There’s something in dark weather. Something behind the eyes; fuzzy, drowsy, white. Water on the brain. We don’t hibernate per se, but the darkness makes us lose a bit of ourselves. Perhaps that’s why we instinctively work so hard in autumn. Work to harvest all the fruits and make them into jams before winter comes to rot them, and us.
We lose a bit of our energy reserves. That quantity arbitrarily determined by an equation in our brains, adding up all the factors we have little control over and spitting out a paltry number for the day ahead, such as it is. Maybe light accounts for just 10% of it, but it can feel like so much more.
Maybe that’s why they run, or ‘spin’, or gym. Why they get out of bed early. Keep going, keep swimming like Dory, because if you stop, you lose yourself. Don’t fall down now, you will never get up.
But what if you forgot? What if you can’t? Maybe the sickness came and put you in bed for a week. Maybe the parts that make up your life went critical all at once, and you paused, exhausted. Maybe you were too focused on one thing you didn’t notice the cold envelop around you, and now you’re already in darkness.
It watches you, the darkness. It sits in that ocular space, making your eyelids 10% heavier. Making brightness 10% dimmer. Making certainty 10% doubtful and joy 10% bitter.
Ten percent. It’s nothing, really. In any government they’d be thought of as the extreme flank and largely ignored, but in public we hear their voices loudly, inflated, everywhere. Shouting, scapegoating, baying like nightmare horses.
You don’t seem unhappy, they tell you. I never would have guessed. You are caught between patting yourself on the back for your obviously unrecognised acting talent, and the anxiety that everyone is totally, absolutely wrapped and tangled in the barbed fairy lights of their own lives that they’d only really notice, only truly understand, when it’s past closing time and the lights have been switched off.
But you’ve been here before, in these dark days. You came out the other side. Not stronger, because what doesn’t kill you usually cripples you somehow. More scars to bear. You wonder what shape they’ll take this year.
Because they’re time-limited, these days. We live on an ovoid mass spinning around a spherical fusion reactor, and with no other significant forces to factor in we figured out, through the advanced science of counting, about how many days it would be like this.
You find coping mechanisms like twinkly lights and warm mugs of cocoa, like binge worthy Netflix shows and smoky whiskies, and people you can cling to in the cold dark.
March 6th is my birthday. That’s my anchor. The string I tied around myself, the breadcrumb trail I follow that reminds me it’s just about over. The sun sets at ten to six on my birthday. It’s still quite cold, usually about 10 degrees C, but it’s light that matters. The clocks will change soon.
So this year, for my birthday, I will have a winter survival party. Because making it through the dark days is an achievement, and I will wear those scars like badges of honour.