As we approach the winter solstice dealing with the short days and their lack of sunlight is a little hard to get used to, especially when you’ve lived the past 18 years in Southern California. There is something inherently wrong with having to turn the headlights on while driving in the car at 3PM, but “it is what it is” I suppose. It’s not like I didn’t know how it can be around here at this time of year. So yesterday after a long day away from home for various reasons I had conked out on the couch a little early to the pitter patter of rainfall outside the window. The gloom (and the couch) had won.
This time of year can really suck you in and encase you in ice if you’re not careful.
After a few hours of sleep I awoke around midnight to the howling of wind shaking the entire house with the occasional creak and groan. A strong cold front was moving through and the window panes were shuddering with each gust like an old Russian woman beneath her babushka. One look out the window confirmed the passage of the cold front: it was snowing! Winter has been slow arriving to Maine this year but for the time being, it was a winter wonderland outside.
For the next two hours I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t really accumulating much out there as the ground is barely frozen even at the end of November (I’m shaking my fist at you El Nino and your warming influence on our weather!), but at least for the moment it was white. I stared out the window in amazement watching it blow around in the North wind, just as I had done as a kid all those years ago. The gloom was gone even though it was 2AM and the entire world was at rest. Now I couldn’t sleep. The world was alive!
There comes a time in most people’s life when they get tired. Whether just plain exhausted of the grind required to make a living or fatigued by the energy extracted from us as we combat the forces of entropy battling to bring us to our knees. Sometimes we must relent – if only for a moment (even for the strongest amongst us). Fighting upstream your entire life is never easy and somewhere along the way emotions like “wonder” and “amazement” get swept beneath the rug like some abstract detritus that accumulated on the floor from being ground to dusty oblivion in our footsteps. We “grow up” and focus on the darkness.
But if you’re lucky sometimes those long subdued emotions can return like warm rays of sun on a cold morning. Perhaps some uncover these emotions as they rediscover the world through the eyes of their children while others do in the pursuit of new hobbies or experiences. For me all it had taken was a late night snow squall – one that really didn’t amount to much as by the next morning almost all of the snow had melted. Maybe it had been only a dream, but a dream with eyes wide open to a world I once knew but have since strayed from. Out of darkness comes light, and from cold comes warmth
No matter what mechanism you rediscover it through, wonder is a vital part of the human experience that should never be lost. True, one can exist without it but doing so is like having a cold, wet El Nino induced winter on the East Coast: why bother? Bring on the snow!
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible” – T.E. Lawrence