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1.11.22: Winter is a gorgeous drag.


We're (just) one-third of the way through January, 2022. This is where the shit gets thick. Not thick like, there's so much to do that I can't find a blank spot on the calendar and I need more sleep. "Thick" like, I'm working just to keep my mental & emotional shit together on a daily basis, esp after the coffee has worn off (around 2pm). Like, after 3pm, I want to be home in my pajamas, in one of my warm spots, reading a book or messing with one of my at-home creative projects. Like, I'm probably not going to get out of the house this evening for any reason - and this is contributing to my feelings of isolation, loneliness, and rat-on-a-wheel-ness.


"Thick" like, I'm overthinking everything because I live in my head this time of year. I actually have fantasies (maybe just invasive thoughts) of going south across Boyd to the university front lawn and rolling in the grass - just connecting with my body and the ground - very literally grounding. I need OUT of my head and INTO my body - lots of very literal, physical connection - and also plenty of plain ol social connection with people, regular "we're all in the same room for the same reasons" proximity to people, and the forced socialization that comes with it. I don't necessarily want that - I won't go seeking it out except in the most dire of straits - but I know that I need it on a very basic-needs-of-the-organism level.


So going to a bar usually makes this easy, right? Yeah. Except I put the bottle down for good as of 12.31.21. (I have strong thoughts of getting this date tattooed on the knucks of one hand or another - hard to go back on what's inked on the hand tat, right?) I had been flirting with quitting hard - hell, it was straight adultery - since 1.1.18 (at which point I went 6 months sober before the overwhelming craving and subsequent relenting to a Hamm's on the patio at Sauced in the Paseo one gorgeous early June afternoon - and one turned into five and a full-on drunk). A few weeks ago I realized that if I'd stayed sober at that point, I'd now have four years of sobriety under my belt - a sobering summation, indeed. So even tho it's human to gather in a bar, being in a bar makes me want to drink, unless I have something else to fully engage my faculties.


I need to be in my body, so I need to be working out. Running. Throwing this corpus around regularly. But I've been sick this past week, so I had to take it easy on anything that was gonna make me breathe hard. Went to the gym a couple of times just to get on the treadmill and walk, and that was a really good call. Thinking about doing it this morning, actually (it's 7a now), but I'll be on my feet at work all day today, so I'll just leave for work early and give myself plenty of time to set up the restaurant instead.


Honestly, this time of year especially, I'd rather be up & working at home by 4am and in bed by 7 or 8p. I'd rather hit the coffee shop/breakfast place and get my social needs met (on the days I don't work), and spend the rest of the day at home working again, and read myself to sleep late evening. I'd rather not get out. And I honestly don't know if this is good for me or not.


In the "thick" of the busy summer and fall, and again as the EOY holiday season approaches and winds up, I find myself idolizing winter as this time of dormancy, of rest and recouping, of metaphorical seed-planting, projecting, and organizing & orienting my human efforts and faculties toward the rest of the year, which, to use another farming analogy, I see as the "growing season" - where those aforementioned seeds spring up, green, flower, and fruit. Ideally, I'd spend the cold months (and honestly, they are short! - but they seem to stretch on forever) meditating, quietly and peacefully working on projects, in the gym working out - building, improving, fortifying. Readying. Beautiful thoughts, all, right? Sure. In reality, I spend the available cold days living it somewhat more like a rat in a cage - ambling (or scurrying) from cage wall to cage wall, looking for a way out. Scrambling from one thought/idea to another; looking for a fix. Looking for peace. Looking for something. Looking for more order to calm me? More like looking for some chaos to help burn off an adequate amount of this energy buildup. I ache with destructive tendency during the winter - for quick, dirty fixes that release large amounts of energy in one stroke; short explosions that feel phenomenal in the energetic blowoff....


...for about five minutes. Then, recalling from past experience, they leave me standing beside the charred & smoking remains of the house-frame, wondering where the fuck I'm going to live now. (Okay, I did just make myself grin.)


I am not hardy; this is the whole issue here. Because I tend to hunker down in the winter for comfort's (warmth's) sake, my circle/s get smaller, and I go a little crazy. (I know it's not only me in this situation, but I'm responsible for me & my own health/wellbeing.)


"Balance" is on my list of overused words, but the concept stands as solidly as that of gravity. The dark and the light; the creative and the destructive; the physical and the spiritual - they're each inextricable from the other, and they will pull & push with & against each other until they flow again in some measure of equilibrium for a time. Chaos & order: you cannot have one without the other.


I have tempered my fevers to one degree or another for 40 winters now; I can do it again. I will be "fine". (Vomit.)


But there's another question rustling unquiet inside my mind: that of one's hyper-prioritization of the concept of personal "safety", and how that can land one in a real rut. To return to the rat-in-a-cage visual: there's a true story of a tiger in a zoo cage whose captors eventually decide to give her a much larger space to roam (a sanctuary maybe a couple of acres in size instead of a tiny cage). But even so, instead of roaming all of the territory now available to her as would a natural, vital feral cat, she still spends all her time pacing the same short distance that was once the span of her cage. In effect, she wound up internalizing her cage. Her own mind became her captor.


I see myself doing this with my work and routine/s. I see myself doing this, to a degree, with my preferences and tendencies toward & against certain people, stimuli, environments, beliefs - you name it. It comes readily to mind this time of year because I cannot escape seeing the evidence in my now-smaller patterns of avoidance. I stay away from what I imagine might be uncomfortable. I only approach where I can envision clearly how I would handle an element - person, setting, circumstance, event, thing, you name it. This is self-preservation. If I somehow find myself in contact with something I that is stimulating me in a way I don't prefer, or moving me to respond in a way in which I don't feel in control, I shut down. I turn off. I disengage. This is also self-preservation. To LIVE means to respond to life, and all of its messengers and manifestations big & small, from an engaged place. Disengagement with life = death. As I find myself disengaging in the cold season from so much outside activity (in which I normally engage in during the warm & inviting seasons), I see evidence of death in all my little self-protective measures. I feel little stings of death when I cut off little antennae to the world around me....




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