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A hope note

For many of us, the hardest time of the year to keep our spirits up is deep in December. Skies are grey; the nights long and cold. Some hens lay only half as many eggs this time of the year. Their productivity, like ours, goes down.
I’m reminded of a quote from Nietzsche: ‘If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.’
If we gaze too long at the darkness, the darkness gets in us and gets to us.
We have to find ways to avert our eyes from the darkness. One thing the ancient Romans did was to throw a party at the time of the winter solstice. They called it Saturnalia. It lasted a week, Dec. 17 through 23. To counter the darkness, they lit candles, gave gifts and danced in the streets.
Gazing at a television screen is one modern way to bring a numbing darkness to life, any season of the year. I flirt with the thought of giving up local news programs altogether. Dwelling on the abyss ‘ another automobile accident, another murder, another rape, another drug bust ‘ does a spirit harm.
Two hundred years ago, Thoreau moved to the woods partly to escape contamination by ‘news.’ In ‘Walden’ he wrote: ‘If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?’
Staring into the abyss is hazardous to health. Laying down the remote, getting off the couch and lighting a candle does a spirit good.

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