Katherine May schrijft,
We pass through many different winters in our lives – periods of loss, despair, bewilderment, isolation, and sadness. When I first thought about pitching Wintering, I conceived of it as a guide for writers, but then I realised it was a much bigger idea than that.
This is how I define it in my book:
Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, side-lined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. Perhaps it results from an illness; perhaps from a life event such as a bereavement or the birth of a child; perhaps it comes from a humiliation or failure. Perhaps you’re in a period of transition, and have temporarily fallen between two worlds. Some winterings creep upon us more slowly, accompanying the protracted death of a relationship, the gradual ratcheting-up of caring responsibilities as our parents age, the drip-drip-drip of lost confidence. Some are appallingly sudden, like discovering one day that your skills are considered obsolete, the company you worked for has gone bankrupt, or your partner is in love with someone new. However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely and deeply painful.
As you work through this course [Wintering for writers], these are the things I want you to remember – we’ll return to these ideas again and again:
1. Wintering is irresistible, universal and inevitable
Everybody winters. We cannot stop it from happening. There is no set of correct actions that could possibly avoid it. This is not a personal failing. This is part of being human.
2. We winter in cycles
Life is not a linear progression through the years. There are times when we’re expanding out into the world, and times when we’re contracting back into anonymity. This is a pattern we see all across the natural world.
3. There is no shortcut through winter
Winter will take its own time. You can’t accelerate through a season. You can’t push it back through sheer force of will. But you can engage with winter, and ask what it knows.
4. Winter is the crucible of change
When we winter, it is usually because an unwanted change has come. We may not be able to prevent it, but we can explore how to integrate it. Wintering opens up the space for our metamorphosis.
5. Wisdom resides in those who have wintered
Every time you winter, you deepen your compassion, your empathy, your understanding of this world. It is your duty to pass that on.