Pacing In My Mind with a Bag of Chips

Pacing My Mind's Cage

Snowed in. My mind is pacing in its cage. Inwardly, that is. Outwardly, I'm prowling around my cupboards, even though my appetite vanquished the chips' supply weeks ago. The paperwhites and sage blooming near my windowsills just aren't enough green for me.

Listening to pick-me-up songs by Gramatik, my ears are giving my head pep talks. But, housebound, my mind craves the outdoors. I could put the parka on and head out. But, I don't. My body is as active as the dormant boxwoods buried under snow drifts in my front courtyard. At odds with its restless mind, the body insists on conservation and hibernating. So much for my last blog (um, dissertation) on The Importance of Starting Even In One's Pajamas. Hey, PJ's! Have I got a potato-chip bloated babe for you!

Remedy for Winter Potato Chips

As a psychotherapist, I know the usefulness of anticipating the metaphorical potholes that routinely lay ahead of us, the ones that could blow out one's emotional tire. For me, it's always the gray of February.

To steer around my own wintery existential blowout, I enrolled in NYBG's Horticultural Therapy coursework. I made new friendships. But, the class's writing assignments slid me off-road into a snowbank of adult-ed acid reflux. I was a third-grader again, unsure how to craft a good sentence. Damn it, where is that last stash of chips!

Then, from Exhibit 1.4 of my NYBG textbook, a forgotten fact parachuted into my restless head:

Many people have difficulty with darker moods during the cold winter months…we might consider if there is something to be gained by the darker moods...

My craving for sea-salt and lime-flavored chips wasn't leaving. So, I read more:

After all, if we look at a deciduous tree in the middle of December, it would be easy to diagnose it with depression…it looks close to death…However, we know that a tree’s response to the season is to draw its life force to its roots…it conserves energy and prepares for renewal in the spring.
— J.S. Rice

This notion, that we've something to be gained by our darker moods, unlatches the gate to my mind's cage. No longer ill-judging my winter's head, I appreciate its restlessness. That is, I'm not suppose to be sunny like spring and summer all year round. In the cold winters, the trees look like their dead, but they're not. I think I'm only pacing back and forth with a bag of chips, but I'm not. 

After all, as the Pulitzer-Prize writer Gareth Cook says, there's plenty of research to confirm the dark side to insisting on happinessLike trees' roots, my stir-crazy mind is gathering up ideas and momentum. It's normal and necessary. In the metaphorical spring, more of who I aim to become will then be able to branch out. And, I might just take my bag of chips with me.