Yes, ’tis the season for the dreaded winter blues. Lack of warmth and short days deprive many of us of an otherwise active and cheerful existence. Perhaps this is why I haven’t posted an update to this blog in over a month. I like to believe that my posts are uplifting, witty, humorous, and yet still somehow poignant. I tend to post a lot of memories from my childhood on the family farms. I think people like this sort of homespun-Waltonesque, approach, to a pleasant little adventure found on this blog, authored by a guy who gets a big kick out of life, and loves to compare contemporary life today, with my family’s blue collar attitude of yesteryear.
It’s tough to be cheerful when feeling unsettled. I go through this every year about this time. I used to love playing outside in the winter…not so much anymore. Yes, it’s a product of age, but, I think, also of wisdom. It’s cold out there. It’s hard to enjoy anything when it’s cold and the wind assaults you like the Denver defense did Tom Brady yesterday. I mean..ugh.
You get my (snow) drift.
So anyway, a Facebook friend and I were discussing this the other day and I wrote a little missive outlining my cure for the winter blues. I’ll share it with all of you now. I will also attempt to practice what I preach to the best of my abilities. Perhaps we will all regain our form, our smiles, our sense of humor, and our typical sunny dispositions if we take heed to this advice:
A Cure For The Winter Blues….
I think many of us experience, here in the frozen, cold, windy, darkness, of wintertime Maine, a period of time that we feel unsettled, out of sorts, tetchy, ultra-sensitive, downright grouchy, and somehow lost. Lost in a mild depression and a general lack of awareness of others while we are mired in an introspective fugue wondering why we can’t seem to find some contentment. We tend to regurgitate the darker memories that reside in all of us, and we reexamine them, pick at them like an irritating emotional scab, finding no solace or answers.
I wonder if this practice is to support and validate our feelings of general malaise or if this is self-perpetuating. Is this instinctive-something that is bound to happen due to the time of year, the lack of warmth, sunlight, lack of outside activities, the forced hibernation?
Clearly we socialize far less in this state of mind, and we are quick to find reasons for this. We blame the weather, the conditions, and the brutal environment for our lack of social contact with other humans, and we tell ourselves it is because we are tired, we are cold, we are too far behind on more important things that we must suffer through alone. Yes, we are quick to find excuses. One thing is sure-others are relieved with not having to deal with us when we exude this sort of negativity. So, we tell ourselves we are doing a public service. We are putting others first.
Yes, yes, I know. Some of you are shaking your heads and thinking, “What is this guy talking about…there’s all sorts of winter activities that keep the body and mind highly functioning and happy..”
I’ll get to you guys in a bit. For now humor me.
Many of us do not like the cold, but it goes deeper than that. The cold dead winter and its lack of sunlight and warmth stimulate these feelings I have outlined in many of us. In you “I LOVE winter” folks too, but you refuse to succumb. I salute you for that. You find ways to avoid this dark dreaded highway and stay on the more lighted and better maintained road of happiness and contentment….but you aint fooling anyone. You feel it too.
I suppose there are people who actually look forward to this time of year, because they thrive on winter activities. You people just aint right in the head, but dammit, I love ya anyway.
Here’s what the rest of us can learn from you folks:
Feed Your Senses.
Feed your sense of smell. Take a walk in a wood of pine, breathe deeply, or if you cant stand to be outside at all, bake a loaf of bread, or brownies. (Don’t eat them, you’ll get fat, remember, you aint out on the slopes working it off). Bury your nose in your two year old granddaughter’s hair when you hug her and exult in the pureness. Consider what your sense of smell triggers in you. It might amaze you.
Feed your sense of sound. I challenge you to maintain your grumpiness when you experience the laughter of that very same two year old. The lilting sound of calypso music, the crackling of a fire, the purring of your cat, or the voice on the phone of a loved one that you haven’t seen or talked to in many months. Our sense of sound can trigger many warm feelings of contentment.
