Sunday, January 5, 2014
January and February are my least favorite months. Even as I write those words, I wish they weren't true. I wish I could not even notice the cold darkness. I wish I could embrace each moment of each day and be grateful for what those offer. Enough that the light emanating from such gratitude drives back the shadows of winter.
There is plenty to be grateful for, even in these gray days absent the vibrant golds and reds and greens of the holiday just past. Sun, when it breaks through, warming like a kiss. Skies, both morning and evening, the pink of new love. A single resonant robin chirp in the midst of the wintery and tinny music of gold-crowned kinglets.
After some weeks of absence, Bald Eagles are back. While I know their comings and goings from my line of sight are not specifically about my needs, their appearance always feels like a personal gift. A reminder that I'm not alone. Yesterday's sighting was the most powerful in a long time. Walking Toby in late afternoon, the sun casting a glow and making unmelted frost shimmer, turtled in my thoughts, I heard the tell-tale chuckle. I looked up to see two mature adults sharing the top of a Douglas fir across the river. After watching them for a bit, I continued on only to discover a completely brown and slightly rumpled eagle, probably last summer's baby, perched on a snag close by.
In those moments I feel so glad for my life, so glad to be alive.
But in these two months, they are not enough, those moments of grace and glory. I feel on edge, restless, heavy. I want time to pass. Which goes against everything I believe. And still I want to be sometime else. Somewhere else. Maybe even someone else.
Because I've been living with the challenges of winter for a long time, I have developed strategies for getting through. For getting to spring ready to burst into blossom as soon as the sun and earth invite. For enduring the inner darkness at its work while the outer darkness provides a complete absence of distraction.
My favorite strategy has always been to have something to look forward to. Some grand summer adventure that will motivate me to do all the healthy things that winter offers no encouragement for. And I have that this year. An epic adventure to anticipate.
I spent yesterday reveling in, reading about, losing myself in the anticipation of next summer's adventure. I intended to start writing about it today and to use it as a focus for my writing until I'm on the other side of it. And it was that escape that brought me to this most recent place of questioning. If I spend the next six months forward focused will I miss something important? If I find a way to embrace winter completely, without distraction or escape, will I be happier, stronger, healthier? Does the artificial light of future happiness somehow diminish the healing power of darkness?
Any time an old strategy starts to feel uncomfortable, I know to listen. Something new is about to be revealed. For now I wait. And wonder if there's not a way to have both - the energy and light of anticipation along with the patience for and presence in winter's dark dormancy.