“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heard from any old friends lately? Is your favorite so-called ‘social media’ site or app down? Any mixups or crossed-wires in your communications?

Well, there has to a scientific explanation for all these coincidences, right? I mean, how could it be that everything seems to go backwards and sideways at the same time for everyone?

Washington D.C. is in a quagmire. This morning Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are all down at the same time. (How often does that happen?) Someone just open copied me on an email with 200 addresses displayed.

Here’s my conundrum. See, I’m one of those wacky “Believes in Science” types. I’m suspicious of snake oil, allergic to propaganda, leery of conspiracy theories. To paraphrase Sgt. Joe Friday, the patron saint of B.S. detectors, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

But on the other hand… Reality isn’t exactly black and white. I notice patterns. I pay attention. And just because science or the academy hasn’t got to the bottom of a particular issue doesn’t mean I’m eager to deny the evidence in front of my face.

Case in point: The ephemeral influence of the planets. Astronomers and the rigidly-rational among us are quick to claim that there is no possible way that the movement or position of our surrounding heavenly bodies could have any real-world effect upon us ordinary earthlings or the technology we treasure.

And yet: Astrologers who track these movements can see these trials and tribulations coming a mile away. When Mercury, the planet attributed to ruling over electricity, technology, and communication, appears to move backwards in the sky, these things predictably go haywire.

I’ve never been able to figure out why my Leo friends act as if the world revolves around them. Or why my Scorpio companions seem to have a deep undercurrent of passion that they keep to themselves. Why Virgo’s are so good at organizing things.

Whenever I’m faced with cognitive dissonance like this, I harken back to one of the go-to quotes used by my old friend Terence McKenna. He was fond of repeating the words of J.S. Haldane, something to the effect of, “Things aren’t stranger than we suppose, they’re stranger than we CAN suppose.

Sometimes we just have to leave it at that. One of the beauties of the human experience is our ability to embrace paradox. To simultaneously hold two opposing sets of facts or viewpoints at once and not let our brains explode.

So what does the conventional wisdom of the woo-woo say to do? It’s time to finish things and close open loops. Not a great time to launch new projects or sign deals. Take the ‘re’ in retrograde literally. Re-visit, re-turn, re-iterate.

Over the years I’ve learned to embrace Merc-Retro head on. I used to dread it and use it as an excuse like so many people do. Now I hardly need to look on the calendar to know it’s coming, I can usually feel it in the air. It happens about three times a year.

Mercury kicks into reverse for about three weeks each time. Things tend to start getting crazy a bit before and the effects can linger into the days after. A quick peek into your favorite search engine will tell you the dates in a flash.

That part of our universe that owes no explanation to science or reason provides us with a regular opportunity to clean up our loose ends, catch up with long lost friends, and wipe the slate of our lives clean before the next forward push.

So be careful out there! Watch yourself behind the wheel, make sure everything is backed up, and check those email headers before you press send! Don’t bother trying to figure out why this happens, just go with the flow and be prepared.

The main point is to be present. At no other time is it so important to simply ‘be here now’. The preoccupied or distracted mind is an easy target for the gremlins of Merc-Retro to sneak in and throw sand in your gears.

Maybe one day the big brains of science will have an answer, till then we simply have to accept the inexplicable at face value. Of course, if you’d like to test your rational mind against the cosmos, just install some new software or drive with your engine light on and see how that goes.

Keep smiling and I’ll see you next week! Much love till next Monday!

M+

PS: That’s me getting a head start on Merc-Retro by looking up an old friend in Santa Rosa in the photo above.

Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

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