We don’t know about you, but here at SuperOptimist headquarters, the past couple of weeks have been filled with more than our share of unfortunate events: a car battery dying at an inopportune time, a dog spraining his right front paw, chaotic deadlines at the office, a pulled muscle in the lower back, and an errant glass of water spilling on a laptop to the tune of a $1500 replacement.

So when we discovered that the planet Mercury had gone into retrograde on October 13th, and will continue that way for a few more days, we weren’t in the least surprised. After all, the hallmarks of Mercury Retrograde are often negative and doom-laden. Disruptions, miscommunication, and worrying more than usual are but some of the troubles one can expect.  And all this comes in the midst of voting for the U.S. president, as friends, neighbors and the country-at-large are made frantic by the possibility that we’re in for another contested election.  (Guess when the last presidential face-off to happen during Mercury Retrograde was? That’s right. Yikes.)

So whether you’re a believer in astrology or you think it’s all hocum and nonsense, this latest cycle is due to end at 12:50 pm on November 3rd. Whether this is good news or not, will depend on how you play it.

SuperOptimists, believing that every negative is a positive in disguise, do not run from the trials of Mercury Retrograde. In fact, we welcome them!  Consider that these are not negative events, but moments designed to wake us out of the semi-conscious state in which we often pass our time.

In our case, the unwelcome expenditure on a laptop reminds us that hey, it’s only money and now we’ll have a faster hard drive and more memory; our dog’s sore paw helps us honor the animal kingdom by loving her even more and give her an extra treat,  the bad back an opportunity to slow down, take stock, and correct mistakes we made trying a power yoga move when we should start with mild stretching.

Just as spiritual practitioners welcome pain as a teaching tool, our Mercury Retrograde exposure helps us foster patience and focus the mind. As we rise above present discomforts, we’ll be better prepared for whatever comes next. (Including 6 more months of social isolation, our candidate not winning the election, and the cancellation of our favorite program on netflix.)

Best of all, without Mercury Retrograde, we wouldn’t know how good we have it when it’s not Mercury Retrograde. And for that, we’re eternally grateful.

*Mercury Retrograde doesn’t mean the planet has suddenly changed direction, but that from the perspective of the Earth, it appears to be moving backwards against the constellations of stars that form the zodiac.  So it’s an illusion…but then again, isn’t everything?

Landing on the moon was the height of accomplishment for Apollo 11 astros Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, and we continue to celebrate their feat to this day. But government-sanctioned space pilots are not the only ones with the ability to launch themselves into orbit. With a bit of concentration, you can too!*

All you need do is develop your SuperOptimist Antigravity Practice (S.O.A.P.®). Simply stated, S.O.A.P is the ability to picture the world from above. It can be as simple as gazing down from the ceiling at an event transpiring in the room in which you’re sitting. Or as far-flung as having your gaze come from another galaxy entirely, to render the world as a mere blip in the cosmos.

By looking at existence as if standing on your own private observation deck – one that you can shift to any elevation – you gain an outlook on life that renders any situation manageable. Suddenly, the traffic jam you’re in becomes a curious abstraction, the endless meeting at the office a gathering of tiny heads all nodding in sequence, the blank piece of paper a simple square of white without the power to paralyze.

Consider the photos taken by NASA explorers. From their position high above our planet, it looks as if they’re peering into a microscope that can shrink an entire galaxy to the size of a postcard. This point of view has such a powerful impact on their consciousness that they speak of it expanding their understanding of existence.

But it’s not just astronauts who can develop this ability. Researchers operating in the social sciences term it “self-distancing,” and recommend it as a way to decrease stress and make difficult tasks easier. Just by leaning back in your chair when you’re working on something difficult, you can ease the burden and give yourself more perspective on the situation. Fully activate an abstract view of the problem at hand and your ability to solve it multiplies exponentially.

Now try this practice by imagining yourself far in the distant future, or hovering near the ceiling watching the proceedings below in a detached way, or even entering the body of a different person in your general vicinity. How would you describe this experience?

