Sunday, September 13, 2009


At a certain point in each circle around the sun, even though it continues moving forward, from our perspective, a planet appears to reverse its motion and comes back towards us. According to astrology, Mercury retrograde is particularly a time of confusion, miscommunication and failed attempts. I used to humor my first wife about this, but after thirty years of coincidences, I give the concept much more credence now.

The advice is to proceed cautiously, avoid serious decisions, and allow the month to pass without concern for results. It is wise, they say, to reserve the time for contemplation. Retreat is prudent; meditation productive.

This week, I suffered frustrations galore on many levels, things like arriving at a jobsite without vital tools and dashing to a show behind too slow vehicles. Trying to print a simple document for a friend, we corrected one typo and, rephrasing, committed another, reprinting and reprinting to the point it ran out of ink with no spare cartridge on the premises. My help to hang art resulted in crooked lines, droopy labels and multiple trips for supplies in an untimely manner.

Internally, my heart has both beaten with ecstasy and sadly adjusted to a flower that has bloomed to a different color than was hoped. For weeks now, the return to focus on carpentry to pay the bills leaves me pressed for time in the morning and listless at night, with energy enough only to gaze at a movie on my tiny computer screen. Prolific in my journal, at least, I despair that potential blog entries have read without inspiration and ended unfinished.

Knowing Mercury is retrograde, whether I really believe it or not, allows me to breathe into this time with patience, notice the difficulties, and absorb the lessons. I give myself a little cushion of forgiveness for what does not go smoothly, what might be said ambiguously or how little gets accomplished in a day.

This is a time when my life appears to be going backwards, returning to a place of distraction from creativity, half-hearted focus on the work at hand, and emotional turmoil around a desired relationship. Once addicted to hourly peeks at my blog statistics, I can go a week now without a glance, recognizing and appreciating you faithful readers, while accepting that without regular entries and comments on other blogs, visits to mine dwindle proportionally. Just so goes my bank account: dependent directly on the hours worked for income, for now, carpentry wins the day.

In so many ways, much to the concern of friends, family, and mostly myself, I could be banging against that same wall that nearly crushed me two years ago. Depression and self-flagellation dance close by my side. In the middle of the night, I lie awake fearful I will not have the energy or optimism to greet the next day.

The difference is that I have better tools to scratch the surface, creating the tiny crack that leads to the opening and clear the blockage. These are with me all the time, never left on the bench at home, but reside in my heart, brain and loins, ever present and ready to burst forth in word, song, or simply expressed in a hug.

Instead of working so hard for the external love and approval—the accolades from others, the dollars in my pocket, the connection with a woman—I turn inward and learn to trust the bearings of my own compass. I begin to luxuriate in the confidence of my own self-worth.

A dear friend has showed me the healing powers of truth and forgiveness, taught me that partnership, in any form, even when strained, thrives with bold communication. She has shown me that being a disappointment does not always lead to conflict and catastrophe, but can actually bring two people closer when handled respectfully. There is an amazing safety in open, heart-felt vulnerability.

In embracing my creativity, other friends have joined me in celebration, so glad to be with me in joy instead of commiseration. New friends appear as each new chink in my armor breaks off another piece and exposes me more. We are mutually supportive, inter-dependent, so that when life is retrograde we can keep our spirits moving forward.

Please share with your friends


Hayden Tompkins said...

I've always felt that your music was about expression and creativity, about working through the rough bits in your life, and about connecting with people.

Please don't ever lose that. And please don't ever let life get in the way of making music. It will hurt you more deeply than you can imagine.

Maybe you don't have to "make a living" at it. But as long as you never stop, you'll have lived your life from the deepest parts of you.

laughingirl said...

I've just read dozens of essays about President Obama's speech to students. In it he stressed that failure is essential to success, as long as you don't give up. He reminded kids that Harry Potter was rejected 12 times!So, you are in good company. Don't lose heart.

Laurie said...

You amaze me Kip. You have a wonderful ability to really ponder life and your passions. While most people simply try to make it through the day without forgetting a child at soccer practice, You go much deeper into your purpose and passions, and what you are here on this planet to do and be.

While you are not necessarily "doing" what you want to put bread on your table, you are the person you are meant to be and growing toward your fullness everyday. You are exploring what all it means to be Kip, to create, love, adventure, risk, and be alive. The grace you give yourself during this time of the year because Mercury wiggles a certain way, give yourself that grace even when Mercury is not being so sassy. You deserve that grace. Why not give yourself at least as much wiggle room as you give others. You're worth it my friend.