For as long as I can remember, winter has not been an easy time for me. The darkness, the cold, and something else I’m not sure I can explain causes kind of psychological veil to drop down around me. I am sure that winters spent in the Pacific Northwest in Southeast Alaska only served to heighten this response of my being to the season.
I remember thinking that I was doing relatively well that first winter in Alaska. I kept my happy lamp on for hours each day at work, and I took my vitamin D supplements regularly. It was only when I had already crossed well over to a dark place and was desperately scrambling to get out that I realized how subtle the shift could be from one side to the other—from the lightness to the dark.
So far, winter in Lowell feels pretty good. When I wake up in the morning, there is light in the sky. The sun shines most days, often enough that I appreciate the days of gray and rain and dynamic skies. It doesn’t get dark until nearly 4:30pm in the afternoon. After light filling the sky midmorning and Alaska and leaving without a trace by early afternoon, this amount of daylight feels luxurious. It still feels like it is 8 o’clock when it is only early evening, but I guess there is some physiological responses to each season that are universal.
Winter is a wonderful time for reflection but also an important time to be surrounded by community. It helps to be near friends and family and people who love me. And of course, I’m so very thankful for the company of my two feline companions, Fin and Arwen. I would be so very lonely and lost without them.
I suppose that I could consider my dissertation constant companion. It is always there, just waiting for me to lavish my attention upon.
This year, I am trying to appreciate each moment, to find meaning and beauty in even the darkest of places. This journey helps me to find even greater joy in the light.
I know that someday, not too long from now, the sun will shine a little bit brighter and warmer on my cheeks and the chimney Swift’s will return to fill the sky. Until then, I will do my best to be patient and to reflect on each breath of air I draw in and release to continue its journey in this strange and unpredictable universe.
Wherever you may be as this year draws to a close, I wish you well. And as the light slowly but surely returns to the sky, I hope that you can find joy in both the dark and light moments of life.