Perhaps it’s age creeping up on me that makes me more of a grouch than the carefree, happy guy I used to be. I go to bed with aches, sleep fitfully, and wake up with more aches. I take painkillers so I can move and get to work on time. During the day, sleep takes longer to fall from me.
Energy is a commodity I seek daily—it no longer sparks and burns upon my rise from bed. I stand on sore feet, walk with sore knees, and rest on a sore backside every chance I get.
With age comes pain in many degrees; it’s a fact of life. Pain tests our temperament, emotions, and mentality. On a good day, I behave as well as I was taught to, holding my dignity and wearing it like polished armor on a king’s prized knight. On a bad day, I snap and flail and fall to the wayside, broken, miserable. On a bad day, I feel alone in my misery in a world full of aching souls.
But in my awareness, I toast my fellow brothers and sisters and rally them to rise up, face their pain and go on. That’s life until the day we die, leaving behind others making their way along life’s journey, following in our footsteps.
February is a month that never excites me. It seems to be the month that dumps the most snow on the town I live in. It’s also the month of my birthday. My birthday gets less exciting every year because I have fewer people in my life to celebrate it with. It doesn’t help that many of my family and friends have moved to other locales, some of them permanently to the great mysterious we all face at the end of our life’s run.
I used to love winter. I was young and the cold didn’t bother me. Now my body hurts when winter comes. My body is telling me now that it’s time to move where it’s warmer, but not where it’s hot. I don’t like the heat. It upsets my asthma. Which is why I have to stay indoors near the AC during the summer when the humidity is high. Somewhere there’s a happy medium. I just haven’t found it yet.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not depressed. I don’t feel like I’m a failure and that the future is hopeless. I’m simply tired of being in pain every February. I know spring is right around the corner. I’m just impatient about it getting here. So, it’s probably a type of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that generally arises when, no matter what I do, the frigid weather plays havoc with my body. I become the proverbial cranky old man when February comes around. Living with too much snow and suffering body pains from the cold means I cannot exercise like I want to. I don’t get enough sleep—a minimum of eight hours a night. And I don’t get out much to spend time with the few people left in my life who make me laugh.
Let’s face it. February is dark and miserable. No wonder Valentine’s Day is celebrated halfway through the month.
To counter February’s blues, I have long distance friends who give me great advice on how to cope. Now I watch the sunrise when I cannot see the sun. I also have picnics indoors because the snowfall outdoors is usually half my height. And I rearrange the same furniture in my living room that I rearranged in November so the Christmas tree could fit. (It’s also the best time of year to take down the indoor decorations and the tree. I sing Beach Boys songs about summer and surfing really loud while doing it.)
Pretending February hasn’t got under my skin helps me go to work every day in a better mood. Despite the pain, I can usually smile longer than a minute at a time. When I’m home during the day, I take naps without setting the alarm to wake up. I feel rested and energetic when I awaken, which makes me wish the snow was gone so I could go out and do something. And when I cannot sleep, I listen to the sounds of winter beat against the sides of my house and imagine it’s cleaning all the windows outside my home. (It isn’t, but that’s the power of pretending.)
Coping with February is a chore. But I am loosening up. I’m trying my best not to be a cranky old fuddy-duddy. After all, it can’t snow forever. Right?