Sometimes moving backward is the only way forward. 

When a planet goes retrograde, it pauses in the night sky. Then it begins to move backward before eventually pausing and moving forward again.

This was disturbing to the ancient astrologers, so much so that they attributed all kinds of “life out of sync” readings to these retrograde movements.

Down through the ages the retrogrades have gotten a bad rap. And in our current tech-driven culture, “Mercury Retrograde” has become short-hand for Oh shit! my computer has gone haywire and I have no idea why.

Movement in retrograde feels regressiveit feels frustrating, and pointless, and wasteful.

There have been moments in my life when I’ve been so deeply anti-retrograde that I won’t backtrack when I am out running errands—not even a half mile. My route is carefully mapped out before I leave the house to optimize forward momentum.

This is the way many of us run our lives (and run down our adrenals!).

Earlier in the year, I was noodling on this idea of a planet going retrograde, of it traveling backwards and forward again, of the possible benefits of retracing our steps, like a life edit or a do-over…

…after all, these planetary retrogrades are an observable pattern in nature and so part of the cycle of things.

Turns out it’s a darn good thing I got in philosophical sync with the retrograde, because 2014 was the year of The Great Do-Over.

It blew in big in February, when we sold the house that had never been right for us, and wound through the year with all manner of things falling by the wayside, from web designers to orthotics to our very expensive, very green mattress (that hurt our backs so badly that one or both of us would often end up on the couch).

Every decision that was not quite right—not quite in sync, not quite supporting our joy and health and wellbeing—was unmade this year, regardless of cost or headache or heartache.

The Great Unmaking has polished my ideas about what’s worth having in my life: what’s worth my time, and energy, and attention.

It’s made me realize that at every crossroads and every decision-point, I need to get a clear yes. “This bed is green and good for the environment” is not the same as “yes, I want to sleep on it.” “This house has high ceilings and gorgeous moldings” is not “I will be happy living here.”

When a planet goes retrograde, it is not, objectively speaking, moving backward. It seems to move backward because of our observation point here on Earth. Its backward movement is wholly dependent on our point of view.

And that’s been the lesson of this retrograde year:

There is no objective answer to most of life’s questions, only perception.

And it’s my perception that says whether a year of undoing moves me backward or forward.

So I am choosing to perceive The Great Undoing as The Great Leap Forward: a chance to re-visit, re-think, and re-do to bring myself closer to harmony and joy.

After all, that’s what (I think!), it’s all about.