The daylight is shrinking. As I drive home at night, it’s as if nature is slowly pushing down on the dimmer switch with each passing day.
Usually, this time of year is a drag for me. Metabolism becomes more slothful, my brain a bit foggier. Diet changes. I go from slurpy gazpacho in the summer to the thick stews that made up Buffalo’s winter cuisine. Activity level tanks. Time on the elliptical replaced by sprawling on the couch.
I guess some would call it Seasonal Affective Disorder. I hate that term. We seem to pathologize everything these days. So what if I tend to be a bit sadder, a tad more slothful. Is that a “disorder?” I think not.
Something seems better this year, however. It’s pretty clear that the more I sleep, the better I feel. Summer meant seven hours of sleep; now I’m clocking nine. I go to bed earlier, but wake up feeling fresher, and mentally sharper without the gloom of depression.
The birth of each new season brings back memories of ones’ past. Growing up in an old farmhouse deep in the country outside Buffalo, pear trees surrounded me. By November, the fruit had long before jumped off the branches to the grass below leaving only naked, grey branches.
In “Bittersweet: Thoughts of Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way,” Shauna Niequist writes:
“Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cold nights and the smell of fire. Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself. The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of winter.”
Now so far away from that life in my suburban home, it’s different but all the same. The time to turn inward as nature does is perennial. I take stock of where my days are going and what it’s all adding up to.
I put out a lot of energy for my job. Sometimes, at age 57, it leaves me feeling a pooped. I sit in my recliner in front of the T.V. and, well, I guess you can guess what happens from here. I drift in and out of nocturnal slumber until my wife reminds me to get up to bed.
Laying there waiting for the sheets to warm up, I find myself grateful that good sleep has helped make my on-going struggle easier.
I take stock of where I am in my life.
I look at my nightstand clock. I feel pretty content.
It isn’t so much a feeling of happiness, as peace.
By Dan Lukasik