Thawing My Winter of Discontent
“They were pleasant spring days, in which the winter of man's discontent was thawing as well as the earth, and the life that had lain torpid began to stretch itself.” –Henry David Thoreau, Walden
It’s worthwhile to revisit Walden in the spring, if even for just a few pages. Thoreau’s meticulous documentation of the coming of spring reminds me to slow down and take notice of the natural changes taking place all around. To notice the first tree blossoms, the emerging daylilies, the sprouts beneath fall debris, the return of the songbirds- each day a sign of spring worth noting, worth slowing down to appreciate.
I rediscovered the passage above and had been unintentionally rolling it around in my head over the past week- an accidental mantra.
For me, 2017 felt like one long winter. I was overwhelmed by the barrage of chaos surrounding the White House. As someone that holds a deep reverence for a healthy and functioning democracy, which includes healthy and functional political parties, I felt helpless, despondent and apathetic.
The #MeToo movement brought up emotions that were deeply suppressed or better left in the dark. I was forced to deal with feelings I’m typically not on a first-name basis with like rage, hatred, and despair. I experienced internal chaos about what to share and with whom, still afraid to give voice to deeply held secrets, stories, and thoughts.
After ankle surgery in December 2016, I slid into different lifestyle choices. I allowed myself to work through lunch, skip workouts, and avoid running- a hobby that historically brought me joy and peace.
I became consumed with work and stopped spending time with friends and family.
I am joyful, enthusiastic, silly, and energetic. In 2017 I slumped into a period of lethargy, isolation, and a general feeling of flatness. I was surviving my life, not living it. I was depressed and worse, completely unaware of my depression.
Of course, there were fun weekends and bright moments. But on the whole, a hardness settled deeply into my thoughts, personality, behaviors, and attitude.
I think this quote from Thoreau resonated with me over the past week because I feel that the winter of my discontent is thawing.
In this late, late spring, these first warm days feel sweeter and more precious than any spring day I can recall. The sun hot on my face is penetrating deep into the dark spaces and filling me up with honey and sweetness and Vitamin D. At long last, I see flickers of a world in color, no longer grayscale. All around me, nature holds promises of more after the long, dark winter.
Like the ground and the ice on our lakes, my hardness is softening. Like the little sprouts, I am stretching and growing. Like the tight little buds, I too hold the promise of vivid colors and immense beauty.