The important things stopped being beautiful, or perhaps I stopped noticing. Everything started to frustrate me. My irritation level grew paramount and I could hardly stand the lines, the meaningless dribble, the typical small talk and the fake well wishes. I found myself circling the proverbial drain, losing myself down the rabbit hole of negativity. I began waking up beneath a dark cloud each morning, thinking to myself, ‘Is this it? Again?” Every day trivialities shook me, becoming a burden I carried which changed who I was and how I interacted with everyone.
Crisp pine and woodland aromas lingered on the cool winter air. Vivid but pale and glowing was the landscape all around me as the wind swept snow against the rocks, creating mounds around each tree trunk. It was deeper than I had anticipated, but I was managing…
Like a worn donkey with a carrot dangling overhead, I slogged on through the bitter cold, mustering enough in me to force another step forward. And another, and another. The weight of my pack, tent and gear pulled me down with each step. The wind whipped icy whip cracks against my face, cracking my lips and searing my eyes shut. I cracked them open, peering out through bleary slits, as I continued through the winter wilderness. Frost had frozen to what remained of the grass beneath the carpet of snow, and it crackled beneath the tread of my Keen Targhee boots. I went on like this, slow but steady, for what seemed like days. The only thing keeping me up were them boots.
When I lived in Colorado, the Rocky Mountains always drew me in. When I wasn’t in them, among the rocks and the trees, I would stare at them in the distance and think about them, and dream of better times spent in nature. There’s just something magical, or mystical, or homey about being out far enough that I no longer hear or see signs of fellow humans, because only then am I getting back to the origins of life. A distinct peacefulness and sensation of belonging comes over me in the unspoiled wilder places of the world.
Sweeping hills of green joined the moody gray and subtle blue of the sky mirrored in the still water of the pond, creating an inspiring, eye-catching scene before me. Though, an hour or so before I had awoken beneath a grey cloud that tainted my mood and stalled my ability to write and work, and to think clearly…
The bipolar winds of a warming Ohio winter have been swirling, bringing rain and flooding to the central woods near my home, where only weeks before the snow had swallowed up my tiny country town in a blanket of pearlescent white. The days have been cut short by the near-forgotten sun, which has forced me to remain indoors most days while I dream of a greener spring and a warmer summer. And while many of my family and friends are consumed with the work and busyness that comes with modern times, I surround myself with my writing, reading, and contemplation, as well as things that make me happy.
Because what else can one do?
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a real disorder that I’ve come to understand well this winter, not because of its troubling affects but because I’ve worked to manage them unlike years past. Third shifters and a lot of people who live in northern countries deal with SAD since the sun dims in the winter months. To manage daily, I sit in front of a light therapy lamp and surround myself in things I love: music, books, painting, craft projects, and redecorating rooms in my house. And while the bottom line for my mood has improved compared to some more depressing experiences in years past, I still crave the beach and the sun, and I miss spending time with loved ones.
When the dismal shades of winter paint the sky grey, to where the sun is all but blotted out, where the green of the living life lay dormant, ever sleeping, it is our lives that feel the burden of modern life most. For me, it’s part seasonal affective disorder, for lack of sunshine, but it’s also a deep seated sadness that sits heavy in my heart, for it was me that chose to stay cooped up indoors and away from the natural world. For there in the unspoiled wilderness am I free, at ease, decompressed and de-stressed, and reconnecting with where I was born from.
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