You’re Not Imagining It—Mercury’s in Retrograde

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You’re Not Imagining It—Mercury’s in Retrograde
Photo: Grosescu Alberto Mihai/Shutterstock; Lindsey Lanquist.

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On March 5, Mercury will go retrograde in Pisces, returning on March 28. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about—Mercury retrograde is when Mercury passes earth in its rotation around the sun. This gives the illusion that Mercury is moving backward—it isn’t. Honey, she only goes one way: forward. As a result of Mercury’s movement, things like communication and technology are affected. And strange, random occurrences abound—like running into your high school English teacher at the mall.

Here’s the thing about Mercury retrograde: We don’t have to like it. And that’s true of a million things as well—cough medicine, moving, leaving your lunch at home, spilling salsa on your favorite shirt. One of the cool things about being human is that we get to have convoluted feelings and spend the rest of the time trying to bury them with distractions or cocktails or a very expensive boot collection (guilty as charged).

But Mercury retrograde has a way of bringing it all to the surface. As we all know, eventually, we have to face the darker parts of ourselves. The parts that we look at sideways, not really willing to admit that our need for attention is the only way we feel validated. That we date emotionally unavailable people because we ourselves don’t know how to show up.

I used to think that Mercury retrograde was about avoiding contracts and technology while I waited for the world to right itself. But at a certain point, I realized Mercury retrograde is just a metaphor for dealing with a deck that isn’t stacked in our favor. It’s easy to talk shit about hard things. It’s much harder to admit that we need these hard times, these moments of indecision and heartbreak.

Because living our lives only at the perfect time is a great way to spend your existence just…waiting. Mercury retrograde happens four times a year. It doesn’t care about things like birthdays and deadlines and read receipts.

I have a friend who once told me that she believed that all we were responsible for in this life was dealing with the cards as they were dealt—jokers and kings and everything in between. This Mercury retrograde, what if that’s what we did? Just dealt with our shit as it was. Sit without solving. Without the distraction of someone cute or comfortable.

We still don’t have to like it. I certainly don’t. Sitting still and taking up space makes me feel like I am literally dying. But the truth is, we can only shift pain and suffering. It’s like mass—it can’t be created or destroyed. So this Mercury retrograde, let’s all breathe in and stay still. Given that Mercury rules communication, think about digging inward. Letting the conversation be straightforward and honest. “I feel sad because the last time I saw my dad I noticed more gray in his hair and it scared me.” “I feel happy whenever one of my students smiles back at me.” “I don’t know how I feel, but I’m going to sit here and not force anything until I can fully breathe again.”

When my friend talked to me about cards, she told me, “Overall, I think we were dealt pretty good ones.” And I agreed. We were sitting under a giant oak tree. I could see the moon even in bright light of day. Everything looked beautiful and I still felt sad and all I could think of was that pain is a teacher. Just like Mercury retrograde. And for what it’s worth—I still don’t fucking like it.