Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day —and longest night — of the year, when the sun pauses on its southward trajectory, then starts its cimb north, and the cycle begins once again.
Some of us wait to begin rejuvenating our lives until New Year’s Eve when the glittering ball drops in Times Square. But why not begin a new adventure right now, today, as we usher in the New Solar Year?
The noun “adventure” has its roots in the Latin “adventurus”, to reach or arrive at. But over centuries its meaning has expanded to include not just an ending, but also a new beginning: a great jumping off place, out of darkness, when we once again commit ourselves to risk, chance and danger, sometimes at our peril.
Celebrating the Winter Solstice and surviving the peculiar hiatus between Christmas and New Year’s can be a time of powerful, mixed emotions: anticipation of the unkown, tempered by a commensurate sense of loss. The words of Iranian author Azar Nafisi describe this feeling of ‘Solstice melancholy’ well:
As a writer you get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be that way again.
On December 22, the sun begins its ascent. Gathering strength from the ancient builders of Stonehenge who glorified the sun’s annual return, we take a deep breath and make brave new resolutions while harboring a tinge of sadness, recognizing that we’ll never be quite the same…
…wondering which bits and pieces of us we will retain, and how we will recreate ourselves in a new place and time.
Not to worry, Nature knows. She’s done it again and again and again. Effortlessly.
And so we can, and will. Celebrating ourselves, giving thanks for being here, being us, being alive.
“Winter solstice”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia