Light & Shadow

Got something I’ve wanted to write out for a little while now. Or, as is more commonly said, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but…”

December brings early darkness in our part of the world, and for me, much increased pensiveness and moodiness. Something about driving down dark, cold streets and seeing warm light coming from house windows tends to make me feel a kind of sad longing, and I tend to get lost in my ruminations as I go from place to place. I don’t really enjoy feeling it, but have sort of accepted it as a given in the winter months.

Several weeks ago I had turned my car on to my home street and the old, familiar, sad pattern was happening again. It was dark and I felt that sensation welling up inside of me. But something else that’s happened a few times this year happened again; I saw the feelings and thought patterns coming and consciously decided “no, I don’t have to feel this way every time.” And then it occurred to me; the street, this place, isn’t any different during the day. So why doesn’t day carry this same automatic association? I supposed it was because my perspective was different.

It was like a lightbulb moment. All of that longing feeling evaporated as I repeated to myself that day or night doesn’t matter — it’s the same place. If I don’t let the sad stuff overtake me during the day, I don’t have to think of it at night either. It might seem obvious when said out loud, but to me it was an important realization.

A few weeks after that I was in Winnipeg for a First Aid training session (that’s right! I’m a certified First Aider now!). Winnipeg is also a place that has carried a lot of complicated feelings and associations ever since my time attending university, starting in 2002. I’ve had a lot of fun adventures there, but at times I was also lonelier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’d go entire days where I said no more than a handful of words to other humans, and usually a couple of those words were just a “thank you” to the bus drivers. And of course, since University terms happen over the winter months, the dark and cold of December brings a lot of this back to me while I move through the city. Even though it’s been years!

So the First Aid session was over and I was slowly driving out of downtown. There was still some daylight left but it was fading rapidly, and I knew sundown would probably send me back to thinking about those times again, especially since I was alone in the vehicle. Stopped at a red light I caught myself ruminating on how sad and depressing and isolating city life can be, and for my “proof” I was watching the faces of pedestrians as they crossed, and drivers in other cars. I thought they looked miserable, and no wonder! They live here!

Then, my phrase came back to me — hey, this place isn’t really any different in the dark than it is in the day. I drove in during the morning hours and wasn’t assuming everybody around me was miserable, so what was different now? Just my perspective. And then it dawned on me; all of the sadness and misery I saw in the people around me was just me, projecting my own history. Pretty much everybody I saw had a neutral expression, as you do when you’re going somewhere in your own little world. But I was choosing to read their faces as negatively as possible.

Again, my rumination evaporated. The rest of the drive out of Winnipeg was far more positive, and I found myself smiling and appreciating small moments of beauty as the sun continued to set. I’ve been back to the city since then, in the dark and the cold, and have felt far, far freer as I did so. I felt like, for the first time, I’m letting some of those old, sad days go.

Anyway, I’m still thinking about the idea of things being the same in light as they are in shadow.

Hey, it’s Christmas Eve! As I write this I’m listening to the Nutcracker Suite and sitting in Cassidy’s room, hoping she’ll eventually get bored of looking at books and lie down for a nap. After posting this I might lean back in this chair and nap as well. Anyway! I hope that your Christmas season is full of warmth and good cheer, no matter how you choose to observe (or not) or with whom you gather.

Thing I Saw: A rabbit in our backyard early this morning. I thought of trying to send Bentley the Dog after it but today it just seemed unnecessary.

Thing I Learned: Rocker Jon Bon Jovi got his singing career started on a novelty Star Wars Christmas album, of all things. That’s him, on the verses!

I’m Grateful For: Christmas!

A nice song from an even nicer wintery album that I discovered recently!