Updated: Sep 25
In the middle of the longest night of the year, my anxiety search dogs kept jarring me awake, running amok while looking for something to chew on. Tiny and medium-sized annoyances, worries, and sadnesses gripped me at 1:05 a.m., 3:33 a.m., and at a higher speed between 4:15-5:15 a.m. for some reason.
“Chill out,” I told them. “You’re just agitated because it’s so dark and so cold.” Then I would check my phone to map for myself that the temperature indeed has lost its grip on sanity, plunging from 32 degrees at 11 p.m. to in the minuses by early morning.
I think of the solstice as a time of wonder, magic, and intention when we can see what we can’t normally glimpse in the dark of the dark, which can be beautiful in its own way. Yet the reality is that most solstice passages include me rapidly forgetting all my therapeutic tools and years of experience in walking my anxiety on a leash and getting the #$%@# back to sleep.
It didn’t help that some ice-driven polar bomb was rolling across the land at high speed although I generally find the sound of the howling wind comforting, even last night. The waves of wind came roaring in their old familiar song, reminding me of being a child in winter on a cold night, listening when I should have been sleeping (some of us were gifted for our age when it came to insomnia).
Mostly, I felt dread about what was coming and all in my life I have little to no control over, including my adult kids, work, health, organizational passions, and meandering yearnings. I know that in daylight, everything seems totally okay, and it likely is, but especially when the cold of the cold comes to roost, there’s something primal about feeling a little or a lot scared, out of control, and weary.
Then it’s daylight, and although the temperature dropped to -5 during the unfolding afternoon, I was and am so grateful to have this warm house, these layers of fleece and cotton, these people and animals living here even if they’re mostly lying around watching TV (my visiting kids) or the birds (Miyako the cat) or me (Moxie the dog). I don’t take all the gifts of this life, especially on dark and cold stretches, for granted. How fortunate I am to enjoy a bundled-up night and day well-fed and comfortable, even if a little too awake when I meant to sleep.
Big weather events and solstices, like so much of what seemingly big forces of danger we’re told to prepare for, are also so different than I imagine ahead of time. Yes, it was and is crazy-cold, but lo and behold, the sun! The actual sun after days of working remotely under cloud cover burned it way through the haze to show its face.
Now, as this next night gathers its wits around it, it gathers a minute or so less as the light returns, inch and breath by inch and breath. I am so happy to be alive now and always.