Solstice 2016: Dark Days

A couple of years ago, I started writing each day during the days leading up to the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice.  Although I know I haven't frequented this space often in the last few months, I'm looking forward to writing again over the next few days -- my Seven Days of Solstice -- about what I'm thinking and feeling this time of year.

At the risk of stating the obvious, today seemed dark.  The spectacular super moon of Monday was nowhere to be seen this morning.  Although the day started cold with high clouds, the clouds swooped in by late morning so that by two o'clock it was gray and cold, making you feel like everywhere you went you were standing in the shade.  I turned on the Christmas tree light at 3:30 p.m. and they brightened the room.  It was that kind of gray.

Weather aside, other parts of my life are feeling dark as well as of late. On Monday, I spent time with someone I have not seen in too long.  She and I have been friends since 1992.  She is a mentor to me.  A friend.  A master gardener.  An inspiration. A person who makes everything she does look easy.  Our visit was bittersweet, however, because I visited her in a rehabilitation center where she is spending her last days.  She has stage four cancer and her time is precious.  She is so much herself -- yet with so much gone already.  I am so sad and so happy to have seen her to say good bye.  

And today, despite an intelligent and rejuvinating conversation about life and goals and the state of the world with a dear friend and colleague, I remain very down about the future of America, especially with so many foxes being appointed to guard the hen house.  I am void of the optimism of my friend and many other smart people I know.  And I have no faith that, even if millions of phone calls are made to the right people, America's electoral college will demand a recount and somehow ensure that only a person fit to govern gets the Presidency. At this point, I'm not even sure who that would be.

Gloom notwithstanding, I'm terribly grateful for the bright spots in these dark days -- and there are some.  Perhaps I notice them more on days like this?  That bit of bright conversation with my fellow co-op parents at the end of the school day.  Warm cups of tea at my desk.  Baked potatoes.  Board games after dinner with my family.  Starting a new book. 

I also hope that I am getting better at dealing with the dark days than I used to be.  Not dreading them.  Not wasting energy disliking them.  Wearing a long warm coat to keep warm.  Taking Vitamin D in large quantities . . . . As for the emotional dark days, I'm trying to internalize my own parenting . . . I coach my little boy to "let the sad feelings be with you until they are done."  I'm practicing that.  

Photo: Super moon setting over the Olympic Mountains at dawn.  December 12, 2016. Seattle, Washington.


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