I look forward to winter all year, but not because of the holidays. For me, winter is the time of year when I get the most done; I produce the most writing and I read the most steadily. My focus is at its height.
This is because winter inspires an enduring melancholy in me. It’s not depression–it’s not debilitating. It just removes the impulsive desire to try new things and go new places that rules me in summer and lingers into fall. It also makes me less anxious for romantic connection, which, as well all know, can be insanely distracting. Like the snow of the season, the melancholy has a muting effect on the more adventurous and extreme emotions that the other seasons permit.
In summer, I wake up to radiant sunshine and want to take a ferry to an island, or drive to someplace along the coast. Even if I have work to do (and often it’s work that I want to do) those desires are insistent, and sometimes become intrusive. I do enjoy them, but sometimes I wish there was an off switch. Winter is that switch, and I’m glad to engage it every year.
This might sound terrible to some people, and it might very well be for them. But not for me.
This week in Boston we will have two consecutive days of weather above 60 degrees, and both will have sun coverage. I already feel the “I must get outside and do [all the things]” urge, and I will at least go for a long run outside both days. But when that feeling appeared for the first time this week–the same one that you get when you wake up to sunshine on a beautiful summer morning, maybe the morning where you leave for some summer trip–my first desire was to mute it. My actual reaction at the first return of the summer adventure feeling was, “Aww crap. I don’t have time for this–there’s too much still to do.”
I like the seasons (except spring), and the differences that each one brings in me and the world. I wouldn’t wish away the summer, or live my whole life in winter.
But I’m not done with winter and the melancholic focus that it gives. I know many people want a few more weeks of summer every year, but I’d gladly forgo them in exchange for a few more weeks of winter.
Note: in the past, I have tried to explain the particulars of my winter melancholy to people, but only with partial success. Music often does better than words for some things having to do with emotion for me, so if you really want to know what I mean by “winter melancholy,” listen to Brian Crain’s “Dancing with Eyes Closed,” and then “Ballet of the Little Cafe,” in that order. The emotion you’re left with after the sequence is sort of what I mean.
This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.