We’ve made that transition from what Andy Williams called the most wonderful time of the year to what I consider the least inspiring time of the year. For many, the most difficult time of the year — ‘tis the reason for the seasonal disorders.
Or maybe just the most trying time of the year.
Here in the Midwest, the coldest and snowiest and ice-rainiest weeks of the year are still ahead of us. To borrow George Harrison’s perfect description, the long, cold, lonely winter is just getting warmed up.
And then there’s the night.
For the past month or so, the dark night has been a backdrop to so many twinkling, gleaming lights. Lights hanging from porches, from gutters, from trees. Lights sending a hopeful glow to everything around them, pushing back the still-too-early darkness each evening. Now, with the holidays over, we’ve unplugged the lights and stored them in our dark attics and basements, giving the darkness outside free rein.
Oh, and have I mentioned Valentine’s Day?
In the grocery store, all the festive and unsold Christmas stuff has been placed on clearance tables. Already, it’s being replaced on the shelves with pink-this and pink-that. Valentine’s Day is on its way. Have I mentioned that I generally despise VD? The commercialization of love, doing to relationships what we do to Christmas. Just gag me with some heart-shaped Peeps. And we’re in for about six weeks of it.
And finally, there’s the resolutions. After days of all the smiling TV people and bloggers suggesting we should be making New Year’s resolutions, a few days have passed and so has some of the resolve. It’s another reminder that change has to come from a desire deep within. It’s not something we can do out of a feeling of obligation. It’s not tied to any one day or season.
Such stuff was rattling through my brain while I jogged last night. As I made my way along the dark streets, I noticed an abandoned rubber band in the middle of the sidewalk. It was the second day in a row that I’d found a rubber band on a sidewalk while jogging. I’m a believer that when you find something directly in your path — a rubber band, a Pepsi can — it just might contain a message in the fine, divine print.
For me, rubber bands are reminders. Since October, I’ve worn one on my left wrist as a reminder to try to make the most of each day. Interviewing Lauren Hill — the freshman basketball player dying of brain cancer — inspired me to wear a reminder.
And maybe that’s a good thought to take forward into the deepest and darkest part of winter, and beyond. What should we try to remember?
Remember that you are loved, just as you are. Really.
Remember to have an adventure every once in a while, even if it’s only in your backyard.
Remember that nobody has all the answers, and that’s OK.
Remember to hold tightly to the people who really love you. Not the ones who are there for you when it’s fun or convenient. No, the ones who give you hugs when you need hugs, space when you need space, the truth when you are caught up in your own self-serving bullshit, and love when you need it, which is all the time. The ones who will be there for you even when you go off the deep end, as we all do. Those people will save your life many times over.
Remember to look for the divine in your everyday life. It’s there, right in front of your eyes. You just have to recognize it.
Remember that you make bad choices and mistakes, but you yourself are never a bad choice or a mistake.
Remember that you are perfect, even when you’re a total mess.
Remember that healing takes time. Pain eventually eases. Wounds become strong scars that remind you how far you’ve come.
Remember to eat your favorite food. And to remember those who have no food.
Remember it’s OK to cry. Especially with someone who loves you.
Remember to laugh. A lot. And spend time with the people who make you laugh a lot.
Remember to stand up for who you are and what’s important to you, even when others want you to be someone else or to stand for something else.
Remember to celebrate and appreciate and be grateful for each day, even the ones that will suck in many ways.
Remember that snow melts, cold goes away. To continue that quote from George Harrison, here comes the sun, and it’s all right.
Remember that it’s going to be all right. Really.
Remember to follow your heart. Not the fear and insecurities that actually get in the way; rather, the noble and good parts of your heart. Those parts will take you where you need to go.
Remember to love always. And that you are loved always. Just as you are.