Handling the big chill
â€śAll things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.â€ť â€”Thomas Wolfe
Animals in October, knowing winterâ€™s closing in, get busy. Bats scout out attics and caves for places to roost upside-down through the cold. Skunks winterize, digging elaborate burrows beneath decks and porches and sheds. Bears eat and drink all they can hold before lying down to a long winterâ€™s nap. Squirrels carry and bury nuts. And, judging from sounds I heard this morning, geese move south.
For much of humankind, however, October of 2020 is different. In a word, according to Princeton cognitive psychologist Elke Weber, â€śThe whole world is depressed.â€ť Many of us will not be hosting the big family reunion at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some of us havenâ€™t shaken a hand or hugged another human being, outside immediate family, since March. Those of us who religiously wear masks havenâ€™t seen, up close and in person, the unveiled faces of dear friends.
So, in old October, come on home, human being. Be present, right here, right now.
Hereâ€™s how. Draw two circles. In a large circle, write big concerns over which you have little or no control, say a gigafire out west or a devastating hurricane out east or COVID-19 everywhere.
In the smaller circle, write things you can affect. You can love the ones youâ€™ve been given to love. You can write or call a lonely, hurting or forgotten, or, in Wolfeâ€™s word, â€śforsakenâ€ť individual in your modest circle. Simply begin, â€śHello, human being. Iâ€™ve had you on my mind. How are you?â€ť
Your initiative could take the chill off someoneâ€™s old October (or November) day.