zodiac is believed by some to be a true and living force that controls the destinies of all, while others view it as mere myth and legend from ancient societies, who desired answers to question about the universe. While I do not necessarily believe in astrology myself, and you might not either, I want each of you to keep an open mind while working on this project. After all, part of humanities is learning to appreciate what other cultures have to offer.”
“So,” she continued, “in this assignment, you will research each of the signs in the zodiac. You will describe the traits of each, including its strengths and weaknesses. You will then research your own star sign, in depth, and decide whether or not the traits you possess match up with those you are supposed to have, according to your sign.”
Mrs. Morris dismissed the class and the buzz of discussion returned to its previous pitch. With mixed emotions, I fumed inwardly working my way through the maze of desks and clusters of students. Humanities was the last class of the day and as quickly as possible I headed toward the door, down the hall to my locker, and outside where I could think in peace.
A few blocks into my walk I became aware of pounding feet on the pavement, while two slightly winded young people caught up with me.
“Why didn’t you wait for us,” Emily asked, her curly brown hair falling into her face as she panted slightly.”
“Yeah,” her companion asked, catching his breath, “what’s up?”
“Oh, sorry,” I began, not wanting them to feel awkward, “I guess I’m off in my own world today. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“So—spill,” Emily prompted. “maybe it’ll help to talk about it. Besides,” she grinned impishly, “you know Kurt can’t wait to hear the latest gossip.”
Smoothing down his, wind-blown, sandy blond hair Kurt made a face at her.
Smirking, I rolled my eyes. Shaking my head at my two best friends as they fell into step beside me. The idea that Kurt wanted to hear gossip of any kind was the best joke I’d heard all day, and suddenly life was good again as I realized that of all my friends, I loved these two the best; they always knew how to make me smile.
By the time we reached Kurt’s house I had filled them in on the conflicts at home, and how uncomfortable it made me to have my family at odds with each other. I also brought them up to speed on the crazy project Mrs. Morris had given us.
“Well,” Emily responded as Kurt opened the door to let us in, “we can try to help you work out a battle plan for your personal problems, but you are the diplomat of your family. If you can’t calm things down no one can.”
“And what about the paper.” I grumbled half to myself, half to them, “I’ve never really believed in that stuff you know—Ugh,” I puffed out a sigh of exasperation, “of all the stupid subjects.”
“Hmm,” Emily mused, “You are supposed to keep an open mind, and you never know—just because it may be a myth doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting. Give it a chance.”
“Don’t look at me,” Kurt raised his hands as though to ward off evil spirits, “I never touch the stuff.”
“Fine,” I muttered pulling my computer onto my lap and typing in some key words. “I might as well get started.”
An hour later, Kurt jumped up and stretched noisily. “I’m starved,” he announced to no one in particular, “I’m pretty sure Mom made cookies yesterday. Do you guys want some?”
“Absolutely,” Emily responded without taking her eyes off her computer screen.
“Of course,” I answered with a smile, looking up at Kurt and making eye contact to ensure he knew I appreciated his offer.
Returning with a plate containing a variety of cookies Kurt plopped himself between us so we could all reach them.
Emily took three at once.
“Hey, it’ll save time reaching back and forth,” she defended herself when I raised an eyebrow and Kurt pretended to slap her hand.
“How’s your research coming,” Kurt asked, jamming the second half of his cookie into his mouth while picking his book up to search for the place he had lost?
“I don’t know,” I confessed, “I’ve got a list of traits that are supposed to be typical of my sign, but—”
“Let’s hear them then,” Emily responded.
“Okay,” I began, “Libra is an air sign—whatever that means. It is the most complex of the zodiac signs, and it’s ruled by Venus. I’m not sure if they mean Venus the planet, or Venus the goddess,” I continued, “I haven’t gotten that far yet.”
“I don’t know much about this stuff,” Kurt interjected, “but I think it’s the planet.”
“Cool,” I replied, making a notation on the page, “one less thing I need to look up.”
Clicking around in my notes I scanned the page before continuing. “Oh yes,” I went on, “according to this website, Libra’s enjoy harmony in all areas of life. They love beauty, are fair minded, idealistic, and seek balance in all things. Relationships are important to them. They don’t like conflict and are natural diplomats and negotiators. Other people may see them as indecisive, but they simply prefer to take their time to look at all sides of an issue before coming to conclusions.
Looking up I sighed, spreading my hands in a gesture of helplessness. “This is pointless,” I grimaced, “these traits could fit lots of people, not just the ones born between September 23rd and October 22nd, and I definitely don’t see most of these in me.”
I waited for their response—but it was crickets—
“What,” I asked defensively, when I looked up to see why neither of them had said anything, and read the looks on their faces.
“Are you kidding,” Emily asked? “That describes you exactly. What else does it say,” she asked as she pulled my computer off my lap and began reading my notes.
Before I could protest Emily was reading out loud from my notes.
“Libra’s have a talent for making everything harmonious,” she quipped. “While trying to compromise and cooperate with others they often wind up selling themselves short. Libra’s often find that they will blow up if they have made too many sacrifices, or when others refuse to play fair”
Emily and Kurt exchanged looks as she handed my computer back to me. “Boy, have they got your number,” she said cautiously, “you know, maybe there’s more to this than we thought.”
Looking to Kurt for someone to back me up I realized he was thinking the same things. I really didn’t want to believe any of this. I felt ridiculous and began to protest my innocence.
“Look,” Emily began, “it’s not that big a deal.”
“Yeah,” Kurt chimed in, “so you write your paper from the perspective that while a lot of these traits may reflect who you are, just like you said earlier, lots of people with different signs have the same or similar traits.”
“Okay,” I murmured, not totally convinced, but wanting to drop the subject as it was getting too close to home and I didn’t like it.
That was many years ago, and while I wrote that paper, and passed it off as coincidence that so many of those Libra traits fit me so closely, I am still not sure what I believe about birth signs and astrology as a science.
As a Libra I do love beauty in all things, and I feel best when my surroundings are in harmony. I do not like to be around contention or discord and I am, to a certain extent, a people pleaser who will go to great lengths to find compromises to keep life from getting too heated by other people’s emotions and passions. I can reach my limit, however, and will blow up with little or no warning if I feel taken advantage of by others, especially when I have tried hard to work with them for everyone’s good.
I’ve been told have impeccable taste and a classic style all my own. Delicate blues and lavender (which have always been my favorite colors) are said to represent Libra’s and suit their artistic sensibilities. The key words which describe a Libra are: Romantic, Charming, Idealistic, Seeker of Balance, and Fair. While I feel it would be slightly conceited to say I am charming, the others fit me quite accurately. Libra’s are patrons of the arts, especially in singing and dancing. I am a singer and I love to watch dance, especially ballet. I have a keen sense of justice and have always stood up for the underdog.
As I have grown and matured I have seen these traits develop and grow with me. It may be pure coincidence that I fill out the Libra tally sheet so completely, but then again perhaps it isn’t merely fate. Somewhere in the heavens our spirits were wrought, and likewise the earth and all of the celestial bodies with us. Each person must decide for themselves what level of belief they will put in things like zodiac signs, and the traits assigned to them. Someday, I believe we will have the answers to all of our questions. Until that day, I am content to wait, grateful that I have been blessed to be who I am.