kind of blue
If you’d ask Thoreau about how to manage a blue season, he’d say
“Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.”
That’s quite a different approach than my tendency to want to hibernate until the blue storm has passed. I’m in good company, though, as I lean deeply into John O’Donohue’s advice that says
“This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall, Until the bitter weather passes.”
Whether you lean towards one philosophy or another, blue times are precisely those times when we’re being asked to not look away. To not bury our heads in our resolutions to optimize ourselves or over-indulge in our preferred forms of self-medicating to the point where we can no longer see compassionately or clearly.
During a recent January walk, I wrestled with this balance. The desire to be home in stillness. And the desire to find a tiny home in the heart of the physical landscape around me and under my feet as I moved my body.
Barry Lopez says that
“Intimacy with the physical Earth apparently awakens in us, at some wordless level, a primal knowledge of the nature of our emotional as well as our biological attachments to physical landscapes. Based on my own inquiries, my impression is that we experience this primal connection regularly as a diffuse, ineffable pleasure, experience it as the easing of a particular kind of longing.”
On this particular day, there was no “brute nature” to cause me to “be cold and hungry and weary”. So my aim at listening to my duelling desires was to walk intentionally and more slowly than usual. And more quietly. Letting the usual mind-chatter sputter then flitter off with the chickadees and cardinals. And engaging in more soft attention to what was around me.
I set my gaze on the long road of solitude ahead.
To the cushiony, pine needle pathways under my feet.
Then to pileated woodpecker’s handiwork.
To the vibrant green moss that stubbornly refuses to slumber in winter reminding me of Camus’ belief in an invincible spring.
To the compelling path alongside a neighbouring cemetery.
Connecting to place as companion.
At a natural pace.
Leaving no trace.