As the clamour of Christmas finally subsides and we approach the last week in January, we mechanically enter the Winter Wilderness, that uninhabited wasteland of nothingness. The surreal nature of the void is for me compounded by the effects of over-the-counter cough syrup which I have no doubt contains enough "medicine" to seriously distort one's mental equilibrium, contributing in no small part to midnight dreams of the most bizarre nature.
Economically, this inhospitable region of the calendar is characterized by commercial lethargy. Likely even the inveterate discount shoppers will by now have lost interest, nurtured in their sluggishness by depletion of resources and general spending torpidity. It's a time for hibernation on every level.
For those of us who are unable to remain completely dormant in our winter quarters, this otherwise barren geography provides an opportunity for useful pause and refreshment, if for no other reason than to restore some spring (pardon the pun) to our posture. I know of no one in Western culture who does not look upon January 1st as the commencement of a new era. I believe even Revenue Canada, as nettlesome and unimaginative as it can be, has mandated the calendar year as the only possible fiscal year-end, thus effectively making our secular, religious and economic lives perfectly congruent.
Getting it "together", as much as it hearkens back to the hippie era of the seventies, is nonetheless as compelling today as it was then. Reassembling one's life after the distortions and flurry of activities at year-end is a natural product of this temporary quiescence. I venture to say that the process is virtually accidental, requiring little more than the passage of time to experience its restorative benefits.
Even if we were to placate ourselves with the state of our present circumstances, there is another element of living which is not to be ignored, and that is the matter of hope for the future, something which I have always found to be integral to the rejuvenation process. Human beings are after all not only retrospective and introspective, but also prospective, whether about matters as mundane as prospective earnings or relating to more elevated concerns of personal growth, or what are merely captured in that pedestrian bundle of "plans for the future". The more hardened among us may consider that accomplishing anything revolutionary in one's life is highly unlikely and that what is more inevitable is that we shall once again tread the same weary path which we've carved for ourselves for years past; however, this does not dispel the equally common trend to imagine what we may do in the future. Hope, while not a certainty, is finding fresh cause for optimism, which in itself goes a long way to dispel despair and instill a sense of revival. If the truth be admitted, the reality is that so much of our life is hardly glamorous, and, as in most things, it is the little things that count. As such, our sights needn't be set particularly high. Just getting through a day is an accomplishment; and, considering the unpredictability of the future, there is little more that matters.