It gets dark just after 4pm now. By the time I’ve eaten dinner and done a little of this and that around the house, I feel like it’s bedtime. I look at the clock — it’s 5:30pm. During any other season of the year, I’d be beside myself, giddy with the idea of found time (like waking up in the middle of the night and realizing that you still have, like, 6 hours before your alarm goes off), but now I grudgingly admit to myself that it’s too early — even for me — to actually crawl between the sheets.
I’m one of the lucky ones; because I start work at 6am (that’s not actually the lucky part), I’m done and clocking out of the office while it’s still light (that’s the lucky part), even in the midst of the darkest time of the year. Most people don’t see daylight except through their office windows or at lunchtime forays back out into the world. My work days almost always start in the dark (there is about a precious month in the middle of summer where the sun is almost up while I’m commuting in) and end in the light so it always feels like a normal work day, no matter the time of year, if that makes sense.
But now it feels like it’s time to go into hibernation mode. The thing foremost on my mind once I get home from work? Dinner and bed. Of course, I (almost) never do that — even as someone with a ridiculously early bedtime, 5:30pm is still, you know, late afternoon. At best, early evening. I push myself to work out, even though it’s a little disconcerting to go into the basement while it’s light and come up the stairs to a pitch-black house. I try not to turn on the TV just to have some light and noise filtering through the house (I tend to lose this battle more often than not). It’s not like I don’t have things to keep myself busy — there are always books that I’m excited to read and writing that I want to do — but all of those things pale in comparison to the thought of snuggling into bed.
It’s not like I don’t have this same amount of time during the summer, but it’s somehow different. I’m not going to head out for a walk before bed. I’m not going to sit out on my patio, reading a book, enjoying a beverage. I’m less likely to want to make mid-week plans with friends, feeling like even before the evening has begun, it’s past my bedtime.
Instead my instinct is to hunker down with blankets and the dog, passing time until it’s okay to head to bed.
I don’t think I’m alone in this (right?).
So, instead, I try and use my bear-like attitude to my advantage.
I use the time to turn inward and start preparing myself for the rush of the holidays and then both the starkness and sense of renewal that comes with January and February. I start to dream about possibilities, awakening myself to potential much like I look forward to the coming of warmer weather. In the midst of this dark, there’s a rebirth happening beneath the surface. I begin writing out plans to give me purpose during those first few months of the year when there might not otherwise be a lot of look forward to.
I often wonder if those people who live in perpetually sunny and warm places go through the same thing? Over the years, I’ve found that my life moves in the same rhythm as the seasons, slowing down once the winter snow and cold arrives and then gearing back up when the warm weather graces us again. Not a complete hibernation, but a time to regroup, relax, regenerate. Ideas have time to be noodled around, percolating on the back burners of my mind while going about my regular business. There’s still forward progress, but it’s with an ease and unhurried nature that will disappear once the birds start singing again.
I’m sure I’ll be one of those whiny people complaining about the snow and cold soon enough, but right now I’m taking the time to appreciate the slow down that comes with this time of year (well, at least once the holidays are over with). Less daylight, more sleep, time for new ideas and fresh insights.