Have you been feeling a little off lately? Like everything that could possibly go wrong, is indubitably going wrong? Perhaps you went to put in a tampon and stuck a banana up there instead. Maybe you left the house without pants on, or drunk dialed your Mom instead of your girlfriend. Now, if you were about to assume responsibility for your actions; I want you to stop dead in your tracks because you don’t have to. Mercury is in retrograde and you can now blame everything on that, so you’re welcome.
You’ve probably heard your new age hipster friends talk about this. You may have asked them how their day was going and with an over the top eye roll they angrily responded: “Mercury is in retrograde, how do you think I am!?” They then proceeded to eat their vegan burrito as they listened to some band that you definitely haven’t heard of yet on their iPod.
Your response was probably been 1 of 2 things: 1.) Why am I friends with this person, and/or 2.) What the fuck does that even mean? In Lehman’s terms, when Mercury goes into retrograde, the planet slows down its orbit around the sun and gives the illusion that it’s moving backwards. The theory goes that while Mercury is in retrograde, some of its power is held back. Since Mercury governs such issues as communication, intellect, and transportation – a myriad of problems can begin to arise. Life as you know it becomes a shit storm of miscommunications, missed appointments, and less than favorable life experiences. As it’s a progression like anything else, one can begin to feel the effects of retrograde before the date of occurrence; and if those few extra days weren’t bad enough – retrograde typically lasts three weeks.
I started feeling a bit weird last week, but I didn’t give it much thought. Instead I attributed it to the sweltering temperatures and the inevitable lag between relocating and transitioning into real life. After two weeks of playing disc golf, drinking beer, and hiking to the topmost part of every mountain – I came to the realization that life couldn’t possibly be this simple. Surely, life wasn’t just about riding my bike, potlucks with friends, or doing headstands on the beach. Fuck, life is work; and I felt an urgency to get serious.
But instead of doing anything to appease this anxiety, god forbid I be a productive and actual human being, I laid around my abode in a puddle of pathetic sweat pondering my existence and occasionally drinking a PBR. I found out Mercury was indeed in retrograde and breathed a sigh of relief. “Knew it” I said to myself. I let the days pass twiddling my thumbs and cursing the planets for moving or not moving at their regular speed.
By the time Friday rolled around I was feeling pretty shitty. My friend texted me asking if I wanted to go on a hike and even though it was the absolute last thing I wanted to do this little voice in the back of my brain coerced me into saying yes. She wanted to hike four miles, I wanted to hike zero. I compromised with mileage but picked a hike I was familiar with, one with recognizable landmarks, and with an endpoint I knew would be worth it.
Turns out that part of the canyon wasn’t open yet (thanks Mercury) so we had to revise our plans. I decided we’d do a hike I’d done a few days before that led to a nice overlook of the entire Salt Lake Valley. We reached a fork in the trail leading in two different directions. I swore we were supposed to go left; a decision that only proved erroneous when I suddenly realized I had no idea where we were. The entire trail was uphill in a way I would have never agreed to do voluntarily. Two hours later the trail was hardly a foot wide and we were all too familiar with the feeling of brush on our shins and spider webs in our face. We came to a sign that said “Thayne’s Canyon” pointing back in the direction that we just came. I swore at that sign and asked if it was serious. We eventually got to a clearing that seemed like a natural end, and even if it wasn’t – it was our end.
This was Friday, and Saturday was a beast all her own. My housemate Crystal had been gone for over two weeks. Emily offered to pick her up from the airport, but when she came home all sorts of frazzled and needing to finish paperwork I immediately surrendered my services. “I’ll go grab her,” I said. “I don’t have anything else to do.” Emily said I should wait till a text saying she hit the tarmac, but I thought “Why not just try and beat the bullet.”
So armed with nothing besides knowing she was slated to land at 6 PM and was coming from Seattle, I left. I pulled into the Park & Wait on the dot and as the sign dictated: shut off my engine as no engine idling was allowed. This was fine for the first ten minutes until my iPhone informed me it was 104 degrees, and I started feeling like I was in a sweat lodge. I hoped that in my delusions I would see my spirit animal, since I didn’t know what it was yet. After a half an hour I considered that I was probably just sweating out toxins, so maybe I owed Crystal a sincere thank you. After forty-five minutes I recognized that if I was a pig I would have turned into bacon. Maybe a pig was my spirit animal?
I cursed myself for not listening to Emily, and about a hundred other things. However, the second I saw smiling Crystal, every single negative emotion dissipated in the matter of .05 seconds. As Mercury is related to transportation and things not going right, this seemed to fit my “Let’s Blame Mercury for Everything Plan” spot on.
The next day I woke up to a text pertaining to whether or not I wanted to go cliff jumping. The obvious answer “yes” was muted by the desire I had to just go back to sleep. I hit snooze several times before I acknowledged the fact I had to get up and make a decision. Around 11 AM I finally got my shit together and headed to my friend’s apartment. She offered to drive and as my car had hardly made it up Millcreek Canyon two days before I conceded. After a forty-five minute drive we were surrounded by mountains, and emerald waters. Sometimes I sit and think: “Fuck, I’m landlocked,” but then I see the shit I get as a consolation prize and I feel entirely okay.
After a day of mediocre front flips and sunbathing, I decided that my car sitting in the street wasn’t working for me. It’s kind of a lemon, I’m shocked it got me cross country, and I pretty much never want to be in it. For the most part is stays parked on the street and I hoof it everywhere whilst considering figuring out the public transit system.
I decided to buy a bike. I almost folded until my friend prompted me about how much I would save on gas. I mean I had been barely driving my car, but she was right – if I had the option I would peddle myself anywhere as opposed to driving. Salt Lake City is totally one of those places that it’s easier to bike around than drive. They also have a plethora of bike lanes which I decided if given the option, I would actually marry because they’re so goddamn convenient and great.
I rode around on my bike that night, and watched the sun as it set over downtown. We weren’t any place special, it was industrial even, but as I looked up at the sky I asked Mercury why it chooses to wreak havoc in our lives three times a year.
I couldn’t sum it up better than this: “Why would the Universe give us Mercury retrograde? Because to move forward it is sometimes necessary to backtrack and reconfigure our paths in life. It is important to reconsider, repair, reflect, and reconnect. Mercury forces us to slow down and fix what’s broken, and in so doing, rethink things.
It’s mighty easy and convenient to blame our bad days, miscommunications, and misfortunes on a planet that may or may not be moving backward. In the end, it’s you who gets to decide whether or not to do anything about it of simply fall victim to its path. This retrograde, I’m taking a stand. I’m telling mercury to go fuck itself. I’m telling it that life can indeed be as simple as biking everywhere you want to go. It can be as easy as finding people who make you happy and making it your business to be around them. Basically, long fucking story short – life can be whatever is it you want to make of it. It’s really…just that simple. We spend so much time complicating things when they aren’t really that complicated at all.
And it doesn’t matter if Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, or Saturn is moving upside down or sideways. If anything take Mercury in retrograde with stride –accept the shit that comes with and patiently wait it out. Use the time for good, to reconsider, repair, reflect, and reconnect. When your hipster friends complain about it, tell them to shut up and stop wearing the same glasses frames your Grandma has. Also tell them that it’s super annoying and uncool to think that everything is annoying and uncool and that listening to them talk about anything makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a fork.
But that, that is another blog entry for another day. Enjoy the rest of retrograde friends. Hang in there, and hang onto those hat. Unless you’re wearing a blossom hat, let that go.