How To Be Here: “Winterize” Your Life During Uncertainty

I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to recently have said the same thing: “I’m SO done with Covid!” We’ve hit a wall with the cumulative fatigue of the ongoing vigilance and adaptation, yet the marathon’s nowhere near over.

A couple weekends ago I was “winterizing”—preparing the outside of our house and garden for winter. I was enjoying the beautiful fall day as I did so, and I had this thought: What am I doing to “winterize” myself for the winter ahead?

The seasons of the year have a cadence to them – Spring, Summer, Fall Winter.  Over and over and over again.  And each movement of this cadence plays a particular role that the next one hinges upon.  I believe the same is true for the life-seasons humans move through.     Parker Palmer speaks beautifully to these seasons in Let Your Life Speak. Despite nature appearing “dead” in winter, there is in fact much needed dormancy and deep rest happening to renew and prepare for the next season, spring. At Liminal Space, we think of transition in terms of seasons: Ending, Neutral zone, and New beginning. The Neutral Zone is the wintertime of transition: “a seemingly unproductive time-out when we feel disconnected from people and things in the past and emotionally unconnected with the present.” (Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Biggest Changes, William Bridges) Doesn’t that sound remarkably like life several months into the pandemic? Deborah Wang explains we’re deep in the winter season of disillusionment. We realize by now, there’s no returning to the old “normal” but we can’t see the New Beginning either.

All this sounds dark and dreary indeed. And many days it is.  A quick glance at the rising Covid numbers reminds us each day of the season we are in.  But as Parker Palmer reminds us, there is a profound gift in winter: the gift of utter clarity. Many people have remarked on the life-changing discoveries they have gleaned during the pandemic so far. Have the unwelcome constraints and barrenness of this Covid-season revealed something in your life that needs to change or become a higher priority?  He writes, “In winter, one can walk through into the woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly, and together, and see the ground they are rooted in.” We can see the forest for the trees! We might see more of a path ahead, where earlier the path was entirely blocked by entangled overgrowth leaving us stuck and in the dark.   How do we “winterize” – how do we proactively prepare to receive winter and the gift of clarity it may provide? Rachel Miller poses 10 excellent questions along with very simple, doable action steps—economically and practically feasible for almost anyone—in her article:  If You’re Already Dreading Winter, Here Are Some Small Ways to Prepare Now.

To get us thinking along this “winterizing” path, she suggests we begin by asking ourselves: “What, in four months, would I absolutely regret not doing when I had the chance?” Now, that will bring some focus and clarity! All the best as you spend a little time with that question and go about winterizing!

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