AS THE warmer weather arrives – or at least dips a toe gingerly in the water – spare a thought for the Happy Friends of Darkness and Cold.
The Swedish based organisation has reclaimed winter, positing a connection between northern melancholy and creative thoughtfulness. Being Scandinavian, there's a depressing emphasis on sport or, at least, bathing in freezing cold water.
But, otherwise, their heart's in the right place with their melankoliad, a festival that celebrates darkness as a deep well into which the mind might dive to discover joy. It sounds counter-intuitive: joy in melancholia. But, once you get past the initial gloom, digging deep into your subterranean cave can result in the discovery of health-enhancing nuggets.
Melancholy, say the Happy Friends of D and C, must shrug off its sad image. It's not for losers. It's for winners.
Cold similarly can spur citizens to greater efforts, whereas heat saps the soul and results in louche pastimes such as siestas. I didn't get where I am today by having a siesta. Mind you, I'm the gloomiest person in western Europe.
That said, to every thing there is a season, and top Taoists will tell you there's no winter without summer, no darkness without light, no cold without warmth. That's probably why spring and autumn are most people's favourite seasons. They've got a bit of everything, but nothing too extreme.
However, the new northern idea is that we need not reject darkness and cold as purely negative phenomena. We should celebrate their positive side, appreciating them when the time is right, just as we embrace spring warmth and light as the season turns.
I hate to sound controversial, but I predict spring will be followed by summer this year. Then will come autumn and last – but not least – winter. I'm looking forward to it already.
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