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A Different Kind of Calendar

January 14, 2017

I was setting up my calendar and to do list for next week and realized that by this time next Saturday, it will be January 21st. I always rejoice as we get close to January 21st each year…it’s actually usually a little private celebration day for me because in my head, I have a different kind of calendar that is tied to the rhythms of light.  Here’s how it works for me:

The time between November 21 and January 21 is the darkest two months of the year, and even as we transition into Christmas in November (which I always greet with joy), I hate how the days grow shorter as the year comes to its close. As soon as we pass the winter solstice, though, I remind myself that we are coming out the other end of this little tunnel of darkness.  As we pass January 21st every year, I always compare it to its calendar opposite month and start to tell myself, “The light now is like it was in late November…in a month, it will be like late October…and soon we will be like late September…” and so it goes.  I count both forwards and backwards at the same time, and coach myself to happily anticipate the returning of the light. Every day is closer to the light I loved last summer and all the summers past. I think because I see things in this weird way, I never feel low as some people do in these dark after-Christmas months of January and February…because to me, they are taking us in the right direction.  Each of these cold gray days brings us closer to more light, so I am always glad for them. Similarly, although I love the lengthening of days, I’m not sad on June 21st (the calendar’s other solstice tipping point) because I envision it as the center of six months of wonderful long light (late March to late September) of which so much remains…followed by the postscript of October–which compensates for shortening days with gorgeous fall color. I like to think it is an optimist’s way of viewing earth’s cycles. There is only a little short piece of darkness (with the lights of the holidays in its core) and the rest is all good.


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