It’s Only 7 Weeks:
I used to get fairly discouraged when daylight savings time ended. It was actually very foolish of me considering 1) I have no control over daylight savings time ending 2) due to the tilt of the earth there are only so many hours of sunlight in the winter days 3) it pays off come summertime with all the extra daylight.
Out here in South Dakota I enjoy the earlier hours of daylight in exchange for fewer in the afternoon because I’m up at about 5:50am each day. The sun is rising during my ‘walk’ back from breakfast and it’s a pleasant way to start the morning, all things considered. I still think back to quarantine and not being able to go outside, so even a one minute walk is worth appreciating.
The time between the end of daylight savings time and the winter solstice is roughly seven weeks. Then the days get longer again, albeit at a slow pace. Only seven weeks in a fifty-two week year. I know what the Stoics would say – if it is not up to you it should mean nothing to you. In this instance, it’s better than that, I’m a fan of it. The darkness and the cold make being here easier. If we are going to be locked inside so much it is far better when it is not 85 degrees and sunny outside – so in a way, I’m happy winter is arriving, I’m thrilled it gets dark early. It also helps with my reading, writing, and studying.
There is a part of me that despises admitting to this, but maybe I’m actually (I can’t believe I’m writing this) a fan of being forced inside three and a half days a week. If we had rec every day I could see my former self going frequently, using it as a distraction from the current situation. Instead, I’m surrounded by recovering methamphetamine users whose company I thoroughly enjoy. Guys I never would have met in my previous life but who I now spend countless hours with. I have even more time to read. Time to write. Time to play the keyboard. If I get restless there is always a chess game in the study room, a movie in the basement, or a conversation in the hallway. Or even better, I can recognize why I might be restless and tame those irrational thoughts. So these long, dark nights go by almost as quick as one could hope for. Quite the contrast from looking forward to bed so I could check off another day.
You could say I have found ‘freedom’ in here in a sense of how restricted I am. There is only so much I can do inside this unit. For some, being presented with unlimited choices can be overwhelming. Anxiety traps them in decision overload over what the best choice is, what they want to do. I can find entertainment in here, albeit through only so much…freedom through limitation. Do I want those limitations indefinitely? No, of course I would prefer to be free and ‘overwhelmed’ by all the activities and people back home. For now, however, I can manage.
Who knows where covid will be by spring and what restrictions will be imposed on us come that time. It’s something I put little thought into because I have no control over it. For now, I’m making the best of the slower pace of dark nights, being indoors and trying to find serenity in that I may otherwise not make time for.