Saturday, January 15, 2011


I've always had a hard time feeling energized in the Winter.  Seasonal Affective Disorder, they call it - the "Winter blues".  Some regard it as a signifier of major depression; I see it as a hibernation atavism.

In the book "Outliers" Malcolm Gladwell writes about French vineyard workers who would spend the Winter in bed.  Literally, the whole Winter, all in one bed, huddled against the cold, a seasonal indolence brought on by the conditions under which they worked.  The description sounds very much like a form of hibernation.

I've been able to avoid this issue somewhat for the past few years by working in a brightly-lit factory.  Before that, in my previous job, I kept a desk lamp in my windowless office despite the bright fluorescent office lighting.  But now my situation is different:  I find myself without a job, without a routine, without the regimentation of the work day and the work routine.  I have tasks that I have to accomplish, sure:  paperwork and online forms to be filled out, job searches to be done, bills to be paid.  I could create an artificial routine for myself, of course.  But the short days and cold weather make it seem much more reasonable and even desirable to stay in bed as long as possible.

Last time I lost my job at was at the end of February 2007, and was able to take advantage of my unemployment throughout the Spring and part of the Summer by throwing myself at the dozens of home projects that needed to be done.  Nearly four years later, many of those projects need to be done again.  Unfortunately, January is not an ideal time for doing all the things I have been unable to do because of my work schedule:  scrape and repaint the front porch, the front steps, the rusting wrought-iron fence, and do some concrete repairs.  All I can do is look at those things and hope that I will have time to get them done when May and June roll around.

The days are getting longer, and have been since before Christmas.  The Sun is rising earlier and setting later.  We are crawling inexorably toward the Spring Equinox, and then the longest day of the year on the Summer Solstice.

But for now, it is Winter.  The days are short, the nights are long, and both are very cold.  Time to hibernate - at least for a few hours.

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