Last August our Middlebridge friends bid us farewell with a lobster feast. It was a balmy August evening and we savored each other’s company late into the night. One of our friends sighed, ‘It’s amazing Labor Day is just three weeks away. Every year we think summer will last – but every Labor Day Mother Nature flips her thermostat to cold – the temperatures plummet over night and the weather turns nasty. Then everyone waves good by and we all hibernate until Memorial Day. This place turns into a ghost town – everything looks dead.”
I’ve been hibernating all year. It’s more than just being a passive New England Patriots fan – I’ve been holed up like Sri Lankan sloth bear. I can’t blame the Polar Vortex or recent snowstorm – I’ve got a closet full of winter jackets so there’s no reason not to get out. I’m not suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – in fact I’m quite cheery, content, and comfortable. I simply have no motivation or energy to venture beyond my snug little nest.
I’m stuck in an entropic free fall. My energy vaporized right after the winter solstice when winter took the season by force.
Nature is enforcing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. To hip Newtonians, this means people who live in the colder climate zones of the northern hemisphere are quite literally, chilled out. The reason for this, physics wise, is it’s impossible for heat to flow from a colder body to a warmer body without any work having been done to accomplish this flow. Nobody feels like working once they finally take time to chillax. Blame Mother Nature – she threw the sun in the pen with very limited time to shine in the yard. Or ask a physician and she’ll confirm that during winter a lot of people complain that they don’t feel so hot.
It’s a new year only because some old pope came up with a calendar that says so. It is foolish to decide on the first calendar day of the year to put your life in order by proclaiming New Year Resolution when most living things outside are abiding by the 2nd Law. They’ve already progressed from order to the state southeast of disorder. And that’s why setting resolutions this time of year is futile. Even the sun can’t shine for even half of the 24 hours of any given day from now until we drink green beer to celebrate an Irish saint who rid the emerald isles of snakes. Right now in the comfy confines of your winter burrow life is about as chaotic as it is going to be – and it’s not so bad is it?
It’s silly to think your brain can take command of your behavior and meet the challenges of resolutions that sounded good after the last champagne toast of last year. After a certain age people get excited during the season of longest nights because they can go to bed early rather than get out and about. Winter brains are in janitor mode. Brains use these long nights of deep sleeps to do some much needed house keeping. During winter naps your brain has plenty of time to do a thorough glial wash (scrubs out neural waste formally known as brain junk). While you’re sleeping the brain sucks energy from your body to rev up its neural circuits needed to clean out lots of things you really don’t need to think about and certainly can live without remembering. Nocturnal brain washing is essential for clear thinking after the morning wake up call.
During a natural period of disorder when brains are busy vacuuming and dusting it makes absolutely no sense to make unrealistic pledges to bring fresh order into your lives. We don’t have the vigor to go from chilled to warmed up with the notion of change. Accept that the bulk of your energy has been routed to the brain’s clean up detail. Use what little energy you’ve got to go with the flow. Accept that we’re all milling about in the Entropics – an imaginary island chain where we can wiggle our toes in the water and all of our energy disperses with the receding surf. Here’s where what goes around, comes around. Diddle about on the beach long enough and the sun will concentrate its energy in your toe and you’ll feel the heat and high tail it for the sunscreen. For now, abide by the 2nd Law – conserve your energy because ice cubes melt in a warm room whether or not you get involved.