When stuck in a cubicle, or an airport, or an endless holiday gathering, it’s quite useful to teleport upward and gaze at the situation with aloofness. You can feel the tension disappear, your humor return, and an empathy arise for the people around you who are suffering through another exceedingly dull patch without the benefit of your gravity-defying abilities. Your SuperOptimist Antigravity Practice is an invisible spyglass that offers you perception beyond normal sight.Turn to it often, and enjoy a way of seeing that puts everything – yes, everything – into perspective.

*For complete instructions on venturing into space, we recommend “A Wise Man Taught Me How to Defy Gravity and Now I’ll Teach You.”

It’s been a few weeks since Mercury went retrograde* and things are all out of whack!   At least, that’s what the SuperOptimist keeps hearing from many quarters. Meetings cancelled, elevators stuck, phones malfunctioning, promises broken, limbs broken, blood clots revealed — it seems everyone we know is being affected.

In fact, just trying to type this post, our laptop went on the blink and we had to hit “Restart.”

We have been warned not to take on any new projects, or buy major appliances, or sign contracts…in fact, it’s probably best to just stay indoors with the covers pulled over our heads until the bad juju passes. After all, just look at the people we know who have been felled by the mighty gods of astrology!

But there’s a positive aspect to the zodiac zeitgeist that people fail to take into consideration: Mercury retrograde is a great excuse to not do anything we don’t want to do. We look for this kind of rationale all the time. Now we have one!

We can turn down the cocktail party invitation from that colleague who bores us to tears. We can claim “computer trouble” for continuing to miss the deadlines the boss gave us. While we’re at it, we can postpone doing chores around the house and cancel our plan to wade into weekend traffic to visit the relatives.  It could all go haywire, so better to leave well enough alone.

Understanding that 90% of people on the planet know their astrological signs, and 70% read their horoscopes regularly, there’s a wide berth for saying “Christ I wish I could ______________ , but you know, it’s Mercury Retrograde.”**

(Meanwhile, if some weird shit happens to you during this period, look at it as a positive: this planetary event is drawing attention to some part of your life that you’ve been ignoring. Rather than avoid the issue, embrace the turbulence and see if you don’t come out better for it on the other side.)

*Every four months or so, the planet Mercury goes into “apparent retrograde motion,” where planets appear to temporarily reverse the direction of their orbit from the point of view of Earth. And yet, since Mercury is 48 million miles away and often obscured by sunlight, no one really sees this occur — even astrologers employing a 3 inch Newtonian reflector telescope with 300 mm focal length lens. 

**This particular cycle ends on August 19th.  So plan accordingly.

If you find it getting stuffy in your home, office, car or — most especially — cranium, take a cue from Aldous Huxley and open some doors.

Now we don’t advocate taking drugs to break open the head.  Rather, we recommend literally opening the nearest door, walking out of the confines you are currently in and towards a meditation center, nature preserve, or art studio.* All are more genuine ways of breaking through to the other side, without the nasty side effects.

As Aldous said, “The ordinary waking consciousness…is by no means the only form of consciousness, nor in all circumstances the best. Insofar as he transcends his ordinary self and his ordinary mode of awareness, the mystic is able to enlarge his vision, to look more deeply into the unfathomable miracle of existence.”

So open all the doors.  And windows too.  Especially if there’s a nice breeze to be enjoyed.

*Huxley himself began practicing meditation years before he experimented with substances.  

What if you weren’t confined to normal, safe, everyday ordinary thoughts? Maybe you’d be willing to take some risks and do something dangerous or something extraordinary.

Take Elon Musk: he spent $100 million dollars of his own money on developing rocket technology aimed at colonizing Mars in his lifetime. Better yet, he convinced his friends and the US government to pony up an additional $900 million to help build his new generation of SPACE-X rockets. Is Elon crazy? Yes. Will he get to Mars? Also yes.  There is no stopping Elon. Because to do something amazing, sometimes you have to leave all the usual dull Earthly rules and restrictions behind you and think like a Martian.