I don’t know what winter is anymore. After almost 7 years in Los Angeles, my body has lost all sense of what temperature is. I went home to NJ a couple weeks ago for Thanksgiving and froze my ass off, but by the time I left I was fine. Then I got back to California and froze my ass off, but at 20° higher than what it was in NJ. It probably doesn’t help that I work from home and sometimes don’t leave the house for a few days, but I’m more concerned about what it might be doing for me creatively.
You see, in Los Angeles, it’s difficult to feel the passage of time. In more varied climes, people often suffer from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, a depressive state that manifests in the winter months, but in LA that kind of thing can be a bit more manic. We might have 3 days in a row where it never gets higher than 45, followed by a week in the 70s. It’s bizarre; it feels like being locked in a 6-month Fall, but without the crispness of Autumn back East with its leaves and cold rain. It doesn’t rain much here until January usually, if at all. Then after a few weeks we slip back into our forever spring, unpredictable summer, and eventually our long Fall again.
Boo hoo, right? We don’t have to shovel ourselves out of 12 inches of snow or worry about unexpected rain ruining our day on a regular basis. But the lack of true seasons makes writing a strange thing. The usual cyclical themes don’t naturally present themselves, making what would in other locations be only a case of “winter blues” turn into a recurring theme; without a season of expected minor depression, that sadness can bleed into the warmer months as well. Spring isn’t as powerful of an energizer when it comes on the heels of a season only slightly colder.
I can remember being in high school and college and thinking that Spring was the most wonderful thing in the world. It was always the most productive time of my year, when I finally was able to vocalize all of the emotions that had haunted me from December to March. I felt recharged, ready to face whatever mental and emotional struggles came my way, because I had experienced that period of winter shut down and had come through it. Instead of closing up shop for scheduled maintenance here, though, I wind up trying to push through whatever issues crop up, write them off as just a minor case of the blues.
What I’m saying is, as much as it sucks, as much as the colder months might bring you down or make life a frosty hell, maybe a stark winter is a good thing.
I’ve seen too few moons to make a blanket statement, but I wonder if having that coldness every year makes one a better writer or thinker or whatever.