On Being Late

Aquarius and the New Moon

For the 128th time this school year (I may be exaggerating), I am signing my kids in after the bell. We’re late again. The receptionist greets me with a “Hi, Sweetie” and, like usual, never gives me the slightest inkling that I should feel shame for being late, which is such a relief.

There are a few others mothers nearby as I ask in a loud, yet light-toned voice, “Alex,” the receptionist’s name is Alex, “who should I talk to about changing the school’s start time to better accommodate the needs of my family? Because if it started at 8:30 instead of 8:15, we’d always be on time.”

She laughs with me as other mothers nod their heads.

“I mean, it’s not me. I’m always on time,” I joke, implying the blame should rest firmly on my children’s shoulders. We all laugh in understanding and commiseration.

But on the drive home, I am reflecting on whether I create reasons for my kids to feel a sense of shame for being late, unlike the school receptionist who seems to look on without judgment for anyone. Do I stress my daughters out by trying to get out of the door on time “for once”? How am I fostering anxiety – or even shame – in this daily tug-of-war to hit the road by 8 AM, which is an ungodly time to have to get on the road with children every day if you ask me?

Why does being on time matter?

Our society was pretty much built on chronological time. Ever since the Enlightenment philosophers likened our beautiful, complex universe to a mechanical clock, we’ve been bullied into being productive, punctual, and efficient in every corner of our lives, like well-oiled cogs in a machine. Only artists, poets, vagabonds, and ne’er-do-wells have consciously or unfortunately escaped the tick-tock incessant rhythm of the mechanical capitalist works, in order to live in a nonlinear, uncalculated world of time.

We are told by teachers, parents, and bosses that being on time shows proper respect and encourages responsibility. I myself have been on time most of my life - my adult life anyway - until I succumbed to perpetual lateness when motherhood forced me to surrender my own rigid timeline agendas. Children do not experience clock time. And this is a good thing. My kids remind me of something vital about time that has nothing to do with a clock: being present.

The Sun is currently moving through the astrological sign of Aquarius and our New Moon today is held in this energy. This sign deals quite a bit with the theme of time. First, from the standpoint that Saturn, the planet of managing tasks and time, is its ancient ruler, Aquarius feels that timing is everything. Secondly, from its disposition toward visionary, future-tripping, wild-time journeyer, Aquarius is always looking for ways to subvert time.

“Wild Time” is the other kind of time according to the Greek philosophers. There’s chronos – linear or chronological time – the time of Order which tells us when things happen. Then there’s kairos – the sacred time, time out of time, the time that contains revelations and ordains presence to the All – which has nothing to do with when things happen. Kairos is the time of Chaos, creation, and inspiration. It happens sporadically, when it wants to, when it’s time. It cannot be controlled or rushed.

Aquarians can be impatient with chronological time, wishing for things to appear as it does in their visions. Those with planets in Aquarius vibrate to a quicker frequency than can put them “in the flow” of life, but can just as easily make them feel out of place with linear, clock-time reality.

With the New Moon in Aquarius today, which marks the Lunar New Year as well as Lunar Imbolc we can tap into our own rhythms and find out what inspires and reinvigorates our vision. Do you have a vision for the future, a big dream that comes to your lips whenever you see a shooting star? It can be a vision for your current relationship, your home, your work, or the whole world. Wherever 19 degrees Aquarius lives in your chart can give you a clue about the kind of big vision ready to begin its journey toward becoming real.

Being late may make you or others anxious, but maybe our attachment to clock-time is the real cause of anxiety. That famous bible passage turned 60s musical hit tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” which is another way of telling us to relax and let things unfold. It’s not that I’m encouraging all of us to be late, rather I am questioning the foundations upon which our beliefs about time have been built. To whom are we showing respect when we are on time, and could it be that our respect is simply being channeled elsewhere when we are late?

The ways of being “in time” (rather than “on time”) are as complex and various as the countless cultures that have existed throughout the ages. The allegiance to the clock is a fairly new manifestation of time, and one that is used as a tool of colonization and cultural oppression, I might add.

Being “in time” sometimes means allowing events to unfold without trying to control them. Wow, is that hard. Am I doing my children a disservice when I urge them to be on time – or am I dooming them to failure in a world that values punctuality over presence? It’s a struggle. But I’d rather cultivate the sense of being “in time” rather than “on time.”

The sign of Aquarius is intimately concerned with the endeavor of how to be present rather than frustrated at how slowly things are happening. The month of Aquarius and its New Moon today can provide us with numerous teachings on how to be in the flow of time. Always the rebels, Aquarius may help us revolt against the tyranny of chronological time and accept that being late to things may be a sign that you’re way ahead of your time. Use the New Moon in Aquarius to tap into your own inner genius, the part of you that may be a bit odd and eccentric but holds a vital piece of our collective puzzle.