Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Winter Is Coming

In the book series “A Song of Fire and Ice” and the tv show Game of Thrones, House Stark’s motto is “Winter Is Coming.” The saying is both literal and figurative and reminds the Stark family, their friends, and those under their protection to be prepared for the difficult things to come. House Stark protects the North and they are the guardians against the evil that lies beyond the great wall at the northern boundary of the kingdom. House Stark stands in the gap against what lies beyond the wall and the horrors it can bring.

Overall, this year has been a good year for me. Sure, I’ve had my share of daily struggles, but, so far, 2014 has been relatively free of any major trials, tribulations, and problems. I’m so thankful and grateful for that because for such a long, long period of time it seemed like the difficult times would never end. It’s been almost five years since my Dad suddenly died and although that wound has healed, that emotional scar runs deep within my soul and sometimes I miss him so much that I can’t help but cry. I lost my job less than six months after my Dad died and spent the next fourteen months after that being virtually unemployed. I’ve been working at my current job for almost three years now, but the memories and feelings from those fourteen months when I couldn’t find consistent work still reside in the back corners of my mind. After such a long time of turmoil, things seem to finally be going okay. Not great or fantastic, but okay. Yet, I hear the motto of House Stark, “Winter Is Coming” and it keeps me from any sort of complacency.

I used to enjoy the season of Winter. I actually do enjoy playing in the snow. I like snowball fights and building forts in the snow and ice skating. I love a white Christmas and the stars are never as bright during the year as they are in Winter. I also love coming into a warm home after being outside in the cold and sitting down with a cup of hot cider. And although it’s been far too long and only happened a few times, I enjoyed sitting on the couch, watching tv, and snuggling with a female friend (it was never more than good friends, but those are all stories for another time). I’m not sure when it was, but over time I’ve grown to enjoy Winter less and less. In fact, during the months of Winter, I can oft be quoted as saying, “Winter is the discontent of my soul.” Driving has a lot to do with it. I hate driving in Winter and because of where I live I have to do a lot of it. I don’t really get to play in the snow anymore and haven’t been sledding since I was in college. My dad died in the Fall, but Winter augments the hole he left (particularly that first Winter). I might be wrong, but I really think if I had someone to spend time with in the Winter, I would enjoy it more. But, I don’t and as it stands currently, Winter is the discontent of my soul. I used to enjoy Fall and once upon a time it used to be my favorite season. However, now I find it difficult to even enjoy Fall because it’s the precursor to Winter. Fall reminds me Winter Is Coming and I don’t like to think about that.

But right now, at this moment, things in life seem to be going okay, but I can’t but help think that Winter Is Coming. I don’t like thinking that. I really don’t. I hate that the thought even tickles the recesses of my thoughts. I want to soak up every last once of summer sunshine there is. I attempt to delay the inevitable as long as possible and try to wear shorts until at least October. When Fall finally arrives, I want to enjoy it. I want to go on hayrides and enjoy bonfires. I want to enjoy things for what they are. I want to enjoy the moments as they arrive and are given. But, I can’t quite seem to shake the tendencies of my namesake (I was named after the apostle Thomas, famous for initially doubting the resurrection of Jesus without physical proof) and the internal drumbeat keeps repeating, “Winter is coming,” over and over like a melancholic mantra.

Yet, despite this, that mantra isn’t as strong as it once was. I see and feel signs of real change around me. These are not the physical signs of the change of seasons. Instead, they are signs that my spirit is changing, or perhaps has already changed, into something better than it was. Hope resides eternal and that, mixed in with the slow march of time, has made all the difference.

Winter is coming, but Hope is eternal.

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