What lesson do you learn from the story of an astrologer's day?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One lesson to be learned from "An Astrologer's Day" is that there are many poor and ignorant underprivileged people who have hidden talents which can blossom if their circumstances change. The astrologer in this story was forced to flee to a city from his little village.

He had left his village without any previous thought or plan. If he had continued there he would have  carried on the work of his forefathers namely, tilling the land, living, marrying, and ripening in his cornfield and ancestral home. But that was not to be.

He is an interesting and admirable character because he arrived in the big, strange city with nothing but the clothes on his back. He was a peasant. He had no education and no trade. He had to survive somehow. He must have become an astrologer on an impulse, just to pick up a few coins so that he could buy a little food. He discovered that he had a talent for his new profession. Soon he became "street smart." He was successful enough to acquire some sort of little home, and then he got married and had a child. No doubt there would be more children to come, and he would have to hustle to support himself and his family. His children would grow up as urbanites.

What is especially interesting is that he didn't have a plan. Things just happened to him. The so-called "professional equipment" he uses to attract and impress passers-by was undoubtedly all acquired second-hand, or third-hand. He may have just found them abandoned somewhere by one of the many other astrologers who had given up or died of starvation.

The story is somewhat reminiscent of the well-known poem by Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," which contains this stanza:

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
      The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
       And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Everybody has to find a way to survive, and no one can be sure of surviving, even if he seems to have a secure position in the world. The astrologer has managed to survive thus far, and he has even gone through a life-threatening ordeal today. But he knows he must live from day to day and that there is no way of knowing what is going to happen tomorrow.


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