The Shortest Day of the Year

 

I feel a lot better now that I’ve given up hope.

OK, I’m just joking (I do have hope) but it does describe the melancholy way I feel.  It is a battle of cycles – if I feel bad, don’t worry it will pass; if I feel good, don’t worry it will pass, too.

Over the years, I stopped trying to figure it out.  Too much caffeine?  Sugar?  Food?  Not enough exercise?  Too much stress?  Get better sleep?  Changed all those things.  To some extent, they work, but not completely.

Perhaps I need to change my perspective – trust more, believe harder in God’s goodness, in myself, set goals, etc., etc.  No, I’m not going to think my way out of this.

I know I have a good life, that there are people who truly care about me, and that God is good and good towards me.  I don’t have to pay a counselor to tell me to make a gratitude list:  a good job with respected coworkers and employer who treats us well, a faithful wife and children who call, a warm and decorated home, good meals, and a dog of unconditional love.

It’s just feelings.

In younger, stupider days, I may have thought that I could and should “fix” it.  Maybe porn will help.  Or some addictive substance or behavior.  Or allowing myself to be resentful and going about as a raging, abusive buffoon.  But while avoiding these indiscretions may not make me happy, I know beyond doubt that partaking in them is sure to make me miserable.  They truly don’t help.

I know such depressive talk doesn’t apply to everyone. Some have a very positive outlook on life – they know what their dream is and they pursue it.  They truly feel excited about the simplest of things.  They don’t overthink life.

Others of us are helpers – doing the next right thing to help others along.  We suit up, show up, and do the best we can.  We pray but hear silence.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the shadows wondering if we have missed a turn.

On a check-in call this morning, someone said today is the shortest day of the year.  This descent into the end of things and darkness may explain my mood (at least this go-round).  Someone else said that it is fitting that Christmas is this time of year as the world descends into darkness.  A people who sat in darkness saw a great light (Matthew 4:16 quoting Isaiah 9:2).

Hope is being faithful to God and doing the next right thing for those around you.  You may feel great.  You may feel bad.  But it will pass.  Hang on.  There is light to come.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Sorry, David. I didn’t see you listed on Group Writing, so we both are up on the topic! We’ve just taken a different path. I love your post–it captures my ambivalence at this time of year. Thank you.

    • #1
  2. David B. Sable Coolidge
    David B. Sable
    @DavidSable

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Sorry, David. I didn’t see you listed on Group Writing, so we both are up on the topic! We’ve just taken a different path. I love your post–it captures my ambivalence at this time of year. Thank you.

    Honestly, these were just thoughts I had while jogging this morning (couldn’t sleep since early morning).  After I wrote it I thought, “hey that meets the theme of group writing.”  So I kind of crashed the party.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    David B. Sable (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Sorry, David. I didn’t see you listed on Group Writing, so we both are up on the topic! We’ve just taken a different path. I love your post–it captures my ambivalence at this time of year. Thank you.

    Honestly, these were just thoughts I had while jogging this morning (couldn’t sleep since early morning). After I wrote it I thought, “hey that meets the theme of group writing.” So I kind of crashed the party.

    Not at all! It’s beautiful. We can party together.

    • #3
  4. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    David B. Sable: Others of us are helpers – doing the next right thing to help others along.  We suit up, show up, and do the best we can.  We pray but hear silence.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the shadows wondering if we have missed a turn.

    That pretty much describes me these days, although I embrace the cold and darkness of winter.  I find comfort in both.  But there is also comfort in duty and just waiting out the cycles.  That is wisdom I think. 

    I remember reading in some novel that the year starts dying on June 21st.  After that the darkness increases every day.  So remember that Dec 21st is the nadir, and the light will increase every day.

    • #4
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    David B. Sable:

    Hope is being faithful to God and doing the next right thing for those around you.  You may feel great.  You may feel bad.  But it will pass.  Hang on.  There is light to come.

    This. This is how I get through. 

