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.
Driving through the wind-shaped hills of southern Wyoming, I make my way toward my favorite place on earth in anticipation. The smooth, rippling hills jut and swoop down the slope of the mountains in soft greens and browns, beneath an expansive sky of blue and grey flat-bottomed clouds. I stop for gas and a quick bite in Centennial before heading up into the mountains.
Hills of green joined the moody gray and subtle blue of the sky mirroring in the still water of Lake Hope, creating a truly awe-inspiring scene before me. I drove deep into the forest before slowing to a stop. I decided to hike through to water’s edge. I slung a day pack over my shoulder and grabbed my beach chair with one hand. And as I trampled my way through the thick brush of spring, I realized there were no signs of other campers or hikers, or families stirring, only the sound of my footsteps, my breaths and my heart beating wild.
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