Oh, the winter. Longer than a season. From clocks back to clocks forward. Eighteen weeks of cold darkness. The inspiration of summer hastily extinguishes and I rush home to escape the cold; to an empty apartment where I do nothing but go to bed way too early and feel longing and guilt for all the things I could be using all this shut-in time for. I am hard-wired to move and all this rest is weighing fearfully on a frail consciousness revealed without the distractions of doing and going and seeing and adventures. I am wasting away, every year, more than a quarter of my life. I have too much time to lament my thinning hair, my face that is cracking, my vision that is blurring. I still have my body and when I can’t use it, I am lost.
Last night was the same. I came home, poured myself a glass of wine, and settled in watching « Camille Claudel 1915. » Then I put on « La Bolduc » but fell asleep half-way through, somewhere around 9:30 p.m..
Of course I could be doing things, exercising at the gym, running up the stairs of my thirty-floor apartment building, going to the rock climbing gym, and in the beginning of this cold condemnation, I do. But quite quickly my mind disallows it. What’s the use? The dark makes me feel hidden away, the coldness makes me feel buried and my step heavy. I turn in toward myself. Leaving the house is impossible. A forced hibernation I find long and painful to endure.
Some mornings, though, have somehow eluded the deathly grasp of winter’s suffocating depression. My sacred mornings! How I love to rise before the Sun, make an espresso and bathe in the peace of a new day, free from anxiety and over-thinking. When the world is still asleep and I am awake, I feel motivated, like I am getting a head start, like today might be different. Look at this morning, after all. Here I am, writing.
Perhaps there are simply stages of surviving this curse. Stage one, I ride on the life and enthusiasm of summer’s bliss. Stage two, depression. I wallow in and am flattened by the stark contrast between the boundless energy and inspiration I know in warm weather and sunshine and the lethargy and discouragement I know in the numbing, black winter. I let it defeat me.
But today feels different.
Perhaps it is the wisdom of age, not that wisdom automatically comes with getting older but it can if you are humble and open to learning. That, I am! How I want to learn how to deal with this eighteen week sentence! Perhaps it is the lesson of being receptive rather than combative when life brings you things you do not like or understand. The Camino de Santiago taught me this last summer. Had I forgotten already? Hard-wired recidivist, I also am! Or perhaps it is remembering that, yes, I still have my body. But I also still have my mind.
It is the ukulele and the piano. It is the books and the writing, too. It is the good company I have been so fortunate to find. It is the French films I have so long been meaning to see. It is the learning to cook and how creative and fulfilling that is. It is being still for a change and not hating it but embracing it; switching gears consciously rather than begrudgingly.
Stage three, acceptance.
Six weeks down, twelve to go. Perhaps it won’t be so bad after all.