So I know that technically, it’s late fall - but when it starts getting consistently cold in Los Angeles, I think it’s time to accept that what we’re really dealing with, is winter. Winter has obvious physical signs. The days are shorter, the clouds and rain more frequent, and the air brisker and more biting. But with all of this, there is a consequent feeling that seems to drive the season.
The roots of the feeling are biological. Darkness, or rather, a lack of sunlight, increases the production of melatonin. Melatonin makes us sleepier and more sluggish. It activates at night as well, when human’s are naturally programmed to sleep (though apparently I missed out on this programming -__- ). But it increases dramatically in winter. With the absence of the sun to send throes of vitamin D and inhibit the production of melatonin, we are left with a state that is, at least hormonally, akin to a quasi sleepy or slower state. This again, goes back evolutionarily, as humans, prior to homes, consistent shelter, food and modern convenience, were once left to fend for themselves in the middle of the winter. Making them less inspired to move around biologically predisposed them to be less active, and thus, need less of the then-scarce fuel that’s associated with productivity (food, vitamins, water etc).
But now, as fortunate, acclimated modern beings accustomed to comfort of homes, we see the winter as a different animal. For me, it’s a season with which I have a love-hate relationship. Winter inspires a feeling of longing. A longing for warm fires, descriptive literature, hot chocolate or coffee, and time spent with family. A need to have someone to keep me warm - someone who I can look to and depend on to share a smile that’s almost as warm as the fire. Winter forces us to look around at the people and things that we have and think, “What and who do I want to spend my time with?”. While we putter around indoors, we need people and activities to make us feel more comfortable and willing to remain inside.
There are few things like rising on a cold winter morning - generally, we wake to find the pitter-patter of the rain on our windows and roofs, or a crisp, lucid morning that wakes us more intensely than our alarm clocks. There is so much clarity in the winter. The allure of outdoor distraction has been revoked from our mind, and thus, we are left with nothing but our thoughts and our friends. It is this cycle that helps us narrow down what we want to do and who we want to do it with.
I like the winter because it makes me want more human interaction. It brings me out from the stressful vortex of self-focus. As I approach winter break, I know that I am slowly relinquishing my responsibilities; I am allowed to be more interested in my relationships than my schoolwork. But the winter leaves me wistful - wistful with the need the affection of another. And that person does not always exist.
As the winter sets in, I hope that I can embrace its cycle with an appropriate love for my shift in behavior. As with every year, I’ll have to.