Surviving the long dark

The deep mid-winter pushes my hibernation circuits.

I shouldn’t be surprised as my ancestors, and their Rb 1 gene, have been here for thousands of years, so we adapted to the lack of sunlight.

Today the daylight is incrementally longer than yesterday.

At first, it is too little to notice but the fact that I know that has a placebo effect on me.

A note to readers in the southern hemispheres:

Apologies as I know it’s the other way around for you folk.

In two days’ time, the annual Jesus/Mithras thing will go ahead.

Number One Daughter just made it home an hour ago, the poor baba is coughing and spluttering as her dad has been for weeks.

At least she’s here to be minded.

Baby Doctor is next door composing revision notes for the next test of her medical knowledge at Trinners.

The Big Fella is downstairs giving his mum a hand, and I’m in the study writing this for you dear reader.

I hope that you’re reading this well and in good form.

In this part of the world, back in the Palaeolithic day, many of us didn’t survive the winter.

It culled the weak and the infirm with more deadly purpose than any carnivorous predator lurking in the woods.

So the depth of the darkness was a good time to dig into the food reserves of the tribe and gather around an especially big roaring fire.

The Yule log and all that.

Now I know that that there is a little more daylight each day I start to…well… brighten up.

My energy levels start to increase.

By past experience, I know that my seasonal slump starts around the end of October and this year was no different.

An mhí Dheireadh Fómhair is a bad time for me as I’m anticipating the long dark.

The following month is usually my worst of the entire calendar.

I know that there isn’t any real escape from the increasing darkness here on my island.

In November this year the Web Summit took me to Lisboa.

Walking in the sunshine in November put it into my head that winter sun has much to commend it.

Donegal to the Portuguese capital is, on the proverbial crow’s flight path, 1125 miles closer to the equator.

That is was enough to make a difference.

As I walked back to my apartment in Bairro Alto it was still daylight when Donegal was already in darkness.

I felt better, stronger, more hopeful.

The sun was doing its thing on me.

With a medicalised narrative increasingly dominating existential issues, I’m told that I tick almost all the boxes for “Seasonal Affective Disorder”.

Perhaps it is just nature’s way of telling me that it is time to hunker down.

Over the next few days, I hope that you are all where you are meant to be and that you are surrounded by people that you care about.

If you have been raised within the Christmas tradition (many of the inhabitants of this planet have not) then is a difficult time of year to be apart from loved ones.

I know what it is to miss someone at this time of year and it is awful.

Coupled with the midwinter, it can induce bone crushing sadness.

Of course, there are those amongst us who don’t, for whatever reason, have any loved ones.

Some people don’t have a place to call home or anyone to worry about them.

I hope dear reader that you are not among their number.

If you are, then know the days are starting to be that bit longer, the sun slightly stronger in the sky and perhaps as the earth turns so too will your situation change if you so wish it.

This warm house in Ireland is full of food, and I have gifts to wrap for my brood.

We’re lucky, and I hope you too have that good fortune, dear reader.

Whatever your beliefs enjoy the turning of the year.

We all need the light.

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