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On wintering

I’m not intending to turn this into a Kinfolk fanzine, though I realise that it is not long since I last posted about an article from the current issue. But another article, this time on wintering, has given me pause for thought.

There are usually occasions during the year when Wendy is working, and I am not.1 Every so often, I use the opportunity to go for a brief break somewhere alone, most often to a UK or European city. We’re both enormously fortunate to be in circumstances and at a time in our lives when this is feasible.

Spending a few days by myself exploring a relatively unfamiliar place is extraordinarily refreshing. It gives me days to think about things, reflect, and make sense of the world. It’s also time that’s filled with unfamiliar pleasures like going out to restaurants alone, an experience that doesn’t get nearly the fawning praise it deserves.

The Kinfolk article made me think about this habit in the context of wintering, both in its traditional sense, and in the sense described by Katherine May:

Wintering is a choice to stand up and say, “I’m not okay, I no longer understand myself, and I must be alone.” In order to winter, we must give up our attempt to keep our head above water. It’s a brave thing to do.

I don’t go on these breaks because I feel awful, in the way that May describes. Yet, they do give me relaxation, restoration, and perspective—and perhaps therefore to stop ending up quite as burned out as I otherwise might.

Over time, with the white noise of her professional life silenced, she begins to recover, like nerves slowly reconnected in an injured spine.

As you might remember, I recently read Gavin Francis’s Recovery which discusses the importance of taking sabbaticals in professional life, and giving time for proper rest and recuperation. Although the language is divergent, it seems to me that there is a lot of crossover between the two author’s main messages.

I’ll look out for May’s book to understand her arguments more fully.

  1. As my rota demands more on-call work than Wendy’s, the converse is true more frequently.

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27th March 2023.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » I’ve been reading ‘Wintering’ by Katherine May

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