What is it about springtime that is so unsettling? Everyone seems positively antsy for summer yet not ready to let go of winter. The weather itself doesn’t quite know how to handle the transition, this year being even more bonkers than normal. And everyone in my orbit simply seems uneasy.

I’ve heard that Mercury is in retrograde. I don’t know what that means exactly, but from what I’ve observed, it means that people have collectively lost their shit. Otherwise rational, calm and thoughtful people have gone completely unhinged in the last few weeks, and I’m not sure we can blame it all on a tiny planet.

Last week, after the most recent meltdown from a guest in my office, I wondered what was going on. Just two days into the week, I had already seen it all: tears from students, tantrums from faculty, fellow staff members ready to throw up their hands and walk out. In my own desperation, I texted a friend, “Do you think the government put some kind of test chemical in the water, and is there a 1-800 number I can call to tell them that whatever it is it’s NOT WORKING?”

“It’s probably just Mercury. I think it’s in retrograde again.”

I accepted that explanation. People always blame Mercury for mercurial behavior. But then, for fun, I looked back at my calendar from March 2018. Since my calendar is hidden to everyone but me, I sometimes use colorful language to break up my tedious days. Sure enough, those first couple weeks in March last year were full of appointments with names like “Talk Sara off the ledge,” “Make sure Jon ate today,” “Buy new office Kleenex for the criers.” And it occurred to me that, quite possibly, spring is always in retrograde.

It’s a time of year that we are supposed to believe is rife with possibility, new life, warm weather, fresh and green. And yet, with that comes a certain discontent. People don’t handle change well, and spring represents the biggest change of them all. Unlike the other seasons, which seem to transition more slowly, spring can come at us like a slap in the face.

Couple that with the fact that, for many, spring is one of the busiest times of the year. After the quiet calm of a season spent indoors watching Netflix, we are suddenly faced with getting kiddos signed up for sports and planning our gardens. Our calendars are already filling up with graduation parties and weddings. The warming weather makes us feel like we should clean our houses top to bottom, but the lingering cold makes us feel like we should blow off just one more weekend and go snowboarding before it’s too late.

Like the planets, spring itself is temperamental. It’s understandable that not everyone handles this season with aplomb. Mercury in retrograde might be unsettling, but Mercury in retrograde in springtime? Buckle up, everyone; we’re in for a bumpy ride.


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