The holidays, man. Why do they make us so crazy? I think I've gotten a grip on them for myself (everybody does, right?) , but the mania around me always unsettles me - and the crass commercialism just pisses me off. I think it's all related to the expectation that everyone should be happy around this time, (and if you're not happy, buying stuff will make you happy!) and the reality that peoples' lives don't follow a set calendar schedule of jollity.
It makes me tired. Maybe it's also the weather that does it - the cold, the early dark, the clouds, the rain. This is the time of navel-gazing, of going inside and facing the dark, both literal and metaphorical. I find myself not wanting to get out of bed on the weekends, watching too much TV at night, wanting to drink more. It's also the time of being cozy and warm, if we're lucky, watching the hearth fires and twinkling lights the way humans have for millions of years. The Festival of Lights (our ancestors' way of fighting off wintertime depression) is right around the corner, yet with all the lights, so many of us are sad, depressed, lonely, or irritated, frazzled, and stressed. I suppose that's not exactly an original thought.
I'm feeling the depression in my bones again, and I'm trying to just let it be, to sink into it a little bit and not fight it. It's normal, at least for me. It's not a disease. it's a physical reaction to external events, both natural and human-made. It's probably the psychological equivalent to hibernation. It's time for me to curl up inside myself, like a bear or a squirrel.
The problem is that in this society, there is no time to stop, and just be. I feel unfriendly and anti-social when I get this way. People jar me, like rubbing sandpaper across sensitive skin, even when I like them and they're being perfectly civil, but I feel like I should be out amidst the crowds, smiling cheerfully, happy in the groups that make up my life - friends, family, coworkers. I feel like I'm letting them down, running out of time to be a social success - it feels wrong even though I know it isn't.
But, I am thankful for many things, including being able to spend several days over T-Day weekend with my family in the redwoods in Guerneville (that picture above is the view from the back deck of the rented vacation home). I'm thankful for: having a family that doesn't judge me, or at least not obviously so; spending a few days bonding with my beautiful and intelligent 18-month old niece; getting to watch the mist dissipate in the morning over the Russian River and sitting in the hot tub late at night looking at the stars; having the capacity to be sensitive and self-reflective, even when it hurts; sitting and drinking ginger tea, wrapped in a red robe, while it rains outside; books; the Cowboy Junkies on my stereo; a day to give myself permission to fall apart.