Ah, winter! Here you are, embracing us with your quietly blanketing darkness, cold and silence. Like a little recurring death, coming around every year.
I only recently experienced the joy of winter. It is a quiet joy, for winter does not indulge in grand gestures and does not charm like the rays of the sun. Winter can be rough and wild; wet and grey, glimmeringly white and beautiful. Many of our winged, finned and multi-legged comrades have either already migrated to milder places or are conserving their energies and going into hibernation.
Those of us who go on two legs, on the other hand, still have access to both food and heat. For us, winter can be enjoyed in its own right, becoming more than simply a season to be overcome. We are so (culturally) conditioned to regarding darkness as dangerous or even evil, but darkness can feel safe and enveloping. Especially if you practice seeing it that way. Now is the best time to be introverted and experience a sense of peace.
Winter has many qualities. I find these particularly important: Silence – darkness – rest – mystery – death. My best advice is: Surrender yourself to it.
WALKING AND SILENCE
The slow pace of a long walk is a beautiful way of moving into or out of the darkness, into the sunrise, into the low-hanging sun, into the twilight or all the way into the deepest, darkest darkness.
Try to silence yourself along the way, slow the eternally grinding gears of the mind, and listen instead to your footsteps, the birds, the rustlings in the undergrowth. Lean your head back, enjoy the starry sky and the benevolent moon.
WELCOMING THE GLOAMING
Welcoming the gloaming is an ancient Nordic ritual. Here the darkness is revered and honoured as it quietly rolls up, marking the end of the activities of the day. In the twilight hour, try sitting down comfortably and switch off all electric lights. You can light candles instead. Sit there in silence or share stories with your loved ones and enjoy the dark as it washes over you.
Before we had electricity, the workday stopped at sunset. Now we can be productive around the clock, making stress a constant companion. Taking a nap on the sofa is deeply unproductive – and you cannot buy or consume anything while you do. In this sense, resting is a form of anti-capitalist activism. The entire natural world rests to conserve energy. You should allow yourself to do the same.
Darkness veils and obscures, allowing a sense of mystery and enigma to spread. Tell, listen to or read stories. Look at your own dark sides and be caring and forgiving.