Spring is here. In California, that doesn’t necessarily look drastically different than winter or summer or fall, but it feels different. There’s that sense of blooming, blossoming, rebirth. And this year, that feels even more significant because of the hope that COVID, like winter, may be lifting.
At this point, everyone in my family is at least partially vaccinated. In a few weeks, we’ll all be set. Many of the people I love to spend time with are also either vaccinated or on their way, so resuming something close to normal life feels imminent. I went to see my sister. We went to Grand Canyon for Easter and Paso Robles this weekend and have plans for Hawaii in June. We’ll be back in Tahoe for our Cousins Week in July.
Blooming, blossoming plans!
I’ve had some people talking with me lately about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), about how the longer, warmer days make them feel enthusiastic in ways they just don’t feel during the dark, cold stretch of winter. And I get that. It is a thing, for sure. But it’s also got me thinking about our culture’s need to pathologize experience, rather than simply notice and understand it so that we can move through it with more ease and less resistance.
Perhaps we are built to respond to seasons in a certain way. Perhaps there is nothing pathological about it. Many animals hibernate in the winter, right? What if humans do that in a different way? What if it is perfectly normal to cuddle up under a blanket as much as possible for those coldest, darkest months? Maybe when we lived in caves, it made sense to stay indoors, sleep a lot, preserve our strength and energy. And evolutionarily, that wasn’t so long ago.
What if we could see our lack of energy during the winter months as just how it is? Read, do puzzles, drink tea. What if we didn’t add layers of “should” to the whole thing? We should be out and about. We should be doing more. We should be just as happy and energetic in winter as in summer. Should we? Maybe, maybe not.
But, more importantly, what does it help to get caught up in how things aren’t the way they should be? Perhaps we can practice accepting what is instead of struggling so hard against how things aren’t what they should be.
It makes perfect sense to me to have less energy in the winter. Of course, some of us will work against that, will keep ourselves active and moving and just as busy and engaged as any other time of year. And that’s fine. But maybe that’s not our natural state. I was talking with my mom about this and she shared that her grandpa, who had been a farmer, took the winter months to listen to music on his phonograph and read all the National Geographic magazines he didn’t have time for during planting and tending and harvesting in the spring, summer and fall. It was a natural time of rest, and there was no resistance on his part.
So spring has arrived, and for many of us, it is easier to get out of bed (it’s light out!), easier to be active (it’s warm!). We may feel motivated to make plans, to see friends, to reengage in life. I am deeply grateful for all that and plan to enjoy it rather than analyzing it too much!