The Progression of Short Days
By 3:30 p.m. the light is fading fast. For days spent alone in the house occupying myself with chores and maintenance, I suppose that is all right but I miss the light. Sunrises have been spectacular all week with broad teal strokes balancing among the deep orange reds prior to the sun’s rise over the horizon. The earliest light of course has the deepest coloring; the sky and clouds still the darkest black without the illumination soon to come. We march toward the Solstice and it seems it is possible to witness the diminishment of daylight daily.
Next week that changes and we have the psychological uplift of knowing we are adding minutes of daylight every day that passes from now until the Summer Solstice in June, in which the daily decrease of light is barely noticeable given the number of hours (not minutes) that each day provides. That changes of course but it takes until October to have the shortened hours of daylight really starting to make a difference.
It strikes me that in this year of 2021 and in 2020 and perhaps for some years ahead there is a corresponding diminishment of light in the form of awareness and human behavior. “These are Dark Times” is heard or read repeatedly and I do not dissent from that position. For those of you dedicated to the Happiness Doctrine my apologies, but for me the trite saying “If you are not depressed you are not paying attention.” rings with truth. Surely there are moments of joy but the “big picture” has many dire aspects, “opportunities for growth” if you are bound and determined to stick to the positive despite all evidence to the contrary.
The best books, especially the best books for children and teens, often have a Dark Vs.Light thematic running through them. My favorite, The Dark is Rising Series by the author Susan Cooper lays this out brilliantly for younger and older readers alike but we were all swept into this stream by Peter Jackson’s film version of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Perhaps, if I had had the stomach for the violence, I would have also found this theme in The Game of Thrones. What these sagas have in common is that the Dark and the Light always—eventually—balance out. Star Wars worked on this same theme. This is our Dark Time but there will be another time ahead when Light returns. The catch is how long these periods last. This particular Dark Time does not bode well for those of us who are aging. There’s a good chance that the clock will run out before the tide turns. Is this a cause for despair? Perhaps not. It all depends if there is or what something there is after this. We won’t know until we get there.
The best use of these short, dark days is traditionally a time for introspection, calm, and rest. In that case stay away from media during this time and ignore (???) the past two years of isolation and confinement.
In any case I suggest candles (beeswax preferred, careful of noxious substances and cheapo chemicals used for scent) and do find some time during the night hours to view the stars and the planets. Feeling small and insignificant is underrated. Contemplation on the very very Big Picture is a useful way to spend time as the cycle turns and light begins to return.