Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend some time in Maui with my family. I wrote about it here. It was an unforgettable trip and believe me I know how privileged I am to have experienced it. While there, we had a particularly stellar day. We'd been there at least a week and were watching yet another beautiful sunset after playing and swimming in the ocean for hours and the light was golden and everything was full and delicious.
I stopped my daughter and looked her in the eye and said remember this. Remember this day and this moment when we are back home and a bad day comes because it will come. Remember this time so you always know that life can be good and sweet and beautiful.
More recently, this year I had an afternoon that equalled that evening in Maui. I floated down the Penticton Channel in BC's Okanagan with some of my best friends in the entire world. It took hours. I can't remember how long. We had drinks and snacks floating along with us. Our kids were tethered to us on inflatables. The sun was hot and the water was warm and we had each other. For an entire afternoon we did nothing but drift and float and laugh and eat until we came to the end where we had to deflate everything, dry ourselves and drive off into the sunset. It was grand and immensely soul satisfying.
I don't take days like that for granted. I store them away. Banking happiness is as good as meditating or praying. Maybe it's the same thing. For sure it serves the same purpose. Like building up calcium in our bones or a good layer of fat we can live off in lean times. We need to take in goodness to sustain us in times of darkness.
It's November now, which I have insisted for decades to anyone who will listen, "November is a month we can safely do without." Sure there are some pretty great people I know and love who were born in November, but other than that, please.
This November, America elected a crass, misogynist, racist buffoon. In the same week Leonard Cohen died. An abysmal time for humanity.
I used to have a few Leonard Cohen lines posted around my house. In particular in the kitchen I made a large sign with his famous lines:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
When my step-son was a young teen this was entertainment for him and his friends, because of course to them 'crack' was an anatomical reference. They would come into the kitchen, point at Leonard's words and laugh.
Ah, the children are our teachers. I would smile, breathe deeply and resist throwing food at them for mocking Cohen's words.
I don't know what to do with this November yet, but I am drawing deep on the reserves I've banked for this rainy season. This is a bit difficult as I'm practically hibernating.
In the meantime, I made my mother laugh hysterically the other day simply by walking her to her car wearing yellow rubber boots and an ill-fitting jacket over my pajamas. It's the little things.
It's still a few weeks until solstice and the light begins to return. But it will return. Until then I recommend mild hibernation, mixed with reflection on sunnier days. Attempting to make people laugh by your clothing choices is also an option. Whatever works. Do whatever you have to do to get through the dark days. They won't last forever.