Many of these columns begin quite unexpectedly – with an image, an overheard remark, a vague feeling. This week’s is no different.
I was walking recently with an elderly friend in her Kerrisdale neighbourhood, when she stopped to show me something lovely: a daffodil poking through a patch of snow.
Now, this may seem like a regular late-winter sight, but for me (and my friend) it appeared as a timely and instructive emblem for those who live with depression or otherwise low mood. In fact, as we discussed it later over tea, a line of inspired thinking emerged.
Depression – often acute in Winter, but generally an all-season torment – can be marked by symptoms of hopelessness, apathy, and a general feeling that any sense of purpose has abandoned us.
As bad as these thoughts can be, they are made worse because we most often feel no counter to them – no toehold with which to elevate ourselves.
The simple image of the tulip in the snow provides – at least for me and my walking companion – encouragement, that essential counter-example we so often need. For, upon reflection, it is an image of tenacity, energy, and above all purpose.
Motivated at a deep genetic level by the Sun’s energy and lengthening day, this simple flower shows us that regardless of conditions, purpose remains. For most of us folks (who are admittedly somewhat more complex than the flower), this sense of purpose is multifaceted. It is about difficulty, finding contentment, and achieving goals.
To do this we require energy, and that is precisely what we see in the interplay between the Sun’s rays and an early Spring daffodil. The Sun raises us, it warms us, and if we allow it fills us with that oomph we need to remain vital and vigorous.
Finally, the delicate flower poking its head through the late-winter snow tells us something about tenacity, which is related both to energy and to purpose. For if we find these two things within ourselves, we need only to be tenacious – not to give up – to experience the fruits they can give us.
Reflecting on the various encouragements caused in me by the winter daffodil image, and the increasing warmth of the Sun, my mind ranges to other sources of inspiration, energy, purpose, and hope that we may harness to elevate ourselves from the blahs.
One of the truly wonderful aspects of living on the Sunshine Coast is the sheer abundance of art – in its many forms – all year ‘round, but especially in the warmer months.
As I’ve written before, art can be an essential emotional outlet for difficult or conflicting emotions. But for most of us, the experience of art – listening to music, watching a play or a dance performance – can cause spiritual wonders.
And so, as I meditate on the image of a lonely flower warmed by the Sun poking through the snow, I imagine those wonderful days of outdoor concerts on the Coast, of enjoying the unexpected company of friends, the smell of open-air cooking – all brought out by the warmth and allure of Spring.
These hopeful thoughts, all brought on by a chance encounter in a neighbour’s garden, have the power to elevate the gloomiest mood.
A version of this piece appears in the 1 March edition of the Coast Reporter.