    It was eight years ago this week that we found out Little Miss Anthrope had contracted meningitis after three brain surgeries in four days earlier in the month. We left Christmas Eve Mass early because she had a headache. I remember the darkness spent on watch in the hospital those days — through New Year’s. But, I can also look back on how the light returned — and then faded again. That life is good when it isn’t incredibly painful. And maybe the pain is God’s way of making us less attached to this world — this life.

    So, we all should pray for perseverance. We’re gonna need it at some point or another. 

    Merry Christmas, everyone! 

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    So, we all should pray for perseverance. We’re gonna need it at some point or another. 

    Merry Christmas, everyone! 

    As always, your courage and devotion is an inspiration, WC!

    • #6
  7. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    I’m probably the worst counselor you could have (a curmudgeon with an attitude), but I think most melancholia comes from anxiety about the future.  But the future is not really your direct responsibility, so faggetaboutitt.  Do something.  Call somebody.  Make a plan.  Find something to look forward to.  Look around for those incomplete projects, pick one and finish it.  Be patient with yourself.  If your team loses, wish them luck the next time.  Don’t let minor, inconsequential things become drivers of more melancholy.  Save your strength for the BIG things.   Don’t procrastinate but be patient.  The Holidays can be an accounting of the year’s failures or a celebration of today’s joy.  Give yourself a pass, or even a B+.  Make someone smile.  Remember when you were a little kid on Christmas Eve?  You were certain of a future filled with joy.

    It still is.

    Feel better now?

    • #7
  8. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    And maybe the pain is God’s way of making us less attached to this world — this life.

    I am persuaded of this truth.

    • #8
  9. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    ” I know I have a good life, that there are people who truly care about me, and that God is good and good towards me.  I don’t have to pay a counselor to tell me to make a gratitude list:  a good job with respected coworkers and employer who treats us well, a faithful wife and children who call, a warm and decorated home, good meals, and a dog of unconditional love.”

     

    Gratitude is a survival strategy

    • #9
  10. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    “Perhaps I need to change my perspective – trust more, believe harder in God’s goodness, in myself, set goals etc. etc.  No, I’m not going to think my way out of this.”

    Selective indifference is also a survival strategy.  One has to decide that some things simply don’t deserve one’s attention.

    • #10
  11. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    but I think most melancholia comes from anxiety about the future. 

    I’ve adopted the saying, “don’t let worries about tomorrow ruin today.”

    • #11
  12. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    I always find that it is a good thing we have so many celebrations this time of year. Otherwise, I’d just have to hibernate through this gloominess. I find myself getting excited for December 21st because then I know that every day after there will be a teeny bit more light. It’s hard to notice at first, but in a couple of weeks… God bless!

    • #12
  13. Sam Thatcher
    Sam
    @Sam

    Today was my grandfather’s favorite day of the year. He was a devout Methodist and Optimist (really, a group of which he was a member; I believe they even had a creed). I think of him often, gone 14 years now, but specially today. Also on the first day of summer. His favorite season of heat and light, but his least favorite day was June 21.

    • #13
  14. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    All the days now get longer🙂

    • #14
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    This reflection on light in a dark season is part of our December theme: “Winter Lights and Dark Winter Nights.” We have several open days left. Stop by today to reserve a day.

    • #15
  16. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    I’ve adopted the saying, “don’t let worries about tomorrow ruin today.”

    Matthew 6:34.

    • #16
  17. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    I always find that it is a good thing we have so many celebrations this time of year. Otherwise, I’d just have to hibernate through this gloominess. I find myself getting excited for December 21st because then I know that every day after there will be a teeny bit more light. It’s hard to notice at first, but in a couple of weeks… God bless!

    I once got curious about how much the daylight increased every day, so I took the difference in hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year and the longest day of the year, and divided by the number of days.  Came out, as best I can recall, to about a minute and a half in the morning and a minute and a half in the evening.  Then I looked it up on the internet.  Seems it varies by season, and, I suspect, by latitude.

    • #17
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