Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Water Walking into the Darkness
Well, my SAD friends, it is that time of the year, when the sun goes down early and comes up late, and there are fewer minutes of daylight every day. For people who have SAD, it is the least favorite time of the year. SAD is the acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. People who have SAD tend to become sad when the long nights and short days move in. It stinks. Of course I am still processing personal grief along with the seasonal changes. Last winter when I entered a hermit-like state and didn’t leave the house much for four and a half months, I asked myself, is this grief, or is it plain old depression? I decided it was probably a little of each, and I also decided that it didn’t matter. The important thing at that point was to sit home by myself in an emotional fog and not have to go out to face the world. Yeah. Looking back now I think that was mostly grief. For years I noticed that October was a time when depression would overtake me. My life could be fine, with nothing to gripe about, but the darkness would descend and I’d be motionless and sad, lacking the will to do much anything. Many people here in the northern latitudes experience this autumn downturn. We trade remedies: vitamin D3 and light boxes are mentioned often. I keep meaning to get a light box, but in its absence, I find that exercise helps. Following my recent angiogram, I felt motivated for the first time in my life to exercise, and signed up for water walking at the Vashon Athletic Club. I go three days a week. The class attendees are an eclectic collection of islanders, some whom I’ve known for years and others whom I’m meeting for the first time. The classes are real workouts, but we also find time to chat, and that is pleasant. Everyone is friendly. It is overall a positive experience. I am grateful to have this opportunity, especially because for the last few years I thought I had too many cranky arthritic joints to be able to do any exercise. In the water I can move. The things that have helped me with depression and grief have been writing, singing, and now water walking. It’s good to have few things to do that I know will help, especially this year. The problem with depression, or grief, is that even if you know what would help, you usually do not feel up to doing it. That’s the bear trap of depression, holding you motionless and in pain. I told myself the other day that I need to make myself sing even if I don’t feel like it, because in a few minutes I’d feel better. That thought started a song lyric unreeling in my mind. If there’s anything more cheering than singing, writing, or exercise, it’s getting a check in the mail. Oh. Yes, that cheers me up, too, but I meant to say it’s writing a song. If you are creative in any way, you know what I mean. The feeling you get when you’re in the zone of doing your art or craft, creating something that did not exist before, is the best feeling in the world. However good or bad a song turns out to be – and I’ve written plenty that didn’t make the cut of public performance – at the time of creating that song, I’m in love with it. So I wrote this lyric, and now I’m working on getting the tune together. Where shall I sing it? I don’t know yet. In my office, for the moment. Here’s a verse, so you get the drift: “Today I’m feeling very low Sing anyway The winter sun has lost its glow Sing anyway There is no reason more or less For sadness or for happiness I lift my guitar, my guitar lifts me And I sing Anyway” The title of the song is (surprise!), “Sing Anyway.” That’s what I mean to do. Between singing and water walking, I’ll get through another dark season. Although I have considered going to visit friends in Australia until next March or so. Failing that, it’s the guitar and the swimming pool.