So Mercury’s gone retrograde again, the bogeyman of the astrologically-inclined. I myself have a fairly mixed track record when it comes to communications and technical glitches during such phases; I usually find I have more problems in the “slow” periods just before and after a retrograde, rather than during the retrograde itself. But in any case, I generally see astrological aspects and movements like this to be reflective of underlying currents of energy in the universe, rather than the direct causes of those currents, so I try not to hold it against ol’ Mercury himself.
But even more than that, I’m a big fan of making the most of those currents, so while Mercury retrograde is notorious for harboring miscommunications, it can also be an opportunity to become more mindful of our language.
At its best, this involves mindfulness on both sides of any communication. When we are speaking, we want to try to make sure we are expressing ourselves clearly, and that what we are saying is what we really mean. And when we are listening, we want to be mindful of where we might be misunderstanding what is being said. In emotionally charged conversations, it’s even more important to be mindful of the effects our words have on others, and of how much we may be reading into the other person’s words. Words don’t exist in a vacuum, and their effect on us is not entirely detached from our own inner state.
It helps to be aware of differences in the context and connotations of words – something may seem contradictory or nonsensical in the absense of certain other information, and assuming that everyone has the same information we do is often a direct path to misunderstanding.
Similarly, words often have more than one meaning, not to mention multiple connotations and possible regional differences in the way they are used; I’ve seen more than one flame war start over different readings of the same word. In each case, it wasn’t that anyone was wrong about the meaning of the word, they just had very different ways of using it, and then attributed their own understanding of the word to the other person’s use of it. Even when it doesn’t spark angry responses, this sort of misunderstanding often leads people to talk past each other without realizing that they aren’t actually discussing the same thing.
So if we can take the misunderstandings and miscommunications that seem to crop up while Mercury is retrograde, and use them to become more aware of our words and our reactions to words, I say it’s a win. And it takes some of the heat off poor Mercury – he’s hot enough as it is, after all, being so close to the Sun.
(Have you seen the new pictures from Messenger? Awesome!)