Cabin Fever

“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

-Percy Shelley

As winter lingers into late February, it can feel like the season will never end. By March, I tend to get listless and irritable, impatiently cursing the harsh weather and dreary sky. I get cabin fever, and I can’t wait for spring to arrive, and I wish it would always be spring.

But mother nature is much wiser than me. She knows that there is a purpose to the seasons and winter is a necessary fact of life. The earth has its cycles, just as humans cycle through physical and emotional life stages that resemble seasons. But still, winter is the period in our life that many of us dread.

Winter can blow in harsh and cold like grief. A relationship ends or a loved one dies or an illness sets in and the darkness descends upon us until it decides it’s time to move on.

Winter can also feel like a blessing. A necessary respite from the frenzy of work, obligations, and social life. It can feel like a warm bed in a quiet room that you bury yourself in while staring up at the ceiling as your mind contemplates the things you learned during the previous season.

This past year, winter arrived at my city door beckoning me to follow it back to nature. I became consumed by this desire to hide out in a secluded cabin in the woods where my phone had no reception and no one could reach me. I did just that, and it transformed me.

Now I know that when I get the irrepressible urge to hole up in a remote cabin, winter has arrived. There are always signs, and it is best not to ignore them. If you try to resist it, winter may hit you hard, like a snow storm that shuts you in without power and provisions because you didn’t listen to the news.

The best way to ride out the season is to embrace it. You must surrender to the fact of its existence and honor it by aligning with its intention. This means tuning in to what this period in your life is demanding from you, whether it be to sit quietly and meditate, or to flow through the stages of grief.

As an artist, I tend to place an unrealistic expectation on myself to be constantly creative. But winter has never been a productive time for me, and when I try to force it, my work falls flat. It’s like trying to plant flower buds in frozen soil.

Over time, I’ve learned that winter is one of the most important stages of creativity. It is the last trimester of pregnancy when the mother must rest and wait. It is the time to let your ideas gestate so you can bring them to the world fully realized once they are ready to be born.

Winter requires patience, mindfulness, and self-care. We must let those around us know that this is our time to withdraw, so they can give us the space to go within. The rhythm of your life might not sync up with theirs, so it’s important to accept where you’re at and not compare yourself to others.

So next time winter descends upon your life, try to find a cabin in the woods, or at least a cabin in the woods in your mind, where you can escape to until the snow melts and the sun beckons you to get back out there and blossom.

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