It’s about the time of year I start counting down to Christmas. I don’t remember it always being this way, but it’s been true for the last few years.
It’s probably natural to look forward to occasions like Christmas, and to those milestones and way-points that chart our course through life. I sometimes wonder how it would feel if there were no markers and no boundaries: if years and months were never created, if seasons didn’t happen, and anniversaries – almost by definition – ceased to exist? It would be a life of white noise I suspect, and very satisfactory.
If nothing else, milestones and the like help us to chart our progress and measure where we’re at. They’re symbolic of hopes and plans and indicative of order and discipline we need to feel present.
So, it’s natural to look forward to Christmas for many reasons – for the break it entails, for the family gatherings and sharing of occasions, for the definition soon after between one season of our life to the next.
Not all of that applies to me anymore, but it used to, and it would fill me with expectation. Nowadays, it’s the break I look forward to most as the occasion of Christmas is just about a non-event for me.
This is what is different from before. Before I would anticipate pleasures to come; these days, I look towards a finish line, I feel myself staggering towards. I need solace.
So it is again this year. I’ve been struggling for a while and soldiering on. I feel as if I lose a bit more momentum with each week that passes. I’m tired, physically and emotionally, and weary of work, which appears both tedious and without value at this time of year.
I force myself to the line, but I don’t have the go-ahead I used to have, and even the raw, stubborn will to continue has leaked from me week by week. It’s habit and discipline and perhaps a few tricks up my sleeve that keeps me productive – though much less than what can be.
That’s how it is. I need the break over Christmas to replenish my reserves, most of which are spiritual. Then, the theory goes, I’m ready for another year of it.
So, what’s the flaw in that plan? It’s boom and bust. It’s spiritually pointless. It’s a cycle of depletion and recovery, depleted by something that I have little interest in and recovering to do it again.
I need the break, but I need to break the cycle, too.