Mind of Winter

During these slow, cold winter months, the raw quickenings of Spring that I look so forward to each year begin to seem more like a fever dream than an inevitability. Lately, a lonely inner chill has slowed me to a still point of sorrow and depression.

This seems to be happening to so many of us right now, even if  things are going fairly well. And when we’re worried about the current dire political situation, money, loved ones, work or lack of work, or enduring ill health, each gray day can feel like an isolating hammer blow.

At times like this it’s vital that we take at least a few minutes each day to actively care for ourselves. The Greater Good in Action website sponsored by University of Berkeley offers practical ways to handle stress or sorrow — such as this Self-Compassion Break — that can offer subtle, but real relief.

Meanwhile, a great poet can take the mind of winter and the winter of our minds and turn them into a song of survival. Wallace Stevens’ The Snow Man reminds us of the capacity we have within us to simply observe what we feel and see, rather than label them negatively.

And so, in a moment of attentiveness, we know we are fully connected to the world.

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.