Eric Evans

Registered Psychotherapist

Toronto Psychotherapist working with depression, anxiety, serious illness, creativity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer issues.

Of two ways to be cold.

Like many things, we seem to organize ourselves into two camps about dealing with winter here in Eastern Canada. More specifically, this year in Ontario at least, winter has been relentlessly cold. We haven't experienced cold like this for many years and for so long. 

The two ways people have been dealing with it seem to be versions of harmony or defiance. And I think neither one is to be preferred. 

The former implies an attitude that says it is better to be at one with the rhythm of the seasons here in Canada and not to try and pretend that it isn't dark and cold and snowy. It is a time for reflection, for rest, and for the contemplation of the year to come and the year that passed. It is the time for planning: of gardens, of summers, of vacations. The time to rest for the busy year ahead and to learn from the year that passed. Winter can force us indoors to read and be warm. Why would you defy this imposed state?

On the other side is the idea that winter is no different than any season and it should be embraced. Snow allows for all kinds of activities that no other season in a diurnal climate has. Whole cultures have come to be for whom winter is an integral part. There probably have been skis in Norway for centuries. In this way of thinking, necessity really does become a virtue. The snow  and cold are here, so we might as well learn to live with it, if not thrive in it. 

So I say surely there is a movement between both positions. There must be time in January for both: for curling up in a blanket in the dark days and thinking, remembering, reading and planning. And the next day, on a frosty, sunny morning, we can take some skis and find a trail and immerse ourselves in the chilly world. It's harder in the city, since it has been structured to pretend there are no seasons, so there is no real context for winter beyond inconvenience. This is a problem. But a simple visit to a snowy park where the gardens are fallow, the monuments covered in ice is just as real a reminder of winter as anything. 

Either way, it is an embrace. Either to give in and rest or give in and play.