Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Blues?

“SAD” is a pretty humorous acronym for seasonal affective disorder. Obviously a forced one. SAD is known by its more popular names winter depression or winter blues. It’s a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter, repeatedly, year after year.

This morning after my normal racquetball set of 4 games against Gary, I came home to brew some coffee and start the work day. I had a few minutes with Michelle and apologized for being “poopy” the last couple of weeks.

She said she thinks I have SAD since I get like this every fall. Really?

I asked her if she was joking and she said no- that I get kind of down and cranky this time every year. I just don’t see it, but it’s true that those kinds of things are rarely recognized by the person exhibiting the behavior, so I’m taking to heart her suggestion.

I’ve spent a few minutes thinking about what this might be… what is going on in my head that might be repeating each year? What it might be I think is time. A simple yet eternally complex thing that is all around us but can never be seen, touched, captured, stopped, or changed. It’s just moving along some massive linear path pulling us along in a giant wake.

The ending of another year, and the change and death that accompanies it (trees, leaves, bright hot sunshine, grass, etc) probably triggers a deep process in my mind. A recognition that this life is fleeting.

I remember the intense joy fall would bring as a kid. It signaled Christmas break from school, coming snowstorms and free days, lack of responsibility and a freedom that children just can’t seem to understand and appreciate until it’s slipped from their fingers by the time they hit high school. Fall was Halloween, candy, Thanksgiving, friends, tackle football in the yard, bb-gun hunting in the woods trying to walk quietly over oceans of fallen leaves, and no more mowing the lawn for 5 or 6 months. Oh. Fall.

Now at forty-two fall signals different things. It still has a good side for sure… Halloween is about watching the kids enjoy it. The postponement of yard work is nice, and the relaxing days of Thanksgiving and Christmas week are certainly ahead. But there is a down side now.

Fall makes me remember my kids are getting older by another year, and they will be out of the house faster than I can imagine. It reminds me of loved ones no longer here, of the temporal nature of this life. It’s flying by so quickly.

I guess as I sit here and free-flow type out my thoughts I would beg to differ with Michelle. While I would agree that I may have seasonal affective disorder, I don’t think it’s really a disorder. I think it’s rather normal to pause, remember and reflect- and with that will always come sadness and joy. And I don’t think its depression. While my mood is certainly altered, it really is best described as somber and thoughtful. With a dash of crankiness thrown in to be honest. And it passes.

As I see life move by, it also causes me to think about the Author of this life. The one Who is always there with me as I recall life and its joyous and sad times, and Who is preparing me in ways I can see and others that I don’t yet recognize, for the life to come.