Friday, February 6, 2015

Don't Be Afraid of Mercury Retrograde

As I write this blog, we are sitting squarely in the middle of a Mercury Retrograde cycle that is playing havoc with my emotions regarding progress in my life’s goal areas. I am feeling this overwhelming urge to get things done – as of yesterday.

Yes, there are the usual Mercury Retrograde headaches – issues with electronics, unanticipated disagreements with friends and family, and scheduling glitches that create frustration.

But the angst about which I am referring is more a feeling of impatience and desire. It is being fed by the feeling that change needs to happen sooner – and in the manner in which I want it to occur.

However, as we know, life happens at its own pace. Our only control is a commitment to stay the course and follow through on the plans that we have made. Sometimes the stars are aligned in our favor and we experience smooth sailing in the direction of our dreams.

Other times, our life seems to be one big Mercury Retrograde imploding on itself regardless of who hard we attempt to stay in the flow and fight the good fight.

Ironically, that Mercury Retrograde period of our life is often just a blessing in disguise. In short what appears to be chaos can actually be an opportunity to slow down, look around, and do a little course-correction.

If you will allow me, I would like to tell you a brief story from my past that I feel effectively illustrates my point.

The story takes place in 1992. I was three years out of college and 25 years old. I was working for a small daily newspaper, but wasn’t loving my job. I found myself in an industry I felt was hypocritical and vindictive. The scary part is that I knew if I was going to make it in that field, I too would have to embrace these qualities.

I had great inner turmoil going on.

Fear of change told me to stay put and stick with what I knew. “The hours may suck, and the people with whom I have daily interactions can be assholes, but I can do this job with my eyes closed,” is how I rationalized my decision.

Keeping my focus in this direction, I stayed in that job for a while – a lot longer than I should have.

But, I couldn’t help the growing feeling of discontent that was welling up from inside. I didn’t want to admit that I was too much of a coward to enact a necessary change in my life. Even more so, I was angry at myself because I knew I was lying to myself and the world. I was becoming the very thing I despised about the business in which I worked. I was a hypocrite.

I toyed with the idea of going back to college for my master’s degree. I even applied to a couple programs. I was accepted to all of them, and was given the green light to start during the upcoming summer session. Despite this, I kept rationalizing to myself how things weren’t that bad and it was better (okay … safer) to stay put.

But the inner noise only got louder!!!!!

As is the case when one has inner challenges, I struggled to keep a lid on my feelings. My body language screamed volumes and my unconscious mind often allowed slips-of-the-tongue that angered the wrong people. “I didn’t care,” I told myself. And to a large extent that was the only truth I was speaking.

Eventually, my mood affected my effort and attitude. Not surprisingly, this affected my ability to keep my job (Hmm… Imagine that J.) In June of 1992 a metaphorical Mercury Retrograde descended on my life.  

I was called into my editor’s office and given a sheet of paper listing the multitude of concerns that the ‘powers-that-be’ had with my work. I was told I had 30 days to either shape up or ship out.

I gave my notice that day. And, oh, it felt so good. You know the feeling – it is the one that comes when you finally take a long-overdue action designed to release yourself from an unhealthy or counter-productive situation.

Three weeks later I was actively pursuing my master’s degree in education and began my first graduate-level class. It was so refreshing and so invigorating to be around people who welcomed new ideas and shared in the belief of a brighter tomorrow. Hands down, it was one of the very best decisions I have ever made. It was what I would call an example of a positive course correction.

Just like Temperance, the Tarot card we discussed in this month’s Fool’s Paradise, it is important that we realize that harmony in our life comes only after we have exercised the courage to honestly evaluate our lives and nurture the seeds of healthy progress. These seeds don’t grow over night and we often don’t even realize the need to plant them until we have wandered down the wrong path in life.

So when we encounter our own personal Mercury Retrogrades in life, it is important to look at them from the attitude of Temperance. Rather than turn and run or cower in fear, we can use these periods to correctly identify and pursue the course of action our higher selves want us to follow.