Winter of the Unexamined Life

There is an essential sadness about winter. The wind blows unfeeling and relentless, the world retreats to cold and monochrome, all is harshness. But it is so intense you feel you’re nearing the cusp of its ungiven meaning.

I sense the godlike indifference of the cold of winter. The bitterer, the more transcendent. One cannot pit oneself against it; one is all creaturehood before it. One must go artificially bundled in order to endure it, and then on the top of a reed you see a little placid bird. It’s been outside for all of it, and will remain there all the time that I’m inside. It lives in the unbought grace of winter: the cool lines, the atmospheric softnesses and shades of blue, not separable from it all, the way I am. I have what it does not, but it still has what I do not–essential identity with a whole so starkly grand.

I also love the encroaching sense of tediousness that winter brings, relentlessly bordering consciousness with sadness and indifference. These rustle like the withered leaves in the cold wind, strike like the hard pellets of the sleet, menace like the surreptitious ice. It is true, and there is more; winter it is the occasion for lighting the fire of imagination. I love the winter for its comforts, which are more my comforts, but I do not love it for its comforts alone, but also its discomforts. I watched the flakes coming down out of the grey. I was able each time, it seemed, to see their more distant materialization farther away. Maybe it was an illusion caused by their descending that the ones behind seemed deeper up, but it was the suggestion of claiming greater penetration, of being closer to the threshold of a secret, of an understanding of the portentous meaning the low clouds offer to bring close, of something reaching down to touch my upturned face.

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