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Winter is upon us, tis true. The sun has long since departed and is now a cold, distant memory but do not loose faith dear reader, do not resign yourself to a miserable spell of annual, wet doom,  there are oodles of joys to be had this season. Bar the inevitable Christmas rush and pandemonium which will no doubt infuriate, agitate and cause hair-pulling despair among many (seriously, WHAT is one supposed to buy a man) there are simpler pleasures which provide an equally, if not superior satisfaction and make one realise that life need not be filled with the constant hustle, bustle, parties, purchasing and general ‘doing’ as a means of enjoyment.

Sadly, as soon as the darkness begins to descend at the beastly hour of 3:30pm or one returns home soaked to the skin with soggy tootsies and bedraggled hair, we begin to wallow in self-pity and misery, counting the months until sunshine will return to our lives. Yet despite the inevitable layers of hats, scarves, coats, gloves, ear-muffs, woolly tights and fluffy socks which take fours hours to put on and six to take off, this is the most appropriate season for doing absolutely bloody-all and this, dear friends, is what winter is all about. Do not be afraid, I shall explain.

We are constantly taught that idleness is a sin, boredom is a curse and since life is so precious, we must fill our diaries with a constant flurry of activity until there isn’t even an available pause for breath. Why is this? Why are we persistently forced to stuff our lives full to the brim and perform everything at a hundred miles an hour? Yes, we are here only for an indefinite amount of time, yes we should live each day as if it is our last but why must this involve the pursuit of hair-raising, adrenaline pumping activity or endless, mind-numbing parties? Happiness, I am sure of it, may be found without hurling oneself from a cliff whilst attached to an elastic band or launching ourselves from an aeroplane mid-flight in the vain hope that a bit of silk will bring us safely back to earth or spending one’s pay cheque drinking copious amounts of booze in a club with dreadful music, trying to converse with people you never liked anyway? Call me a ‘coward,’ call me ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘boring’ but please continue to read!

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Whatever happened to the pure, unadulterated pleasure of just ‘being,’ of taking solace in a simple delight? This, after all, is the season when one may don a pair of wellington boots for any and every occasion (I must admit, they do look perfectly super peeping out from beneath a posh frock, really.) When did you last stomp and splash through a puddle or kick a pile of muddy leaves? As a child, I remember this providing hours of fun (especially when said leaves where aimed at my long-suffering sister) yet as soon as one reaches adulthood, it seems we are no longer allowed to wallow in such stupendous simplicity. When did you last allow yourself a moment to fall under the spell of dancing flames in a roaring fire? Or inhale its sweet scent and feel a wonderful contentment which only that odour can provide? There is no amount of riches which can deliver the feeling of sheer, exhausted pleasure that results from a fit of laughter or the all-consuming ache which accompanies the first flurry of love when one is wholly and completely lost in another, when time stands still and the outside world ceases to exist.  Where has the weight of these moments gone?

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The Buddhist way of life (stay with me, stay with me) a concept so far beyond the current religious fanaticism which currently graces our news bulletins, relies heavily on the idea of being ‘awake’ in the moment of ‘now’ – something which so many of us forget or do not wish to ponder. It may seem very airy-fairy or hippy-ish to some but it is such a simple notion which, if more of us embraced, would perhaps make for greater happiness and therefore contentment with life in general. Agreed, we may all dream of winning the lottery and therefore having the opportunity (and money) to disappear to sunnier climates where ‘happiness’ bursts from the pages of travel brochures and therefore seems to be a promise. But what if we could find happiness at home, with what we already have? Pleasure and joy may be found in the cheapest and simplest of things; a good, sultry jazz tune or the sumptuous feast of a block of stinky cheese, a bottle of plonk and an old movie. Perhaps all of the above simultaneously? These things may not be to your personal taste (but you get my drift) yet may offer one a few hours of effortless ‘extravagance,’ whilst provoking and exciting every basic human sense on the cheap. Once savoured, experienced and prolonged, these things can provide an exquisite setting for a moment of just ‘being.’

This is the season of guilt-free hibernation, of locking oneself away with friends, loved ones or none of the above and doing the things which sunshine does not accept; watching old movies and eating bowls of sticky popcorn, reading a book whilst huddled under a tatty blanket, whacking the heating up to full blast and just listening to the rain pattering on the windows or dunking copious amounts of biscuits into numerous mugs of tea until the bottom of the cup is just a mass of lumpy sludge. These simple things can hold such unfussy pleasure yet are seen as something which only the elderly and infirm do. Tis not true, dear reader, tis not true.

Whatever guilty pleasure or seemingly ‘boring’ activity that brings you a moment’s true contentment or a second of absolute peace, hold fast to it and never let another make it, or indeed you, feel inadequate or dull. Life is short, that is unavoidable, but there is nothing wrong with enjoying a simple pleasure or the idea of being happily lost in absolutely nothing. ‘Doing’ is not compulsory; we are creatures of comfort, ‘tis the season to jolly well embrace it.

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