Mercury Goes Retrograde in the Studio

Attachment-1(1) Recently, people have been talking a lot about Mercury Retrograde. An event that takes place 3-4 times a year, the planet Mercury appears to slow down and actually move backwards. It's an optical illusion, because the planet continues to move forward, its just doesn't look like it from Earth's point of view. It's like when you're in a slow train and a much faster one speeds past. It seems like you're not moving at all.

One of my favorite commentators on astrological events, Cathy Coleman, wrote the following about Mercury Retrograde:

Mercury symbolizes communication, and its retrograde motion beckons us to pause and re-think, re-organize, and purge the Inbox and remnants of lists undone rather than start new endeavors. Communication can get snarled and confused, so be patient with mistakes and with those who make them.

My own adventures have been limited to garden variety computer glitches (how come I can't log into the electronic medical records with the same password I've used for 2 years?) the i-phone (no matter how many pics I delete, I still can't take any more??) and my favorite one, the studio.

When I made it up to the studio this past weekend, I thought that I'd successfully set up four panels with monoprint collage bases. I used 12-4"  squares on a 12" x 12" panel and 24 squares on a 12" x 24" panel. Um hmm. I completely forgot that those squares I planned to turn into segmented circles were actually supposed to be 6." I didn't remember that part of the plan until I'd glued on almost all of the circles, and dammit--they looked really small!

At that point I had a choice, freeze up and curse and jettison the whole lot or...pause.  I thought about a passage I'd just read in Pema Chodrons's book Comfortable with Uncertainty.

The central question of a warrior's training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort. How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day?...We regard disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, jealousy, and fear as moments that show us where we're holding back, how we're shutting down. Such uncomfortable feelings are messages that tell us to perk up and lean into a situation when we'd rather cave in and back away.

Indeed. I calmly peeled away all the little quarter circles, measured and began again. And here's what I found. Rather than screwing up my plans, the confusion between my math facts lent the work in progress a kind of complexity that I could not have planned. Working with the difference between multiples of 4 and 6 was like working with music in different time signatures--fun, exciting, stimulating. So I'm going with it. Leaning in and discovering what happens when I welcome the random challenges of Mercury Retrograde.