Today is January 9th and it still hasn't gotten that cold here in the Chicago area. We've had a few mornings with some slight flurries and some temperatures in the low teens—but frankly not that many. I am still running in shorts several times per week and haven't seen a reason to switch to tights yet. What a gift.
This, however, might be a problem. Winter—snow—AND—cold—is important. Important for the trees. Important for the pollen count next summer. Important for creating a great deal of snow melt for the spring. Winter strengthens our world—makes it more resilient to disease. Winter kills off bacteria. Winter enhances the circle of life and participates in evolution by killing off the weakest of the animals—leaving the strongest and smartest to survive and create another generation.
Winter is a good metaphor for life. It represents death and dying in our lives. Death is needed.
No matter what anyone says, no one enjoys the pain and discomfort of howling wind and bitter cold. We enjoy the fireplace when we get back to the house—but the cold seeps into our marrow and makes us cold at our core. Getting let go by the company you trusted with your future is like that. Failing miserably while chasing your dreams is like that. Hearing the doctor tell you that you have cancer is like that. Discovering your children are into drugs is like that. Divorce is like that. Losing a parent is like that.
So now what? Winter is coming—if it isn't already here for you. How do you respond to winter? How do you respond to not being in control. How do you respond to the depth of emptiness that comes when you realize that you can't make it better? You can't fix it?
You survive the storm. Or not.
You recover from the storm when it's over.
Winter is coming. But so is spring. Winter is necessary. Your winter. Your howling wind and bitter cold. The dark, despairing, and dangerous winter season in your life right now comes prior to spring. It has its purpose. You don't need to even know what that purpose is. Embrace it! Stay with it! Grow stronger because of it!
Personally, my metaphorical winter has been going on for about six months and I am so ready for spring—and I can feel it coming. I'm absolutely ready for the trees to bloom and for the sunshine to warm my life. But for me, winter was necessary. I am stronger, clearer about my place in the world, and my soil is more fertile than ever.
I love winter. Will you embrace it with me?