Here is the post I intended to write and send. You probably received a version of it recently with this same photo and title above. Well that was due to an erroneous click (darn it) that prematurely published my post when it wasn’t even finished; and I suspect that those of you out there who know me best must have thought something was odd since the wayward post was so short, ha ha.
So, here I go again:
I was speaking recently with my gym manager and it turns out that we had in common a complete dislike and disapproval of dark winter days. We talked about driving in the afternoon at the reasonable hour of 5:00 or 5:30pm yet feeling as if we were driving in the darkest tunnel or being swallowed by a deep, dark abyss. The manager had a cousin who used to travel around the world following the sun, and said he had a solution for me but it would cost a few pennies. “What’s your solution?” I asked. “Fly to Australia, or anywhere in the southern hemisphere,” was the reply. I laughed, and said yeah, that ain’t happening.
The feeling of being swallowed up by a dark cave – that is what the time change, shorter days and winter do to me – it creates a black, unforgiving void, thrust upon me with little chance to acclimate because we turn our clocks an hour back in early November. Those who say it gives them an extra hour sleep or allows a brighter morning; well, that does not fly with me. Give me light in the afternoons, as much as I can that follows nature’s cycle. If we didn’t change our clocks, when would it start getting dark? Well a little later and I would take that in a heartbeat. I’m trying to squeeze out as much light as I can during the months of November and December. I simply keep remembering, “it does get better!”
I used to dread driving home from work at 5:00 pm and feeling like I had been swallowed up by some dark monster. I also did not like the fact that I couldn’t enjoy after work walks at the ocean. I’m not alone; research backs up the fact that depression, accidents, loss of productivity, illness rise with the time change.
A yoga teacher once upon a time suggested that I light candles during the darkest winter days and perhaps that might help psychologically. But what really helped me psychologically was a huge, mammoth, awesome, tremendous piece of knowledge handed to me by my husband many years ago. He told me that once we hit Winter Solstice, we would – with each succeeding day – gain about a minute of light. I was flabbergasted; how had I missed this important piece of information during my formative years? The nuns didn’t mention it, and neither did the college professors at the junior college and university I attended. But my practical husband full of common sense had picked up this vital piece of information, and it changed everything for me. Now I can be more patient and full of hope because after December 21, we will gain a minute of light each day and those minutes and days add up until all of a sudden I’m driving in the late afternoon and I notice it’s staying lighter later! Hooray!
So I wait for Winter solstice (Friday, December 21, 2018 at 2:23 PST) and I light candles (sometimes). I do know and understand that there is no light without darkness; there is no darkness without light; we live in a world of opposites, duality, paradoxes, and mysteries. We emerge from the darkness of the womb into the light of life; and when life is over, the candle light of our existence here on earth is snuffed out. Where we go, I can’t say for sure of course, but since I trust in the existence of a benevolent Creator, I imagine we go back into His/Her loving arms. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s lots of light there. Hooray!
The very nature of Nature is its cycles; birth, death, rest, growth, retreat, winter, spring, summer, fall, light, dark. Nothing stays the same and everything is always changing, but the cycles remain the same. Seeds are planted in the darkness of the soil, and reach and grasp through the dark barrier to touch the light of spring. Plants wither, leaves fall, our bodies once young start aging as well as we wait once again for cherry blossoms to dance merrily on their stems. Our ancestors followed the cycles of Nature much better than we moderns do. The equinoxes and solstices were their beacons and signaled whether a harvest was due to be planted or cultivated; they knew exactly when the sun would return and bring along with it, hope for new life. In the meantime, all of life rested and bonfires were a source of comfort, until light increased with each passing day and it was time to reap the benefit of the harvest. And they celebrated mightily, with gusto! (My Celtic ancestors, God bless them, they knew how to dance, celebrate, frolic and cavort !)
So I simply cope and accept; I accept that life is full of shadows, light, darkness and brilliance. It’s just the way it is, and the harder I fight it, the more miserable and discontent I will be. In acceptance and introspection, I can savor and cultivate a concentration on an inner light, or as I wrote in a poem once,
“I focus on an inner sun burning in my breast that takes my breath
and prevents me from neglect of a loving God ever patient and true
always present in me and you. “
Acceptance coupled with visualization! Why not?
I will end by sharing a powerful visualization that appeared in my mind’s eye about a year ago while sitting in quiet and contemplation. In this spontaneous daydream, that came unprompted by any personal effort, I saw myself alone on the face of a cliff, free climbing, my fingers raw and locked tightly into a crevice. Dark shadows would fall all around me and I would have to freeze, unable to get a clear view of the next nook I could take hold of. Then the sun would come out and shine its brilliant luster and only then would I be able to move my way up once again, edging inch by inch closer to the top. In this vision the sun was my savior but the dark shadows forced me to pause, rest and regroup.
I’m sure that the vision simply was a metaphor for life, its struggles, challenges, sufferings along with its beautiful moments of clarity, exultation and victory. Needless to say, I was very grateful for this little inner movie that played in my brain.
May your Winter Solstice give you strength and inspiration and a renewed appreciation for the light and the dark in your life.