step into the winter dark

sticker graffiti of a little girl in a flouncy skirt, holding a hammer up over one shoulder

she's going in to break it up

This morning I spent an hour writing in the notebook. It’s chilly here in the little apartment, but I got to wrap up in a bright red wrap that was knitted by my mother, so that helps.

What to say on a Wednesday morning? This is the slow time, the molasses time, the bundling time. Why does it, why do I feel, some need to go faster? Faster isn’t possible right now? All the gears are grinding to a halt. It’s not just Winter, the Winter Holidays, or Mercury Retrograde — it’s all of these plus deep inner-work that brings me into contact with my old stories, the ones I haven’t told, the ones I haven’t wanted even to look at, or let my throat and mouth shape.

So I set up a new writing corner in the apartment, move a rocking chair in, a small table (complete with requisite box of tissues), move a candle in — and this morning, I move my body in as well.

Here’s something I read in my recent revisiting of Women Who Run With The Wolves (which I’ll probably keep mentioning for awhile) – how alone has a connectedness to all one. Alone and all one. Sometimes (for me this is true — it might not resonate for you), the only time I feel all one is when I’m alone, when I can be unobserved, when I have no sense of having to perform any particular persona or personality. All my fragments and foibles, my snotty voices and messy faces can come out and just rest their elbows on the table with me while I eat dinner, while I read a book, while I vacuum. Off-center pieces of me can be present and accounted for, even though they don’t fit or talk right, they chew funny, they talk to themselves — even though all of that is true, they’re necessary parts of making me me, aren’t they?

Do you have stretches of time where you avoid the computer, the InterWebs? I’m having one of those times right now– you may have noticed, after almost a week of no blog posts. What does this time mean? A desire for a break from the blue light of the screen, sure. A desire to touch something besides silicone and plastic. A desire, yes, to actually be in the dark with one candle and no other noise. I often go through stretches of wanting to be away from the computer, and it’s not just about avoiding emails (that’s another issue altogether!), it’s about wanting more than these pixels, the ones and zeroes that make up this new form of communication that, sometimes, doesn’t feel even remotely human.

So I step away, into the winter dark, and let the nesting, longing, sorrow, old memory, new possibility, let all of it come upon me. I find space to be alone and bundle all the tossed-aside bits of me back up under my coat, inside my gloves — suddenly, there’s room for them. And then I get together with old and new friends and laugh until my sides ache and I remember that medicine, the necessity of it. I remember how to breathe by watching my breath take shape in the cold ocean-morning air. I fit myself into the iciness of this new blue, even if it’s not as cold as it would be this time of year if I were still living in northern New England. Still there’s the slumber — maybe not a bleak midwinter, but a cold, a going under, the sun in its hibernation, in its distance.

Plus, there’s the xmas cookies that need making. So far this year, there are about 20 different kinds on my list. Let’s see how many I can get to this year.

How do you mark the winter dark? Or, more specifically, how does your creative self respond to this time of year, to these long nights, to the chill and the quiet (if, indeed, it’s quiet where you are)? How do you or your character respond to this idea of alone == all one? Want to take 10 minutes with one or the other of these this morning? Follow your writing (like we do) wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thanks, yes, thanks, for your creative you. Thanks for all the parts of you that you hold out a hand to, hold open your heart to, even though they’re rude and not grown and they’re skateboarding down Market St or Broadway instead of sitting quiet at the table with you. Thanks, this morning, for your words.

It’s more a reflection of the boundless possibility that lies in all of us, all the time…

2 responses to “step into the winter dark

  1. I feel most whole (as in least fragmented, like you said) when I am alone, but it struck me the other day that I am measurably safer and less destructive when I allow myself to be with people.

    Katrina, thank you so much for this post — I want to say that this totally resonates with me. I struggle with the way I can sink into the old (and new) murk inside when I’m too much alone. It’s part of the ‘work’ for me right now to show up for friends, learning how to be intimate, learning how to let all those fragments and ‘inappropriate’ (who decides this?) parts of me show up when I’m out to coffee with someone, learning how to be more honest, less perform-y. It’s important, what you’re talking about, that tendency to get lost and sunk when we’re too much alone, and having so much difficulty being with people.

    I hear you about wanting to fast forward five years and see/be in another place. Sometimes, when that longing rises up for me, I can go back into old journals and see where I was five years or even five months ago — this shows me how I’ve shifted, grown, changed, moved, and settles (even just a little) that place inside that feels like nothing is happening.

    Winter does provide powerful space for some of this work, I’m with you on that. I like this idea of winter being the most honest season — I have to think about that more.

    Thanks so much for being here, for writing and sharing, Katrina!

  2. I have a complicated relationship to aloneness right now. I used to consider aloneness the safest way to be, but now I am realizing that without boundaries, or a plan, or an end in sight, my aloneness is where my insides begin to cannibalize me. I feel most whole (as in least fragmented, like you said) when I am alone, but it struck me the other day that I am measurably safer and less destructive when I allow myself to be with people. I haven’t found a balance I am satisfied with, yet. I feel frustrated by the sinkhole that is waiting for me just beyond the boundary of where alone meets the world outside. I feel frustrated that there is no real place where I can find substantive peace right now. I ache to fast forward five years to see how the triggers and my relationship to space will change. I am trying to be patient with all my might, but I am so tired, too, right now.

    But I do love winter. I hate December, but I love winter. I am so excited for Christmas to be done so we can get into the real thick of it. Winter seems like the most honest season to me. Or maybe it just most honestly reflects how I feel inside much of the time. Either way, the short days and bitter wind are comforting to me in a way that none of the other seasons are.

    I hope you keep digging into your aloneness, and finding it the right place for you to be right now.

    Thanks, as always, for your words.