The Halves Don’t Have It

I’m excited about Winter Solstice. It’s the shortest day and longest night. I’m ready for more sunshine and light.

So says one side of me. Another side of me corrects me. “Ahem. The day and night are not longer or shorter. You’re speaking of periods of sunlight.”

Yeah, whatever. You understand what I mean. Do you need to be such a meaning Nazi?

To which that half replies, “Nazi? Really? Do you really believe that’s an apt expression? You read what Thomas Weaver wrote on North of Andover, didn’t you?”

“Yes, yes,” several halves say, while another half of me says, “Oh, give us a break. Must you be so damn literal all the feckin’ time?”

Meanwhile, another half of me is still on the original topic. They say with a sigh, “Don’t you love these long, dark nights? Doesn’t it feel cozy under the winter stars, quieter, and stiller?”

“Yes, I agree,” says my second half. “I can hear myself think then.”

I began recognizing that, once again, all my halves – I have at least three, or maybe four (they can hide in plain sight without warning) – are not in complete alignment. I like longer days of sunshine because they provide me more light to do things. I can make lists of things of what’s to be accomplished without factoring in bad driving conditions associated with the short winter days, and the early darkness. I dislike saying, “Well, it’s three forty-five. The sun will be setting in less than an hour.” And I dislike getting up, looking out the window, and saying, “Seven thirty. The sun should be rising soon.”

And, I feel the lack of sunshine in my soul and body during these short days. I do walk in the winter, and soak in whatever sunshine comes available. It frequently doesn’t feel like enough.

I like getting up at six in the morning and having sunshine streaming in the windows. I like going out at nine in the evening in time to catch the sunset’s beginning.

But winter and its long days do have a soothing effect on me. The holidays are the exception, but they’re human creations. Without the holidays, I feel like winter and the long hours of darkness provide me with an environment that helps me recuperate from the rest of the year. Like the earth, I’m resting, and preparing to grow again.

Of course, weather and the circumstances accompanying seasons are the chunky ingredients that throw tastes into different directions. The heat of the summer can be endured, but then a drought becomes extended, wildfires begin, and smoke pollutes the air. Winter’s cold is refreshing, but then the wind blows, and the ground freezes, and you walk carefully, lest a fall claims you.

I recognize the problem. There’s just no satisfying me and all of my halves. I suffer this same dichotomy with other life facets. It’s probably because I have too many halves. Like, I want to eat healthier, but damn, some of that food is just too damn tasty to turn down. Yes, I’ll have another piece of pie, please. Yes, make it al a carte! Pizza? Don’t mind if I do. Yes, let’s have a beer with that!

Then, one of the other halves speak up. “Ahem. Need I remind you that you had to loosen your belt today? Have you seen your profile? You look like Alfred Hitchcock.”

That half is strict, principled, and patient — and critical. It’s the frugal, intelligent half. It’s the half that says, “A car is transportation. It does not need to go two hundred miles an hour. Even one hundred miles per hour is more than sufficient. There are far more important qualities to a car than its top speed.”

It’s the half that reads labels and eschews food choices based on fat, sugar, and salt levels, or the principles of the company selling the food. This is the half of me that always returns shopping carts to the cart corral, and doesn’t even complain about others who didn’t put their cart away.

They don’t hesitate to complain to me, however. “Moderation, Michael. Mindful eating, Michael. Patience, Michael. Think of your health, Michael.”

Another half of me often rises to my first half’s defense when the third half is chiding me for my choices. “Leave him alone,” he’ll say. “Michael’s worked hard all of his life, and listened to you most of the time. He deserves to relax, cut loose, and over-indulge.”

“Yeah,” the first half says. “Thank you.”

That’s when it goes well. Other days, it’s like a clowder of cats fighting over the same patch of catnip. We aim for detente. All the halves are quiet now. I think they’re napping, except for this half, which is drinking coffee and writing, and another half, who is singing “Clocks.”

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.



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