Friday, 14 April 2017

Weather, mood - particles and waves

Lent 2017: Day 45 - Good Friday

Apologies for not blogging these past few days - for some reason I've been getting home tired. Rather than getting on my evening, I've been flopping into bed at around quarter past eight then sleeping for two hours, then waking and spending two rather unproductive hours before going to sleep for the night at around quarter to one.

Weather and commuting woes take their toll. After a glorious Monday, (the past weekend was rubbish, weatherwise) temperatures plummeted by 11C on Tuesday; out came the winter parka and woolly hat; strong north-westerly winds, regular icy showers, dark, brooding skies. Not only have the past three days been like this, but the long-awaited Easter holiday will be similar, with temperatures around 6C, constant threat of showers, and winds pushing the perceivable temperature below zero.

Two bad days for commuting. On Wednesday, three accidents (tram crash at Pl. Unii Lubelskiej, four-car pile-up on the Wisłostrada, and collision between cement truck and car carrying acetylene cylinders on Trasa Siekierkowska) slowed road traffic down to a crawl. Yesterday my train, the 18:24 from W-wa Zachodnia to W-wa Jeziorki was announced as running 35 minutes late, forcing me to go back into town to take the metro and 709 bus home. At least I had an alternative; those poor commuters living south of Piaseczno just had to wait.

The combination of disappointing weather - that long yearning for sunlight and warmth still unfulfilled - and the frustrations of commuting - hit me physically with an unexpected fatigue and a destruction of any creative urge these past few days. And while last week I was knocking out an average of 32 press-ups in one go, these past few days I'm struggling to get up to 28.

Weather as an external factor over which we have no control plays a great part in one's mood. In particular, the presence of sunlight, stimulates the flow of those feel-good hormones, lack thereof can lead to symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). To quote from the US National Library of Medicine: "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed".  I've not felt depression as such, more a lessening of my usual joie de vivre, but certainly the lack of drive and an overwhelming desire to sleep when I get home from work. A mini SAD episode brought on by winter's slight return. Below: Good Friday morning, back garden and front garden.

Our lives take on a rhythm shaped by the seasons. But the climate's wobbly and getting wobblier. Over 20 years living in Poland, the latest snow I've experienced is 4 May, the earliest being 14 October. We expect those seasons to conform to certain familiar patterns. They don't, we become confused. Look here at April 2013, an example of how crazy the weather can get now. The mood-swings of a teenager - an appropriate analogy for this time of year.

My professional year is shaped by three distinct periods of intensive work, corresponding to the three term-times in the British education system (unlike that of continental Europe, which has two semesters). The first, now coming to an end, is between early-January and Easter. After a short Easter break, there's the mad dash to the summer holidays. At school, at university, this was revision and exams. At work it's an intensive period of meetings across Poland and in the UK, with much editing and writing in between. After that - the long rest, under a warm sun (hopefully, not too many rainstorms). The busiest time of year, from early September to mid-December, is a marathon slog. In the Northern Hemisphere, 40% of the year's work is accomplished in just 15 weeks, as autumn turns to early winter. Then the hedonistic escape from the darkness and cold of mid-winter, fuelled by copious amounts of food and drink. The period from January to Easter is thus a counter-balance to Yuletide excess.

My long-phase bodyclock is expecting the glories of springtime; the clocks having gone forward, evenings are long, I no longer return home in the dark, walking should be more pleasurable - but then in sweeps this wave of cold, gusty winds bearing dark clouds and icy showers. What should be a rising wave of optimistic sunshine is nothing but. At sunrise on Easter Monday, the forecast is for -1C. Dense cloud for Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, with perceivable temperatures below zero for most of the day.

Like wave-particle duality, we progress through life moving at an ever-increasing speed (or so it appears to us), accelerating through the years, ever onward, yet that journey is a wave, with ups and downs of varying amplitudes and frequencies. It is valuable to be aware of that; if you're down today, there will be ups. If you're up today - there will be periods of decline. How you handle that is very much to do with your awareness of the moment; taking it as it comes, and being grateful for being alive, looking forward.

This time four years ago:
Bicycle shake-down day

This time five years ago:
40 years on - Roxy Music's first two albums

This time seven years ago:
Twenty years, ten months, six days

This time nine years ago:
Swans still in Jeziorki

1 comment:

student SGH said...

Sorry to hear you were not at your best recently. Hope your moods have been lifted, though judging by the substance of your posts, the impression is that while writing you were at your best.