Winter in Cleveland, Ohio is anything but predictable. November through March in Cleveland usually finds inhabitants experiencing an unpredictable mix of a beautiful, white, heavenly landscape to a gray, depressing, slushy hell. Tossed into this bipolar monster are sprinkles of spring-like days where birds come out to float peacefully through sunny blue skies, and residents move from their cars to their doors with a little more ease. In large part, many people in this part of the world tend to appreciate November and December, but by January, Clevelanders are generally fed up with the winter, and the complaining starts.
It’s easy to complain here, especially when your car is stuck in a ditch and you are late for work. But, complaining only makes it worse. Therefore, finding a way to appreciate the winter months is a necessity for anyone who wants to truly enjoy their life. Whether you live in Cleveland, or another geographical location that experiences a similarly challenging climate, the doldrum months of winter present us all with an opportunity to explore other parts of life that can leave us more well-rounded and more satisfied individuals. As we are forced indoors for nearly one-quarter of our lives, we are forced to find other ways to pass our time. When we use this opportunity in positive, productive ways, and we approach it with excitement, we no longer dread winter. We look forward to it.
Television, by the way, is not what I am talking about. I bring it up though to highlight my main point, which is that if we use this time to expand ourselves in ways that we have always wanted to, we can appreciate our lives greater. Rarely in my life have I ever seen or heard of anyone say, “Gee, I really want to watch more television in my life.” No! We do, however, all have our personal list of things we want to do. For some it may be reading. For others it may be learning a new language, or an instrument, or how to do yoga. The opportunities for self-enrichment during the dull days of winter are too numerous to list. To be sure, watching television does not fall on that list. At least it doesn’t for me. So, use the winter months as an opportunity to do those things you have always wanted to do, whatever it is, and do it.
Let me be clear about something. I am not necessarily talking about appreciating the outdoors during winter. I am talking about appreciating the opportunities presented to us by the winter months. I have heard many people say that in order to be happy during winter in Cleveland, one must find a reason to enjoy the outdoors during winter. For example, one must take up skiing, or trout fishing, or hiking, in order to enjoy winter. Bullshit. I don’t like being cold, so I don’t want to go do those things. You go skiing, fishing, and hiking. I am going to find hobbies centered around relaxation and warmth. While skiing, trout fishing, and hiking may be fun, it’s just not relaxing to me. If you like enjoying the outdoors during winter, good for you. Take advantage of that and let that be your way to a fuller life. But, if you are like me, and you don’t like the cold, you can still appreciate the opportunities given by the winter months.
During the winter months, I find myself immersed in activities that I simply do not do during the other three months. I read more. I listen to music more. I go to the gym more. I simply invest more time in activities that I truly enjoy. Part of the reason for this is that there is more time to be alone during winter. Once the holidays are over, at least in my experiences, there are far fewer get togethers with friends and family. Additionally, I simply want to spend more time at home because I do not want to venture out into the slushy, frozen hell that this place can often be. This adds up to more time for me to do what I really enjoy doing (even with two little kids). And, when I take action and actually do those things, I find it much easier to wake up in the morning, even if it means brushing a foot of unexpected snow off of my car at 5:30 in the morning.
It is too easy to complain about the ugliness of winter. It is too easy to complain about the cold and dark days that it brings. It is too easy to waste that precious time. Reward yourself. Avoid that rut. Find something you want to do, and use the opportunities given to you by winter to do them. Soon, you will find yourself looking forward to winter instead of dreading it.
What are your favorite ways to appreciate winter?