Surprises Don't Always Just Come


We can, if we choose, be the proactive do-ers of surprise. The carriers-out of surprising behaviors. The ones who rear the sudden changes of heart, think on our feet, and alter the course of future events with a single, abrupt yank on the wheel.

Would we dare, then, to lament the unforeseen results, ramifications that will impact our lives going forward from this point? We were involved, after all. We can't justifiably cower in the corner, perched passively in the shadow of startling circumstances we claim we had nothing to do with creating.

We did something. We moved things along. We zagged instead of zigging. And that's that. It's done, and we can't go back.

Still, we didn't know what would come, after the fact of doing. We couldn't have known. It would have been impossible. And thus, we couldn't have planned for it.

By definition, the very nature of surprises prevents us from planning them. (I'm not talking about the surprise birthday party you throw for your sister. That doesn't count. You planned the party, so it was no surprise to you.) Surprises come in two basic varieties—(1) our own surprising behaviors, things we wouldn't have expected ourselves to say, think or do, and (2) startling circumstances that present themselves in no clear relation to anything we've done, like an earthquake or being laid off from a job due to corporate restructuring or a faraway relative's death. In astrological language, both types of surprises can be poignantly symbolized by a conjunction between Mars and Uranus, such as the one that applies with increasing influence over the week to an exact peak on Sunday.

Uranus is the rebellious, individuating teenager of the solar system, who insists on thumbing his nose at tradition whenever possible, to demonstrate the belief that we should all be free to do whatever we want. Uranus likes to push the envelope. Shake things up. Keep the substance of our lives fresh and vital. That way, we continue to grow and evolve, without getting too comfortable in routines and conventions that we stiffen and atrophy.

When Mars moves into conjunction with Uranus (as it does about once every two years), we are more physically compelled to seek out unconventional routes, methods and activities. Our bodies bustle toward breakout or breach. The electricity amps up and surges. It's time to shuffle the cards for a fresh hand. What will you be dealt? Surprise!

Some people don't like surprises. It upsets their sense of control. Ultimately, though, control is an illusion. We have a certain amount of control over certain things… but never total control, and never over everything. For instance, we can control our diet by saying we will never eat meat—but in some survivalist situation, where the choice is meat-eating or death, chances are that the animal-flesh option will suddenly sound appealing.

I've just given an extreme, macabre example, one that I hope never comes to pass for any of us… but it does illustrate how the seeming difference between the two types of surprises collapses in the end. Even startling circumstances that arise by no doing of our own—the natural disasters and macro-level conditions, events of others' doing—lead us to self-initiated surprising behaviors. Crises, after all, bring out the best, worst and most unusual in people, traits in them we might not have suspected judging from their day-to-day manner.

When Mars and Uranus conspire to pressure us into uncommon, nonconformist and/or idiosyncratic conduct, they will likely get their way. That's where astrology's role as helper comes in—offering us pre-knowledge, so we can try to pick the conduct ourselves, rather than be forced into it by type (2) surprises. Of course, as I said before, even when we consciously act differently on the spur of the moment, we don't know what the untypical result will be. So we can't necessarily opt for a certain surprise for any particular rational reason.

Especially considering that Mars conjoins Uranus in Pisces, our motivation in answering 'none of the above' may seem mysterious, moody, passive, paranoid, or otherwise unclear. It could feel like we are making some self-effacing sacrifice, moving in reverse, or applying dream logic. The point, though, is not to understand. Rather, it is to pay attention to a moment's infinite number of choices… and, when instinctively moved to, make a different choice. There are always reasons; results; chain reactions. We are not privy to a diagram of their interconnectedness.

Last time Mars conjoined Uranus, in Jun 2003, I suffered a devastating computer crash, losing all my business contacts info and some important writing projects. It was quintessential Mars-Uranus, and it led me to write something different that week and the following than I otherwise would have. What was my original article to be? Who remembers? Maybe that computer crash happened at just the right time, heading off another, more devastating crash that computer would have manifested at another time. The computer I'm typing on now is the brand-new replacement I received from my warranty coverage—am I supposed to have this one for some reason? At the last stressful Mars-Uranus aspect (a square) in Dec 2004, a world-changing earthquake and tsunami hit the Indian Ocean basin and over 250,000 people perished. When the anomaly of the waters receding presaged the giant wave, some ran toward the shore; others ran away. Certain someones altered their travel plans at the last minute—for whatever reason, or no reason at all—and lived or died because of it. Surprise!

The best advice to give for a Mars-Uranus week is to remain physically aware, to prevent careless actions from leading to inauspicious surprises. One textbook analysis of Mars conjunct Uranus is an increase in the potential for accidents… but on the brighter side, it also sharpens our reflexes. In the car, for example, Mars-Uranus can enable to swerve dexterously around the lunatic ahead of us, or it can deliver unwanted repercussions to our distracted fiddling with the stereo.

Heightened bodily anxiety or nervousness is also a possible side-effect. It could occur for no reason at all… or it could be a sign of impending fortune, danger or life-changing possibility. Pay attention to chances to do something differently.

Surprises don't always happen to us. Sometimes we happen to them. And we don't have to read them as good or bad. Maybe they're simply a means of changing direction. That said... be safe and fearless.