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A Papaya Grows in San Miguel

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I venture into the empty lot next door to empty my compost bucket. Normally the pile of organic refuse would draw rats, but my cat kills everything. Returning, I rinse the little blue compost bucket and, with a very Mexican flourish, throw the water outside my front door.

Lo and behold, several years ago, a remnant from this process, a papaya seed took root beside my door. I am ashamed to admit that I did nothing for it beyond watering it some half dozen times. I am happy to say that despite this neglect it has grown into a fine tree, whose fruit I have savored the handful of occasions its green papayas have blushed yellow. Someone told me that every time one of the papayas on his tree got close to ripe the rats ate it. But he doesn't have a cat like mine.

I stand my bicycle up on its back tire so that I can manipulate the handlebars enough to get in and out the door with it. Doing so I have for years now contended with the large leaves of the papaya tree, getting them caught in my spokes. But, following my policy of benign neglect, I have not pruned away those leaves.

Astrology is a language. Saying that you do not believe in astrology is like saying that you do not believe in English. It is a terminology, a way of describing things. Asking if astrology is true is like asking if Spanish is true.

I know very little about the subject except for a few things about my own natal chart, the positions of the planets at the time and place of my birth. Chief among these is that my Sun, Moon and Pluto were situated in the sky a few degrees of each other when I was born. That is, they were "conjunct.) The Sun is what you show to others; how you appear, your daylight presentation. The Moon is your private, interior, emotional world. Pluto is your tricky, outrageous, pull-the-rug-out-from-under-them side. Having these three planets conjunct means (among other things) that I am liable to be very up front with both my "private" emotions and my outrageous tendencies. I've been fond of saying, "You may not like me, but you know where I'm coming from." Many people have agreed on both counts.

Art by Peter Cranton

I was at an opening the other day, waiting to speak with the artist. The woman who was speaking with him on becoming aware of the fact that a few of his painting were of Nova Scotia, offered, apropo of nothing, "Our daughter was planning on moving to Nova Scotia, but moved to Chattanooga instead." After that innanity I cut in, mentioning that I had visited eastern Tennessee that summer and proceeded without compunction to commandeer the conversation, turning it towards something to do with art.

We gather together to pass the time and because when we were out on the African savannah it gave us a better probability of surviving. Pleasant hormones are released when we get approval from others. The comment about the daughter moving to Chattanooga only makes sense in these ancient, neurological terms. It has the same significance of dogs sniffing each other, seeking admission to the pack.


People put their best foot forward. For this we should generally be grateful. It makes society more pleasant. It's like getting dressed up before you attend wherever it is you're attending. The extent of my dressing up is putting on a button down shirt and a clean pair of long pants or shorts. Not knowing which is my best foot, I tend to jump into social situations with both.

My attitude towards society is much the same as my attitude towards my papaya tree or, for that matter, my cat, one of benign neglect. I take most people at face value, not spending much or any time trying to imagine what is going on below the surface, what is behind that best foot forward.

Don't get me wrong, I like people. I find almost everyone I meet very interesting. I am forever asking people to put their story down in words and to let me publish it as an article in this magazine. I like people, but I find very often, and very often the hard way, that they don't like or don't know themselves. This, I suspect, is because their Suns, Moons and Plutos are not conjunct, and so they are less familiar with their own shadowy interiors, less conversant with their outrageous tendencies. On closer inspection I am often disappointed. The part I didn't see at first, the foot, the leg that they have kept in the rear eventually can no longer bear the load and buckles.

My emotional naivete is most visible in my intimate relationships. I never claimed to be good at love, but I have learned that you cannot love someone more than they love themselves.

Sir Roger Scruton speaks about the difference between fantasy and imagination. Fantasy he says is an enhancement of reality that yet might provide satisfaction. Imagination, he says, is a different world, divorced from reality and satisfaction.

My relationships with significant others have been significantly enhanced by my fantasies. But fatefully comes the time when I have had to admit that the fantasy, the footing, the best foot forward, is not holding. I'm not sure where the unhappiness springs from, my side or hers or a combination of the two. I don't know what it says about me or her. Maybe I am too sensitive, predisposed by my own emotional immaturity to take her unhappiness to heart. Recently my daughter suggested this possibility to me and she knows me better than anyone.

"If you find yourself in a toxic situation, leave." - Buddhist adage

Alain de Boton, in a talk about the delusion of romantic love, asserts that we human beings, every one of us, are difficult to get along with. I suppose that's why nature gives us doses of pleasant hormones when people approve of us; to reward our sociability, to keep us in line, to keep the species going.

Today, returning from my bicycle ride, I noticed that the lower leaves of the papaya tree were all old and drying up. They were no longer contributing to, and in fact were detracting from, the vitality of the tree. I detached a couple. I cut the stems of a few more less ready to let go. Now, with the productive leaves all above head level, it's a lot easier to get in and out of the house. There is a good crop of papayas on the tree. Maybe, if I water it regularly, they will mature?


Dr David is looking for authors to contribute to San Miguel Sunday. He is also looking for people who want to add more meaning to their lives. See his new website below.

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