Feed your sense of taste. This one is wide open, and one we all do daily. But, think about what tastes triggers other senses or feelings in you. Treat yourself to that perfectly grilled steak, or savor that fine glass of red. Taste something new, something you haven’t considered trying before. Risk it, you wont die or even get sick.
Feed your sense of sight. Another sense we become somewhat apathetic about as we are forced to use this every day. Consider the blind man, what would he do if given sight for a day? Take another look at those boxes of family photo’s stacked in your closet. Take a drive to a mountain top and drink in the view. Go watch a junior high school basketball game. Simply watch your grandchildren play with each other…it’s ok to live vicariously through them. It is not ok not to.
Feed your sense of feel. Enjoy stroking your cat as much as he does. Feel the connection. Treat yourself to a professional massage, typically an hour will cost about $75, but worth every penny. Stretch, actually do some easy exercises…time to stop saying you’re gonna, and take the leap. Do it, you’ll be glad you did. Give and receive any hug possible, from anyone/everyone. Don’t get arrested or beat up doing this, use another sense-common sense. Our sense of feel is tantamount to a sense of well being.
Feed your sense of intellect. Use that pretty little noggin stuck on your shoulders. Think about your senses; think about what those senses trigger in you. Stop thinking about darkness, think about light. Put your phone down, unplug your computer, shut off the TV, and go have a face to face conversation with someone. Talk about pleasant memories, or dreams. Tell jokes, laugh, and giggle, feel connected.
Feed your sense of intimacy. Don’t overlook your need, or your partners need, for intimacy. More than the act of sex, intimacy it is the nourishment we all hunger for. This need is vital to emotional well being and validation. It is what makes us feel alive as much if not more than any other sense we have residing inside ourselves. Have fun, incorporate a few other senses too, it’s ok to feel like a teenager again. Of course you wont be able to fool anyone after…”that” smile on ones face is as easy to read as a…ahem…”Hot When In Use” warning stamped on a woodstove.
Sorry, couldn’t resist... 😉
Feed your sense of community. Get involved. Make a difference. You might find the world actually does NOT revolve around you. Huh. Go figure. Be part of something bigger than any of us individually. You will feel incredible, but PLEASE, do not take up a torch and try to shove your cause down everyone else’s throat.
Feed your sense of family. Understand your role in your family unit. Be that. Appreciate your place in your family. We can never place enough value on this; it can be gone in a heartbeat. Pride, stubbornness, and selfishness are not senses, they are afflictions.
Lastly, but surely not leastly, feed your most important sense. Common-sense. My grandfather used to say, “The problem with common sense is that it aint very damn common.” Lookit, we all have deep ingrained views, opinions, ponderings, and self serving points of view. This makes us human. Ask yourself if you have experienced anyone EVER winning an argument? Ask yourself if all the conventional education, degrees, doctorates, or whatever any other self serving sense of importance we place on how educated and enlightened we are, will ever half the value or impact that plain ol’ common-sense has, does, and always will. Don’t lose this sense, feed it, it will repay you a hundred thousand times over. If you have lost it, I suggest you make an all out quest to find it. You are lost without it.
Here’s an idea, and a fun little exercise. Make it a personal conviction to see how many of our senses you can stimulate at the same time, at least once per day, more if your body and spirit can handle it. This is called feeding your sense of adventure. Do it.
Stop participating in the darkness of winter. You do have a choice.
Feed Your Senses.
I’ve taken up my own challenge to stimulate as many of my senses, every day, as much as possible. I think I’ve got most of ’em in the bag, except one. Living alone, and not being in a relationship, certainly has its advantages, but maybe I should reconsider my Lone Wolf status. Meanwhile, here’s one more for y’all. Write! Write down your thoughts, tell yourself a story, make it an adventure…you may discover, as I do, that you find yourself lost in this creation your fingers are producing. It can be quite cathartic. And, you can be anything you want to be in your story. It’s allowed.
So, that’s my rant. I promise I will be more attentive to my blog and post more often, hopefully entertaining those of you who honor me by reading it…..right after I return from Florida next week, hopefully sunburned and grinning like a dog with a mouthful of bumble bees.