Using Winter – Using Darkness

I often dread the winter. I don’t know if it’s undiagnosed Seasonal Mood Disorder or just my Southern California upbringing disliking the cold. But I do. I don’t want less sunlight. I want more. I don’t want to wear sweaters and coats. I want warmth.

Recently, I’ve been making a more deliberate effort to find ways to use the winter. I’ve been trying to take advantage of less sunlight by writing and reading more. This winter, which for me has already begun, I’m also going to dramatically increase my exercise, some of which I can do indoors. I’m also going to increase my time outdoors. I’m sure time outdoors has an effect on my mood. I know that a hike in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park always lifts my spirits whether it’s November or August. I know I benefit from the intentional hike, however short or long.

I know some friends whose experience of winter is truly dreadful and I don’t mean at all to suggest that everyone can “will themselves” into feeling better. I know enough of my own intermittent depression to understand the power of that beast. Yet, for me, I can often improve my days by making the deliberate choice to get out, get into the light, or settle into the darkness and make a conspiracy of it.

As odd as this might sound, the NBA helps me enjoy the winter a whole lot too. As a boy, I followed the NBA like a religion. I was raised following the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. While I still follow both of those teams, I really follow the NBA entirely. Recovering the beauty of basketball that invigorated so much of my youth has helped me savor the cold days of December and January!

This winter, I am finalizing the poems of Raising King in preparation for its September 15, 2020 release, and I am beginning two new poetry projects. I am returning to an old practice of painting with water colors. At school, I am shaking loose some routines that have not served me well. I have benefited greatly from these simple questions: How can I use this winter? How can I use the darkness?

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Poet & Teacher. Author of four books of poetry: Raising King (2020) Ache (2017) Gospel of Dust (2013) Meeting Bone Man (2012)

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