Between Winter and Spring
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What do you call this season, between winter and spring? No Man’s Land, perhaps. I went out for a walk this morning with a friend here in Maryland, and we enjoyed the blue skies and slightly warmer temperatures (though we still needed a scarf and gloves). But now, as afternoon approaches, the clouds have filled in all the blue, and blocked out the sun – and I have just turned on my light box to maintain a decent mood and energy level, and keep the words flowing. (They tend to dry to a trickle in the gloomy weather?)
Shelley, in his Ode to the West Wind, ended on a hopeful note: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” We need cheerleaders, and his words were true. But so were Robert Frost’s words when he wrote “Two Tramps in Mud Time.”
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
Whether you’re a tramp in New England on an April day or a psychiatrist in Maryland at the beginning of March, you should know that the No Man’s Land between winter and spring – or spring itself for that matter – is a tease. One moment, you’re bathed in heavenly sunlight, and the next . . . well, it’s back to winter’s gloom.
I had this experience recently in a slightly different form when I returned from a trip to the Caribbean. While I was there, I felt no hint of the Winter Blues that had been troubling me in the preceding weeks. I cavorted and gamboled by the seashore like an expert (though I have never had any formal lessons in either cavorting or gamboling). Somehow it came naturally – a primitive instinct released by the sun.
When I came home, I was feeling so good that I didn’t think much about my mood or the Winter Blues. I neglected my light therapy. The result was . . . not good. Gone were all thoughts of either cavorting or gamboling. What I realized then is that for those of us who struggle through the dark days, we just can’t bank sunlight – not for very long anyway. But at some level, many of us think we can.
Well, I hope I’ve learned my lesson. What we can do is to build on the good mood left by an hour or two of sunlight (or a week in the Caribbean) by not missing a day of light therapy so that we can maintain the momentum.
Bottom line: My light boxes will stay out and ready until I can be sure that the sun has returned consistently. If you’re a fellow SAD sufferer, you may want to do the same.
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Wishing you Light & Transcendence,