When I was a child the last week of January had a special meaning. It heralded excitement and a tingle of anticipation that seeped through my cute melanined pores. An extraordinarily magical event was on the way, one that was loved but also struck fear in the hearts of many a black schoolchild as they struggled to learn Herbert W Brewster’s “I’m determined to be somebody someday” before the big program.
Yes, I’m talking about Black History Month.
Black History Month, a US tradition commemorated in February - the shortest damned month of the year - sparked a temporary collective feeling of pride in my elementary school. Success. A time in which everyone looked back at what we‘d overcome and what was to come.
And lots of wobegone kids performing afrocentric dances and proudly e-nun-ci-a-ting their scripts because Mom, Dad, Grandaddy and of course M’Dear would be in the audience of the annual Black History Month assembly. (Cue the fam standing with pride as the 5th grade choir starts “Lift Every Voice and Sing”).
Oh the pressure.
A 28-day-long riddle inside Harriet Tubman‘s knapsack wrapped in Frederick Douglass’ luscious afro, yes, this was Black History Month to me.
Then everything went back to “normal” on March 1st.
I’d ask myself as a kid: “What if every month was Black History Month? Not the pressure of learning of this stuff, but the awareness, the honoring - shoot - the fun!"
Which brings me to Mercury retrograde.
The lead-up to Mercury retrograde usually goes like this (at least for me): panic, panic, bookmark favorite astrology sites, check all electronics, try to stall signing that contract until after retrograde, panic, panic.
Then comes the actual retrograde: panic, panic, analyze bank account, check brakes on car, reorganize Dropbox folders, install TechTool Pro on laptop, slow down, make lots of tea, sit, meditate, avoid upgrading iPhone until everything’s over.
Panic? Not so much.
Then retrograde ends.
Then we go back to our daily habits: running around like the proverbial headless chickens, ignoring that laptop fan when it speeds up (Too many tabs open? Or is the whole thing about to go kaputt. Oh well.). Uploading files to Dropbox willy nilly. Glancing over important paperwork, then signing.
And so on.
What if Mercury retrograde was all year long? Not the panicky aspects, but the parts that make us aware. That keep us on our toes.
That give us permission to slow down and analyze what’s around us.
That make sure we dot our “i’s” and cross our “t’s”.
That keep us woke.
Here’s a challenge for the non-Mercury-retrograde times: stay woke about what’s around you. Set up a weekly budgeting session for yourself. Find tools that help with the upkeep of your electronics. Pledge to take time to read over that boring paperwork. Analyze what’s around you. Find out why you buy what you buy. Slow down. Pay attention.
Act like it’s Mercury retrograde, even when it isn’t.
Again, bypass the panic. Embrace the awareness. Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week. And so on.
Now, can we talk about doing the same with Black History Month?