Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I have never been a big fan of winter. Perhaps in part this is because I have yet to get into winter sports like skiing or hockey or ice fishing. But for me, winter has been defined by what it lacks: warmth, leaves, the ability to do things outside like golf. And so, in some important sense, winter has always felt to me like a time of deprivation.

But my thinking on this has been challenged lately by two friends of mine. One was a conversation in which my friend revealed that winter is their favorite time of year, one that is not so "hot and buggy" as the summer, one that allows us to see the structure and texture of trees, suddenly revealed without the covering of leaves to obscure our vision.

Another friend wrote a lovely poem about winter on her blog here. And again was the theme of winter as revealing, opening up a reality we had blinded ourselves to seeing.

My mind, of course, immediately responded that the reality we're talking about here is rather cold and unpleasant. And I thought of some of the worst winter moments from my time in North Dakota, where the realities of winter confront you eight months out of the year it seems.

And, interestingly, I then thought about Buddhism and therapy. Because it seems to me that both have to do, in part, with our relationship to unpleasant experiences. Both mindfulness and therapy call upon us to open ourselves to experiences that are unpleasant, to relate to such experiences with more curiosity and acceptance and kindness, to mine such experiences for the wisdom they contain. And, perhaps, to see the beauty in them.

It seems to me that much of our fear in life is diminished when we are no longer uncomfortable with simply accepting the experiences of fear, anger, terror, or loneliness. Indeed, we have much to learn from them, much that can teach us about ourselves and open us up to the experiences of others.

Peace to you all in this time of winter.

1 comment:

Brazen Hussy: Words on the Wind said...

You flatter me twofold: by being one of my "followers" (it makes me feel SO Charles Manson!) and by making me feel like less of a freak for reading the poem and 'getting' it.

Groundhog supposedly was shadow-free today. Maybe spring is on it's way...?