Winter is long. Very long, some days. Especially here up north. I often wish I could go back in time and personally congratulate all of the early settlers who survived winter after winter up here, without the all of the modern home advances and creature comforts we tend to take for granted these days. So commendable.
In all honesty, I actually generally like winter. The reasonable ones anyway (being blasted with 25 below temperatures for weeks on end as we endured earlier this year…yeah, ain’t nobody got time for that). Fresh falling snow and early morning sunrises are serene. Skating, sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, snowman building – all great pastimes exclusive to winter. Hot beverages taste twenty times better when there’s a chill in the air. And have I mentioned cold, starry, winter night skies? Unbelievable. If you haven’t looked up at one lately, do it. And as I’ve said before, winter is also a time of rest, pensiveness, and introspection.
But…as the season wears on, a sense of claustrophobia or ‘cabin fever’ starts to slowly set in. The house starts to feel just a little smaller. Motivation and inspiration wanes because a) your scenery hasn’t been changing much lately and b) if you are a person who is cold all of the time as it is (like me) winter basically makes your body constantly consider setting into hibernation, which is very counterproductive to any productivity. You can’t get stuff done if you don’t want to move.
Work tends to be more of a drag too. I go to work early in the morning and go home just as the sun is setting. At my workplace, windows are few and far between so my contact with that big burning star is minimal for months on end. While I still work technically an eight hour day as always, for some reason winter has a way of making those hours all-consuming. Life starts to revolve around work and sleep. And all of a sudden spring can’t get here fast enough.
But even if you absolutely abhor the season, I have found that winter does have a saving grace: it is a cultivator of dreams.
At the beginning of the season, I was ready to settle in, take a load off and just rest. I took a long hiatus from projects, spent more time reading or catching up on shows and movies. I let myself off the hook more as far as not feeling so guilty about just sitting around. The interesting thing about this is that only after I gave my mind and body a chance to quiet itself from the year that preceded it did little buds of dreams started resurfacing within me. I mean, you develop dreams and wish list and bucket list items all year long. But over time, one starts leading to another and soon you have dream overload. Suddenly you have more than you can hope to achieve and not enough time, resources or energy to pursue them all. As a result, they lay where they inevitably fall.
But…if you give yourself time to just stand still, the ones that truly hold that fire in your soul – those beautiful mountains in your mind – will come back to you.
As for me personally, I am subsisting through the rest of this winter on these such dreams. I am planning a spring hiking trip with my sister-in-law to jump start what I hope to be a long bucket list journey of exploring as many of our national parks as possible. I am directing my physical training so that I am ready to take on the full Tough Mudder this summer with a few of my sibs. We are also starting to get into the works a week long camping/hiking/fishing trip out west at the end of the summer. I have come to find that my major goal for the year is to immerse myself in as much outdoor activities as possible. I love being out so much, but for some dumb reason I have found more excuses in the past few years to not get submerge myself in it. Hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, hunting. All of it. I have been spending all of this time at the gym becoming stronger and more fit and conditioning myself, and by golly it’s time to put it to practical use.
My other major goal: woodworking. It’s a skill I’d really like to further hone this year. There are a few pieces I have in mind to add to our house. Unfortunately, seeing as our woodworking space is in our garage, which is currently only marginally warmer than our backyard, all projects have come to a standstill until the warmer weather has returned. But, as became quite apparent to me as I strolled through the wood section at Lowe’s yesterday, breathing in that intoxicating woody scent…I’m chomping at the bit to get things rolling.
Alas, winter is not yet over.
So for now…patience, grasshopper. These dreams could still use a little more time to cook anyway.
The important thing to remember is even when the doldrums overtake you, when life gets monotonous, or has thrown you too many curveballs, still take time and be brave enough to dream. Even if those dreams feel like long shots right now. Simply having them in front of you can be enough to pull you through whatever hard times you are having, no matter what walk of life you are on. Necessity is the mother of invention after all. Don’t be afraid to see where it takes you next.