Jupiter: Stories Of The World… Or Pattens In A Birth Chart?

“I recognize the pattern in this,” I explained to my husband in regards to the book, Five Years to Freedom: The True Story of a Vietnam POW.  “I’m starting to wonder if it might be universal or… er, have you ever heard there are only a certain number of stories in the world?”


“Well, I’ve heard that (from HQ a number of years ago). There are only a certain number of stories and they just replay and I don’t know if that is right or wrong but I do recognize the story in this book…  and I recognize it well, I’ve lived it.”

“How so, P?”

“What happens to him is exactly what happened to me.  He goes through some grueling time that takes him to edge as far as surviving goes but at various times he sees things improve. I mean he is starved and starved and starved and sick to the brink of death and then for some inexplicable reason they feed him a little more and at that point he’s relieved. He thinks he’s seen the worst and he’s made it.”


“But then the things degrade!  And almost invariably they degrade to a lower point then the one he’d seen before and it’s just mind-boggling. You thought you just got out of this shit and now you’re back in it worse then ever. This is exactly what happened to me too,” I said. “You think you have seen the absolute worst that could ever occur, things improve, you’ve survived and then BAM. Right back down for some new horror and it happens over and over and over. You almost can’t believe it and it’s fast. See, in his case they were trying to push their propaganda so at times they tried different approaches which meant he was treated differently in order to see if they could get the result they wanted.  Sometimes he got a little more food for example and they were so close to death at all time, a little more food was a big deal.”

“In his school they gave us  a little rice and a fish head,” he said.  “That was the only food.”

“Yeah, he ate even less than that most of the time but sometimes they give him a little more food for a short period of time so it made him think there has been some change and things were going to be better but then next thing you know he’s in dire straights again, just horrible, unimaginable and worse than before.  They also moved him a lot so he was constantly being transported and while it was never humane, he was very lucky not to die en route during some of the trips and no telling what the next camp is going to be like. Anyway, I have seen the exact same pattern in my life, right down to the nickel not once but twice so I just wonder if this is one of the stories in the world and I think it may be. It is the story of torture I guess. Torture and how the human spirit reacts to it. If you never have to live it, I guess that’s pretty lucky so this is what I am trying to figure out. Is this one of the stories in the world or is this a pattern I have in common with this guy?  Because I recognize the story and mine ended the same way his did, both times. One day a window opens and motherfucker,  you are gone.”

Do you recognize this story?

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Jupiter: Stories Of The World… Or Pattens In A Birth Chart? — 12 Comments

  1. I do think there are certain number of stories in the world and I do think that torture is one of them. And some survive to tell their story, and some don’t.

  2. As I was writing I thought of the women in an abusive relationship who continually thinks the beatings are going to stop and is continually shown otherwise and the abuse escalates of course… things degrade.

    That is a very similar story outside of the fact the person ignores the open window or is perhaps afraid to go through it.

    But once you lose your freedom by whatever means and someone decides to oppress you, I think this is the story from then on out until you can escape (or die) and it is such a bad story, you should avoid it at all costs which I try to tell people all the time but they think I’m… who knows what they think. Some of them may actually catch on.

  3. The image of the open window is so potent and poignant. Like, it’s just sitting there, open and waiting.

    In abusive relationships, I think, that one always thinks it’s going to stop — for years on end. One just hopes for the best. Or pretends it isn’t happening/mentally escapes/denial.

    When I was a child, I did not have the courage (is that the right word?) to run away. Maybe someone else (a different type of person) would have.

  4. I do. I thought I wouldn’t survive Act I (serious illness, break-up). In Act II (miscarriage, family cancer deaths, hysterectomy, leaving grad school, another break-up) I was too stunned to believe this was really happening. The opening of Act III was when I got fired from a job, and I gave up and threw everyone out of my life and then almost threw out my own life too.

    Act IV sure wasn’t much fun, but once I made a decision that I wanted a life again, I got serious and did a shitload of work. Within 18 months or so, I had it pretty together again.

    I agree with the mechanic, btw. There’s all kinds of theory about that: Lots of anthro/culture/lit types have identified a dozen or so standard narratives. I even have a writing book called “20 Master Plots.” I kinda wish I didn’t know this, though. Cuz now when I open a novel or a movie starts, I think in those terms. It can take the fun out of things.

  5. moonpluto… it can be really hard as a kid. sometimes you don’t know you’re big enough to climb out that window. or that, if you do, there’s anything better on the other side.

  6. I can relate, but not to that extent. I’ve been down in a hole, climbed up a bit, then fallen back in and find it’s deeper. Multiple times.
    I’ve also stared at the window wondering what in the hell it is instead of going through it or been oblivious that one was even there until someone whispered, “Hey, it’s over there!” in my ear.

  7. I recognise this story too .. and it is a Universal story. It is the ‘hero’s journey’ and we all undertake it to varying degrees. This book you are reading and sharing with us Elsa; it is the epitome of the Hero’s Journey don’t you think? And you too have undertaken your own Hero’s Journey (more than once I bet!), so it is no surprise that you identify with it so strongly. Joseph Campbell studied the world’s myths and legends his whole life, and wrote and talked on the subject extensively. It was from him I learned of the Hero’s Journey, and many other fascinating myths and legends that serve as universal and timeless themes that run through all our lives. He is one of my heroes!

  8. PLEASE!!! I have a grand cross going into a grand trine into a kite. I can’t figure out if it’s a comedy, tragedy, or love story.

  9. One day a window opens and motherfucker, you are gone.”

    Do you recognize this story?

    I do not recognize this story, but I felt for you as I was reading.

    To an extent or another I have been depressive all my life, wich I give it to my sun saturn,…..but it was always my very own personal struggle.
    I was never tortured, or in “preason”.
    My way out is, just as my way in, a saturn ruled path….slow and hard.
    There was never any windows poping out at once,….but the feelings of struggle that belong to the bad time, …they do live all at once, when you list aspect it (scorpio uranus)

  10. I’ve worked with people who have survived torture in other countries, as well as youth who are surviving torture in one form or another in their own homes. Resiliency of the human spirit is freaking unbelievable. I’m a firm believer that its inside every one of us… one has to tap that core. It doesn’t mean life will turn out rosy, but the spirit of the person, well, I’m talking too much here.

    I love your series on this book, Elsa… I’m going to have to read this one next.

  11. I recognize this story, but it isn`t my story. I feel I`ve had hardships but I have a keen sense that there are plenty others who have suffered more—
    Michele your post reminds me of that. I might be weird but I remind myself every day that I’m not being tortured/raped/worse. I’m grateful to be safe and the people who work to ensure my safety

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