As I was on my way to work this morning, I hit delay after delay. I had left the house later than usual to begin with, and I was stopped by every light. Not merely pulling up to a red light, rather having a light turn yellow as I approached. I’m not one to speed through light changes, but on a 50cc scooter I don’t have the capability of speeding through anything. At best I can push the limits of school zone speeds, provided the school was not built on a hill.
These are the times I find it tempting to shake my fist at the universe, the cosmos, the fractals of chaos shaping themselves into order… let’s just say anything that can stir the pot of events and circumstances outside my own actions in some seemingly logical pattern formed from spite and vindictiveness. However, my spiritual position and predilection for introspective accountability always wants to find meaning in these circumstances. I indignantly cross my arms while waiting at one of the light changes and brazenly declare that nothing is coincidence, that everything is design.
So now to find my way out of the labyrinth created by the ants of my thoughts. Somewhere deep within the bowels of my thought terrain lies the queen, laying her eggs to be tended and hatched into insights, once the emotional flood waters have receded. Why would I be late? What purpose is my tardiness and compounded delays serving? If I create my reality, if my outer landscape is a reflection of my inner vista, if my thoughts and emotions manifest the events that unfold before me…
Wait. I find a loophole. Mercury is in retrograde. For the astrologically inclined, whenever the planet Mercury appears to be traveling in the opposite direction, thus in retrograde, it is said that a myriad of mishaps can be expected, in particular mechanical, electronic, or otherwise inanimate objects made by humans to appear animate by some means. Cars may break down, buses and trains may tend to run late. Computers may shut off at random. Gary Busey marathons might appear more often on your favorite syndicated network.
Anyone who knows me has heard the weight-ladened sigh I emit with the idea of dumping all our mechanical mishaps in the wheelbarrow labeled “Mercury in Retrograde”. It seems all too often an excuse for us to throw up our hands and blame our dissatisfactions on the directions of the heavenly bodies at any given time, which planets lived in the same apartment complexes at the time of our birth. When we point in the sky and attribute that planet in that constellation at that moment for our trials and tribulations, we eschew personal responsibility for our lives, for our own circumstances. The stars and planets become easy patsies. They’re conveniently very far away.
At the same time, I can’t cast aside the possibility of planetary influence. The moon can yank at entire oceans from its seat in its orbit over 300,000 miles out. What kind of force might a planet like Jupiter, more than 10 times the size of our rock, exert on us? Maybe there is something to Mercury’s moonwalk causing the toy soldiers of inconvenience to cordon off the path of least resistance.
Oy. This tug-of-war between my idea of personal reality creationism vs. the esoteric mechanics of reality. Mercury has no axe to grind with me. I did not have an affair with any planet with which it is related. Mercury is just Mercurying around the sun, minding its own business. But before I can shrug and scoot away, I remind myself of my unwavering, resolute conviction that nothing is merely coincidence.
From this perspective: The full moon is known to pull at our emotions, causing them to swell like the sea waters. Yet we do not express emotions we do not have running deep beneath our surface already. The headmaster of logic makes sure our emotions keep their feet flat on the floor and our heads on our desk, but when the full moon comes the substitute gets called in and our emotions become more unrestrained, unleashing loud laughter and spitballs and book reports… the kind of report from a book dropped flat to the floor from desk level.
Perhaps when Mercury plays out like a scene from Paris, Texas it is simply drawing out the delays and mishaps and malfunctions we need to draw to the surface. If every car with a dead battery indicates our own life stalled, if every sticky front door indicates our hesitation to make necessary transitions in our lives, perhaps this is that cycle, that rhythm that is designed to flush out the lessons we need to learn, the impediments we deliberately need to place in our own way so we are forced to change direction.
This all occurred to me at nearly the halfway point on my route to work. No matter how much I stressed and fumed and cursed the vindictive yellow lights, I would still be late, a tardiness I created by my own hand. A lateness born from an assortment of choices I made and actions I had taken before leaving the house. I created my delays to provide myself the illumination that the events in my life will unfold in their due time. I accepted that and relaxed.
From that point forward, I made it through every green light without stopping. And I got to work late.