September’s always felt like a month of hope and fresh beginnings to me. I imagine that’s partially because for so much of my life, this began a new school year. New school year, new resolutions. This year, I’ll be organized. This year, I’ll do all my homework. This year, I’ll get straight A’s. This year, I won’t be awkward. Spoiler alert, I never got straight A’s, I never did all my homework, I was never organized, and I definitely was never not awkward.
September’s also frequently the month home to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (though not this year). Another way to measure resolutions, these less tangible, more abstract, and with even a lesser likelihood of success. September is for me what spring is in a metaphor. New beginnings. New chances. Hope. Hope. Hope.
It feels like that now: my freelance schedule has sorted itself out, I have new monthly goals, a new bullet journal layout, revisions to conquer…I can feel myself brimming with hope and expectation. And anxiety. Not just about the possibility of continuing the 20-odd year tradition of failing to reach my goals, but because September is more than just a month of new beginnings. For some of us, for many of us creative-types, it’s also a liminal month.
September is the month between the sun and the surface, and the dark and the drowning.
The days get longer, darker, and the neurochemistry of my body shifts, just enough to slow me down. To make me walk underwater where before I could swim. The drag of late fall and winter on my mind weighs down the creative wheels and my word output sputters, sometimes dies. I am moodier than a November day, sun than rain then storm clouds then snow and sun again. And where I write my way out of a mood in the summer, I face blank pages for days, then weeks, then months.
I can’t say that this will work any better than any of my other September resolutions, but this year I’m trying something different. I don’t have a choice not to write this winter. I have to create. And I want to create things I’m proud of, things that don’t have the fingerprints of depression all over them. Things that in the future, I won’t remember, won’t know that I wrote in the winter just by rereading them.
I’m writing down my goals. I’m being reasonable. I am writing down the rewards for creating. And I’m writing down, alongside my goals, a list of ways to recharge and breathe and remember that I am not a bottomless well. Not just that I cannot drain myself for the sake of my art, but that this darkness does not last. I have medication, a therapist, a pile of books, a very good friends, but on the worst days, this darkness does end. Spring reliably arrives. I always thought those countdowns to the next solstice some Facebook friends did were silly, but now I have one.
How many days until I’ll wake up after the sun, how many days until I’ll leave the office in the light?
194 days until Spring where I am. For the next 105 days, the days will get shorter, and shorter, and shorter. But then they get longer. The next 105 will be the hardest, but in 194, I’ll breathe again. Tomorrow, it’ll be 193. Every day we’re closer to Winter Solstice is a day we’re closer to Spring.
And until then, I’m going to hang in there. And this year, I’m going to write. And if you need a pep talk, or a shoulder to cry on, or someone to commiserate with over these next 194 days, you know where to find me. I am here. My inbox is always open, even if you just need to say, “This sucks. Please make it sunny again.” I understand. You are not alone.
You, me, and the drowning days in the dark. We’ve survived them before. And we’re going to survive them again.