Monday, December 10, 2007


Nothing compares to the feeling of peace that comes after a cross-country ski outing. The full-body workout seems to flush all the nastiness out of every place it can accumulate. The smooth flow through space calms the mind, even if certain uphills can be daunting and downhills can inspire terror.

Find terrain that lets you enjoy yourself.

Even after the first couple of times at the beginning of the season, when last year's familiar skills seem reluctant to report for duty, the aftermath is peace. Peace and energy. If we were looking at brown ground and tepid temperatures, I would probably still be trying to fashion a mood out of tiny scraps of euphoria adrift on a vast sea of anhedonia. During the worst of the wait in late November and much of December most years, only these little life rings and bits of wreckage painted with the name of my former ship serve to keep me swimming until I can find the bottom with my feet. Hopefully that will happen with my head above water and I can crawl ashore to take stock of what washed up with me that I can use.

This early snow seems to have rescued me from the absolute worst of midlife bleakness piled onto seasonal funk. Stuck in a car, driving to a job at which I sell things no one can use seems like a complete waste of life. Without the snow I'm just marking time until next biking season, but even then I'm struggling to survive the darkness just so I can piss away the light. The bright season will flash past in a blur of under-appreciated labor, sling-shotting me into the next cycle of darkness. And so it goes.

Hard to believe a little sliding around on snow has pulled me out of the depths of such dark rumination, but it's true. Exercise is the best anti-depressant, but it's hard to convince yourself to take the cure when all you have are indoor machines in a world dominated by night. Then the ground turns white. Its light spreads through the woods and fields, making the short day dazzling and the night luminous. It invites you out to play. And from that play comes new strength.

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