“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” - Albert Camus
With sweat dripping from my newly chopped bangs, I stretched towards the steam-covered windows and let these words sink in. Boston was prepping for its third blizzard in three weeks, and our yoga instructor urged the class to breathe in and find our invincible summer. Summer calls to mind longer, warmer, more adventurous days. And in the middle of winter, the shorter, colder days can feel bleak and unending. The excitement of new hats and scarves has worn off, and the magic of the first snow is buried under, well, more snow. But why are we so quick to combat winter with escapism?
There is something admirable about the human quality to push back, especially in times of great oppression. But unlike Albert Camus, I try to embrace winter and its unique virtue.
Why do we want to escape winter so badly?
We live in a time that praises the extrovert, the leader, and the socialite. More often than not, the quiet individual is overlooked and devalued. Winter is a time of introversion, stillness, and dwelling -- an extrovert’s worst nightmare. Wintry weather can make travel harder, so the shorter days beg us to stay at home. We call winter bleak and gray. We blame the freezing temperatures for our discomfort and boredom. I’m not talking about seasonal affective disorder or a lack of vitamin D exposure; I’m talking about the ease with which we discard the beauty and simplicity of winter in favor of the loud and wild summer.
Our screens are flooded with ideas on how to “get through” the winter. We even have a holiday to speculate how many more weeks we’ll have to deal with it! Instead of wishing those weeks away, what if we stayed present within them, cold and all? People aren’t made to merely survive, to muddle through. We are designed to thrive.
What if we didn’t push back?
Unable to rely on the weather for comfort, we create our own warmth in the flickers of fireplaces and the flannel woven into our shirts. We invite more personal, intimate connections by welcoming company into our homes and taking shelter from the cold together. We hang twinkle lights in the sun’s absence. We melt chocolate, add marshmallows, and drink from a steaming mug. We rest. Instead of going out, we open up our homes. We dwell. Crockpots simmer all day. We sled, ski, and skate. There is no shortage of magic in the winter if we embrace what makes it a unique season.
If nothing else, winter gives us the ability to retreat-- to spend time with our families, our partners, or ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the warmer seasons. Whether you’re a seasoned introvert, or an extrovert who is dying to be out in the world, time to ourselves is valuable. It’s a time to dig into that pile of papers that’s been building up on the table, clean out your closet, or be indulgent and curl up with a good book Netflix without guilt. You can try to escape it, or you can fall in love with the frost and thrive in the creation of your own warmth and comfort.
Seasons come and go.
This isn’t Game of Thrones; winter will come and it will go in a matter of months. And so will spring, summer, and fall. That’s the funny thing about seasons, they’re seasonal. There’s no sense wishing away a time that we know will fade, and be back the exact same time next year. So before winter does fade, which it surely will, I hope you have the chance to walk in a winter wonderland. To hear the crunch of snow, and see smoke spiralling from chimneys. To feel the color surge back into your cheeks as you kick snow off your boots on the welcome mat and peel off layers of sweaters. Wrapping your hands around a steaming mug, I hope you feel the magic of winter and each of its unique joys before spring swaps snow for leaves.
Madeline walked out on her career in culinary TV production to pursue the self-employed dream. She currently works in Boston, MA as a portrait photographer, and is the force behind the local creative ventures Joy Street and Co and Cold Coffee Studios. When she's not organizing her Google Calendar, she likes to sleep.