Fallow Fields

If you look through my journals for the past ten years or so, they will all say the same thing. February sucks, I’m not writing a thing, I’m not reading a thing, it’s too cold to go outside, all I do is go to work and watch crap television and go to bed at an hour where all the other grownups are thinking about heading out to spend time with friends. Why can’t humans hibernate, I wail, and would somebody please come wake me up when it’s spring? This year was no different.

It’s a terrible, empty feeling when I can’t write. I’ll look at a writing prompt: “The color blue.” “Romance is in the air.” “What is your favorite TV show and why?” and not be able to write a single word. “The color blue— what does that even mean?”

Worst of all is not being able to read, nothing more complicated than Facebook updates and aggressively inoffensive lifestyle blogs. I’ll pick out a book, something highly recommended, something I know I should like, and midway through each paragraph I’ll find myself staring at a blank patch of air in the middle distance, with no clue what I just read. Maybe, maybe, if the book is an old favorite I’ll be able to concentrate on it. “Reader” is an integral part of my identity. I don’t remember not knowing how to read, and not being able to hurts.

I’m not kidding about the hibernation, either. In February all I want to do is lie under a lasagna stack of blankets and cats and stare at the back of my eyelids, mind totally blank. I’m not thinking. I’m not meditating—meditating would require me to do something. I’m just switched off for a while. About the only thing that will get me out of bed is when I have to pee, or I have to turn off the clock radio because they’re playing Garrison Keillor again.

The thing is, I know there’s something going on back there, deep in my subconscious. All my creative energy is going somewhere, working hard on something. I’m just not allowed to see it yet.

Then March peeks around the corner and things begin to get better. It’s still light our for a bit when I get home from work. The season softens from Frostbite to Mud. Daylight Savings Time arrives and without changing a thing I’m suddenly living an adult human schedule. I begin to read again, write again, outline and plan and plot and speak with my imaginary friends again.

Things will get better. They always do. There are the faintest green shoots in fallow fields.


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