We’re deepening into the dark part of the year now, clocks have gone back and night is falling earlier. Where I live, we’re now back under fairly severe restrictions in terms of socialising, and a lot of people feel lonely and exhausted already; this year has taken its toll in so many ways and it just feels harder to keep generating new enthusiasm when what’s ahead looks very much like the same old same old with not a lot to look forward to.
I’m lucky to be living with my partner, with various projects on the go and lots of things to occupy my time, but my heart has been hurting with missing people I love – our son, my extended family, and friends in other cities – and all the fresh energy and perspective and ideas that they bring, not to mention the fun and the hugs.
But today I started thinking about this time of year in older cultures and the way that this was always a time to go deeper. To nurture the inner flame. To start slowing down the way that nature slows down, taking more time over all our small daily routines, paying attention to the process rather than fixating about the results. It’s also traditionally been the season when we use the darker colder nights to start flexing our mental muscles in new projects, enrolling in evening classes or taking up a new hobby.
For me this will involve going back to the drawing board – literally – as I challenge myself to do more line sketching in my notebook when I’m out and about, and perhaps even find a life drawing class. I want to learn to draw with charcoal and materials I wouldn’t usually try because I tell myself they’re too messy and I don’t think I can, and I haven’t got time…but what’s this? My life is still pretty busy despite the restrictions but actually I have got plenty of time.
And it is time to go deeper. Get better at things I already do passably well, practice and refine the things that I avoid or that scare me. (For instance, making a little film about me and my work and learning to use technology more comfortably)
Going deeper like this is a bit like sitting in meditation where you are faced with yourself, waiting for the chatter of your mind to fall away until what’s left is your own inner flame. It’s not at all easy! And this isn’t an easy time, but that is when in older cultures the magical and the unexpected become possible. Changing our rhythm and our expectations. Patiently kindling our fires in the darkness.