It doesn’t look appealing outside. It is wet and the wind is blowing a force. It’s so cold out there too. And then in a couple of hours the darkness will already be creeping in. The sun barely gets a look in these days. Where could there possibly be happiness in all of that?
This will be my first winter in 3 years. I am bracing myself.
Last year I was on my bicycle in Asia, staying as south as I was able. Until it seemed like it might be warm enough to cycle north to the Himalayas and into Bhutan. And two years ago I was pedalling in the southern hemisphere up in the Andes. I was doing my best to avoid the heat of the tropics by staying at high altitude. It was 3 years back that I was last in Scotland for winter.
I have been longing for a winter for a while. But now I am here I remember the challenge it can bring. There is little motivation to get outside. It is often easier to stay indoors. Though, in times past that meant being alone as I wouldn’t naturally cross another’s path, and I’d feel too low to reach out to others.
Then there are the festivities of the season – a confusing time. Indulgences of all kinds seem to take away from what is really just an occasion to be with loved ones. And we can be left with little else but debt and hangovers. The evenings begin getting lighter after all that festive oddness, but the cold nevertheless drags on.
What can help during the winter?
Winter can be difficult for many people. Winter forces us to come into ourselves. This can be worthy; as inward self-reflection can be useful after a long year. A time for pause, to put things in perspective, and make sense of all that happened. A natural and needed process some might say. But sometimes introspection can get scary. For me this will happen when there aren’t enough people around and I’m struggling to find meaningful activities that get me out and about. People and purpose help balance me.
Being with people is the most important thing this winter (ahem. . . it is always the most important thing). Roaming over the world these past years got lonely. After I’d been on the road a year, I was on the verge of giving up on Bhutan and heading home to see people for the festive season. I’m looking forward to surrounding myself with people – in doors, playing games, cooking. That doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe I’ll head outdoors to go dip in an ice cool stream in the mountains of Scotland. But I won’t go alone. I will reach out more! I will welcome those that reach in.
This winter I’ve also got some projects I feel excited by. A few weeks ago I started stripping down Gulliver, my bicycle, and am slowly rebuilding him from scratch. Not only does my trusty steed deserve it but it is also an opportunity to get out and learn more about bicycles.
Then there is, of course, the book – Our Journey for Happiness. That is coming along. I still have no publisher, but I’ve got a solid structure and I’ve written drafts for a prologue and 4 chapters. Whenever the day ahead is set aside for writing I wake up excited.
It’ll be up and down these next months – but then when isn’t it? Everywhere and every time has its unique challenges. People and purpose make them easier.