The weather was wrong. Hotels weren’t ready. The water was scary. The stadiums were empty. Even the uniforms looked strange. That the fifth Olympic ring malfunctioned in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics was perhaps a wink from Mercury himself, letting us know that we were in for some hijinks. This year’s Olympics had the bad fortune to synchronize with Mercury’s retrograde and the approaching shadow of Mars doing the same.
There were the typical upsets and snafus we expect from retrogrades. Equipment failures. Sudden tough patches of snow. Snowboarder Shaun White was one of several top athletes who failed to make the podium. The Russian hockey team was eliminated before the finals. Norwegian papers called their team’s performance the worst debacle in the county’s sports history. During an interview after failing to make the finals, skier Bodie Miller looked genuinely puzzled—the conditions were so different from what he trained for; he wondered if he was overthinking things.
The Olympics offered an exquisite stage for the same kind of dramas we all have to contend with during retrogrades, albeit with lower stakes. But given that we’ve got another two and a half months of Mars retrograde, it’s worth reviewing what the Olympics taught us. First, and most importantly, we learned that retrogrades aren’t universally awful. They’re just a sign of unstable conditions. Things don’t go as expected. And that can be a good thing too. Many lesser known athletes were ecstatic with performances of personal bests. The young figure skating gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova was clearly in the retrograde flow zone. Overthinking doesn’t work during retrogrades. We have to surrender to the moment, and in that surrender, we might find greatness too.
Retrogrades are important periods for pushing beyond our comfort zones. Whatever events they bring—they stretch us. And while more typically we groan whenever another retrograde begins, we should also, perhaps, be a little delighted. We should know that we’re going to be tested. It’s the retrogrades of our life that have made us strong. And most of all, we should remember to keep a sense of humor, which is just what the Russian hosts did in the closing ceremony, when the fifth ring winked.
Mars is retrograde from March 1 to May 19.