There are so many other things I should be doing right now besides writing this. My house is in disarray. My horses need grooming. My tack room is dusty. Work is piled up, minor crises balanced atop teetering piles of everyday tasks. My personal life resembles my Inbox: requests, problems, crucial projects and spam all jumbled together and overflowing like a junk drawer that, after years of jiggling and shoving and swearing and cajoling and I-really-need-to-clean-this-shit-out-ing, finally can’t be forced shut. It protrudes, half open, and later that day you bang your hip on it. It bruises.
This time of year usually finds me brooding and angsty. It’s a little known fact that this is the shortest month because, here in Minnesota, we wouldn’t survive another three days of February. Never mind the calendar, this is Midwinter. The snow is deep. The cold is steady and endless, purgatorial. I’ve seen some wretchedly hot summers. It can be miserable, but where heat pushes us outward to our baking skins; the cold draws us low into our brittle bones. Heat smothers us; the cold takes our breath. Heat saps but cold strips. My life is in as much or as little chaos as it is in July, but it looks different now, with the leaves ripped off and bare limbs showing. It gets dark so fast.
When I’m troubled or angry or confused, I look for the sense in it. I examine, dissect, assess; clear the way for the wild flash of insight. I reach for wisdom that transcends the mundane: the true, spiritual meaning behind the everyday chore of emotion. What’s the message, the lesson? What am I supposed to be learning? I’m convinced that whatever-I’m–going-through is a reflection and mysterious aspect of the Great Whatever. I want my suffering to be significant, revelatory, ameliorating. What I want from life, more than anything, is to understand. I lust for illumination.
There are no answers for me in the cold, just endless tasks performed in the dark. In the absence of message or meaning, the only option is to embrace the mundane. Bereft of spiritual revelation, I notice that commitment and experience do not come through insight. They are earned. I cannot analyze or express or understand this. I can only know it. And the only way of knowing is in doing. Answer email, groom the horses, dust. Put my house in order. Keep going. This is February. This is the lesson of winter: endure.
And for pity’s sake, book a vacation.