Watching a Swiss episode of a BBC programme on great continental railways I could not help smiling. Those Swiss engineers are the best in the world. They managed to move a whole building (http://now.msn.com/swiss-move-262-foot-long-building-in-19-hour-trek) and they have built the most dense rail network in Europe, taming the wild and beautiful landscape of this country.
Having lived here for over two years now, I can’t help but notice the archetype of Virgo in every single sphere of Swiss life. Even the rural landscape, which I travel through every day on a train, is so neat and arranged into tiny patches of useful activity. There does not seem to be a single plot of land just left to its own devices. Everything must serve a useful purpose.
Everything works in Switzerland, which is, in my opinion, a direct result of the effective and practical political system. Direct democracy essentially means that every individual can influence and change the system. The initiatives really work because they are put forward by those who are closest to the process and see exactly why some things do not work and what needs to be changed. This bottom-up approach is typical of Virgo. There are no pointless laws or rules because everything is tested and retested. It amazes me that it is legal to download music and films here as long as it is for personal use. Leaving moral considerations aside, it just shows once again the pragmatism of the Swiss. Why introduce laws which would be impossible to be enforced?
The biggest church clock face of St Peter’s church in Europe is naturally located in Zurich. Where else? Time is so precious here and treated almost as a god. If you are not busy and overworked you are viewed as weird at best. Being late is a no-no. Trains work like, well, clockwork. I always smile while looking at timetables. Trains do leave at 8.59, 9.01, and so on.
Hardly anybody is unemployed. What is more, being unemployed here is the hardest job in the world. You are required to send off a large number of applications to potential employers and this takes up most of your free time. The system of apprenticeships is extremely practical and young people are not encouraged to go to university. They enter the job market very early and leave the parental home at a very early age. After all, Virgo is a sign that values independence and being able to earn one’s keep.
Weekends are spent doing sports, hiking, skiing, going to spas; in short, looking after one’s health. There is hardly any obesity.
I once asked some Swiss people that I know what they consider to be the most important Swiss characteristic. They said it was the quality of being bescheiden (modest). This is not a celebrity culture. Roger Federer is admired mainly for being modest and not arrogant. He would not dream of strutting his stuff here. I think the TV shows such as Big Brother or X-Factor have no place here. I do not meet people with big American dreams here (American dreams are the domain of Sagittarius, which squares Virgo). Most people love their jobs, however mundane they are. ‘What would you do, if you could not work in your present position in a purchasing department?’, I once asked another Swiss man that I know. ‘I would try to look for a similar job in another company,’ was his answer.
Another feature typical of Virgo is a multitude of small elements. In Switzerland, a relatively small country, there are four national languages and a large number of local dialects. Incredible and very much in the spirit of Virgo.
Every archetype has a dark side. What is the Swiss shadow? Virgo lacks the sociability gene. The Swiss, as a rule, are not the most open of the nationalities. Their initial mistrust and a clear lack of social graces (small talk is non-existent) may put a lot of foreigners off. Further, rules abound and they can be suffocating at times. Agreed, life is smooth and easy but from time to time the little voice in me whispers about the need to live, be crazy, let go and stop being so damn logical at all times. Controlling every single aspect of a process is not always healthy. Calculating every move kills spontaneity, I think.
Having said all of that, I love living here. I see myself as a person who is free at heart. I have never felt constricted here but I can understand why some people might feel that way. Perhaps at this juncture of my life I am in need of cleanliness, orderliness and punctuality. I admire the rich diversity of culture, numerous dialects, the fact that every single city is different and unique. The country seems to be built of tiny, distinct parts, like, well, a watch maybe. The fact is it was not hard for me to blend into this society, so maybe there is more Virgo in me than I would care to admit.