Monday, February 12, 2018

Winter of Content

I've noted previously that ever since moving to the U.S. from Australia in 1994, I've had a love/hate relationship with Minnesota winters.

I loathe, for instance, the cold and the ice (the snow, it's true, I'm not quite as adverse to). Yet, on the other hand, I appreciate the pronounced seasons of my second home here in the North Star State, something that's quite different from Australia; and I love how winter stirs in me the desire to go deep within, to retreat and take stock of my life in ways that are quiet and mindful. And, of course, I love the festivals of this time of year, the winter solstice and Christmastide, with all their rich and interconnected symbolism.

I'm definitely not one who tries to conquer winter. By this I mean I'm okay with allowing winter's adverse attributes to influence my decision-making around where and when I go places. True, such attributes don't totally dictate my movements, but for sure I'm much more inclined to bend like a reed to the season's call to hunker down, rest, be reflective. I really think that when we do this we honor and say yes to winter's invitation to become that bit more attuned to the natural world around us; a world to which, because of all our technological advances and their accompanying expectations, we can easily forget we are connected. I've come to believe that when we establish a resonance with the seasons and connect accordingly with the natural world, we honor Sacred Mystery immanent in all things.

I was reminded of all these thoughts when I read a piece in the Star Tribune last month by Kim Ode. As you'll see, Ode shares much of my thinking on the season of winter and its invitation to recharge ourselves by taking a "seasonal state-of-mind shift into slow" and doing whatever brings a "sense of quiet satisfaction."

Following are excerpts from Ode's January 7 Star Tribune piece.

This is the season of hibernation, when we feel gently compelled to hunker down, to snuggle in, to stare into a fire's embers. [. . .] Humans can't hibernate as bears do . . . [but] maybe we once hibernated, back when we, too, were at the mercy of the elements, when caves were cold, firewood scanty, food scarce and geese still were the sole possessors of their down. But then we kept evolving, going on to invent furnaces, grocery stores, insulation, long underwear and cocoa. [. . .] It's thrilling, really, what humanity has accomplished in a few odd millennia. But we've let things get out of hand. We rarely slow down anymore. And when we do, we fret.

[. . .] But [by not slowing down and taking a break] we're sabotaging ourselves. Taking a break actually helps us become more successful. The Harvard Business Review spelled it out in an article, "Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure."

In short, if we deny ourselves stretches of recovery time, we increase our chances of screwing up at work or – just as bad, maybe worse – screwing up at home.

So let's consider the question of recharging not in week's vacation doses, nor in 20-minute naps, but rather in a seasonal state-of-mind shift into slow.

[. . .] Happily, our winter climate is ade for slowing down. [. . ]. Don't misunderstand. Slowing down doesn't mean stopping. Human hibernation is more about spending time at a different pace, doing less for a while, or doing anything more thoughtfully. [. . .] We actually were introduced to this pace last year when "hygge" hit the headlines as a rediscovered lifestyle trend. Nordic in origin – Danish, specifically – it's a way of living with a sense of conviviality and comfort. Lots of candles are involved, providing psychic warmth.

Hygge can be a private pursuit, but it also encourages gathering with friends for conversations, for board games, for supping soup that began by soaking dried beans for 12 hours. Because what's the rush?

Bottom line: Whether you call it hygge or hibernating, this is the time of year to do whatever brings you a sense of quiet satisfaction. Maybe it's puttering about the kitchen, chopping vegetables for that soup, or cleaning out the junk drawer.

Maybe it's sorting through old photos and letting yourself get sidetracked by memories. If you don't complete the task, that's okay. You can't flunk hibernation.

– Kim Ode
Excerpted from "Go Slow, for the Winter of Your Content"
Star Tribune
January 7, 2018

Related Off-site Link:
Feeling Frantic? Disconnected? Isolated? Take a Moment to Learn About the Slow Movement – Kim Ode (Star Tribune, January 7, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Three Winter Gatherings
In Wintry Minnesota, An Australian Afternoon Tea
A Winter Reflection
Winter Beauty
Winter Light
Winter . . . Within and Beyond

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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