Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Better View of Winter?

In college, I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Online. By my roommate. What?

Since then, I have experienced the symptoms of this disorder every winter. The effects are mostly due to the lack of sunlight that people experience in the winter, when the days end at 4:30. To make matters worse, for the past 2 years I lived in a bedroom with no windows. Zero natural light. This was ok when I got to sit on the terrace in the spring, summer and fall, but come winter and I became a different person. But this year, I have two (two!) windows in my bedroom. We have bay windows in the living room and since we're on the fourth floor (and in Brooklyn where that means something), fantastic light is let in for the sunrise and sunset. My goal this winter is to be less affected by the lack of light. The good news is that the longest night of the year has come and gone. And we are less than 2 months away from daylight savings time (March 9 if you are curious).

Another friend from college recently sent me an essay called "There is a Season" that uses the season changes metaphorically. The author offered some really interesting insight into this season that I dread: "It is a season where death's victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy." Yes. This is the exact mindset that I have in the winter. So many days I just want to curl up on my bed and hibernate. (I do thank God for the invention of the ankle length down coat. It truly is a life changer.)

The author of the article is of a mind not as bleak as mine, though. She says that with winter comes "utter clarity: it comes when the sky is clear, the sun is brilliant, the trees are can walk into woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground they are rooted in...Winter clears the landscape, however brutally, giving us a chance to see ourselves and each other more clearly, to see the very ground of our being." The fall and the holidays are generally so crazy that I barely have time to breathe. Life seems like a blur and I always finding myself lacking the time to sort through all the things running around in my mind. "A daily walk into the winter world will fortify the spirit by taking you boldly into teh very heart of the season you fear. Our inward winters take many forms--failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them."

So, my goal is to walk boldly into winter and not let it get the best of me (while talking to my mom about how spring really will be right around the corner...aye!). I have started running in Prospect Park, I found this week that I can see through the trees to all the streets neighboring the park, and it helps me know my new borough a bit more. I was sitting on my bed last week and realized that without the leaves, I can see the midtown skyline through the window. I hope that as I see these physical things more clearly, it will bleed into my interior life, that is filled with so much I am longing to sort through.

You'll know I've had it when I start listening to Jimmy Buffett on repeat or making mango salsa or gazing longingly at the flip flops in my closet or cry when the flower shops start putting potted hyacinths outside in February. Sigh.

Oh, let there be light. Just kidding. Sort of.

1 comment:

meagh said...

oh, kristen. again, proof positive of our kindred-ness. i also self-diagnosed myself with SAD (funny acronym, right?) and while i do have a window in my room, it faces a brick wall.. so essentially, i don't have a window. let's be friends in person.