Friday 15 November 2019

Secular joy of Easter... it's enlightening

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

I must say, I've always liked Easter.

I'm not religious - although I no longer carry the hostility towards religion I used to feel when I was younger - but I've spent much of the last week with a lighter step than usual.

The reason was simple - the clocks going forward and the dawning realisation that the winter is on the way out. The joy of spring has announced itself.

This was a fairly mild winter, certainly when you remember the snow from a few years ago.

But it's not really the weather that's a drag, or even the temperature.

No, it's the darkness.

My mother used to insist that she wanted to hibernate from October to March and while I always resisted the idea that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) was a real thing rather than just another excuse to be grumpy, the older I got the more I realised that some people are legitimately affected by the early darkness.

Certainly, before I got dogs, and when I used to work from home, I could easily go a few days without ever stepping foot outside the front door and as is often the case, the more I stayed in the less I wanted to go out.

That's as close to hibernation as we get, I suppose. But when I grew older, I realised that the fug my mother went into every year was simply a low level depression, more a torpor than an existential crisis, but something that could be crippling in its own, non-dramatic way.

As much as I wanted nothing to do with my Ma's figaries, it afflicted me almost without me even being aware of it.

In fact, it was only when I'd look at people who didn't hide behind closed doors for three days out of every seven to understand that this isn't normal behaviour.

Or maybe it is?

It's no surprise that the countries with the highest levels of genuine, serious depression are those northern European countries like Finland where the sun is a luxury.

I used to joke that we were meant be a Mediterranean island but a celestial planning error placed us in the wrong ocean. The older I get, in fact, the more convinced I am that the Irish are the right people on the right island but in the wrong part of the world.

So, as soon as the trees started to bloom once more, and the gloriously soothing sound of lawnmowers began to echo around the neighbourhood, I felt a weight, almost like a damp blanket, was being lifted from my shoulders.

And many people I've spoken to seem to feel the same way.

So now is a time for optimism, for not having to turn on the lights until late in the evening and dreaming that foolish dream that we will have a great summer.

Bring it on.

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