Streetlights on the river Smoke rising from a chimney Red roofs in the trees My dog's eyes
Water being cut at the bow of a boat Looking into deep clear water Velvet Red velvet The moon in the clouds
Autumn is bittersweet. My namesake season is one of solitude, muted colors, and a slight chill in the air; the cliched comforts of warm cardigans and steaming coffee are comforts nonetheless.
But it's also the time when sunlight goes on hiatus, the sky–especially in Kyiv–goes a blocky gray, and lethargy sets in. Every year I go through the same struggle. Is it SAD? Restlessness? Just a human reaction to the approaching cold? I don't know, and I don't think the unsettling feeling needs a name. But it does need a solution.
I've done the whole "self-care" thing, lighting a candle and putting on some good music; I've taken Vitamin D and researched sunlamps. I've meditated at dawn and poorly contorted into yoga poses. Sometimes it helps, for a bit. But several weeks into the fall, I inevitably find myself cancelling plans, sleeping in later, and losing interest in things that usually bring me joy.
Yesterday, though, I felt happy. Not content to just go with it, I paused mid-stride and asked myself why. What was I doing? Nothing special: walking downtown with the crunch of yellow leaves under my boots; wrapping my scarf tighter around my neck and my hands around my coffee; letting my head bob to the soft music in my headphones; watching couples walk hand-in-hand down the old streets.
Life is about the little things. Yeah, not a new idea, but one I'm coming to accept. Sharing a joke with a friend, playing fetch with my dog, having breakfast with my husband: these are the moments that bring contentment.
I hate the word "blessed" (it usually acts as a self-delivered pass to brag) but the reason I'm even able to "enjoy the little things" is because I don't often have to worry about the big ones. Noticing the small miracles of life is a privilege brought on only when the yoke of daily existence is lifted. We're less likely to notice (limited) sunshine when a debt or illness is clouding our minds.
I don't believe that being grateful is a cure-all to seasonal depression or, really, any of life's problems, but realizing that I can love the small (my dog's eyes, an afternoon walk) because of the big (a safe home, my sweet husband) can, at least, bring a moment of contentment. And for the next few months, those little moments of light matter.