Winter Sun

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

It’s a cold day that chills you to the bone. But step outside, and the sun will warm you to your toes in a contradictory sensual dance with the cool air. I’m wearing an old jumper, which is oversized, ill-fitting, and made for a man rather than for my slight self. It has three large holes at the back: one near my waist, another a few centimetres above it, and one travelling further upward near the collar that hugs my nape. Facing the sun with the holes squarely aimed at its warmth, I can feel the seeping heat crawl into the jumper through the unintended gaps in fabric. They reach my skin, and the chill of indoors temporarily recedes. Even my fingers, which encase a large cup of coffee, seem to cry out in envy of my back, and its three spots of delicious natural warmth.

I call this feeling, quiet straightforwardly, ‘Winter Sun’. It’s a feeling of stepping within a simple contradiction: the heat on your back, the cool of the day. It happens a lot in Winter, when the consistently melting feeling of Summer dissipates into changeable bodily states of delicious cosiness and numbing coolness. I can’t differentiate the pleasure of feeling my body cocooned by warmth from the unpleasantness of iciness. One exists because of the other.

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

I think everyone has a personal dictionary filled with words and expressions with a particular, individual meaning. For me, the two words, ‘Winter Sun’, represent precisely this turning of ordinary language into personal narrative. Not simply referring to the logical meaning of sunlight in Winter, they’re also associated in my personal lexicon with an awareness of the precarious nature of happiness and pleasure, balanced on a contradiction. Without the aching feeling of stiff shoulders from a cold morning, there would be no five minutes of pure bliss, standing in the sun. Without the trepidation of walking home on a frozen evening, there would be no indescribable feeling of pouring sinking limbs into a warm bed.

I worry sometimes that we’re becoming bogged down by the idea of a perfect sense of ‘balance’ and happiness, as a static experience that drowns out the negative. Happiness is not really about constantly enjoying yourself, but allowing yourself to value the moments that you do. I’m worried about this idea of feeling guilty for not living up to a perfectly executed ideal of a ‘balanced’ life. What does that even mean? What if the only pleasure you have on a long day is the moment when you crawl into bed? Does that make your life less worthwhile, less pleasurable in its small moments? I also worry that we’re losing our human relationship with contradiction; a state of being needed for sanity, in my opinion. Whenever I’m too harsh on myself, and others, expecting more than is necessary out of a single day, or a week, or a month, I try my best to remind myself of that Winter Sun: a precarious, fleeting and totally contradictory feeling of heat and cold, all at once, that seems to say: you’re in flux, you haven’t ‘arrived’ anywhere, and you probably don’t need to. Now, if only there was a way to bottle that realisation and open it up at will.

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Images are all my own, words are from my notebook.


Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Lovely images. That first one is nearly hypnotic. You have me thinking of how much more gratifying a bath is when there is a chill in the air. I've been working on being gentle with myself for a while now. There are so many emotions beyond happiness that lead to what I see as a fulfilling life.

Olga Bennett said...

You have a talent to express the fleeting and subtle thoughts so well, my friend.

Jo said...

I can't stop looking at your photos - especially the first and third. Beautiful. I also completely agree about the idea of enjoying the moments of happiness when they are experienced, instead of expecting everything to be happy all of the time. I often think you have to experience the negatives to really enjoy the positives when they occur.

Kate said...

Hila, I love what you've written here. The 'precarious nature of happiness and pleasure, balanced on a contradiction' is a beautiful expression of those frequently fleeting and fragile sensations. Enjoy your winter sun.

Rambling Tart said...

My breath caught a little when I saw that first photo, Hila, because I took an almost identical one this weekend on my side of Australia. :-) I LOVE your beautiful Aussie Winter Sun. It makes my heart happy nearly every day. Today my man took me for a walk in it, and I wore my favorite woolie sweater that also has a hole in it. :-) Wonderful. :-)

cluelesspixie said...

I like your observation about personal dictionaries...
You seem to have an admirable grasp on both the world outside and the world within us.

The sun shines through your words,
I feel as though a bit of it reaches to me. The photos, obviously, are truly beautiful :)

rooth said...

Your photos are beautiful - it does very clearly reflect your definition of "winter sun"

T C said...

Such a calming note, a time of contemplation,cocooning, no haste.Have a wonderful time there, Hila:)

Petra said...

beautifully written, and I love your photos.

twinkilingeyes said...

i can't tell you how much i loved your writing today, for one reason i am in LOVE with the title , those 2 words had to be one of my favorite words...they just bring dreamy warm memories...road trips, music,windows car rolled down,happy thoughts!
the other thing is that i love that someone (that's you :)) could express the feelings and atmosphere that i can't ...that someone put that state of body an dmind into words which i am really bad at...thank you for a beautiful writing :)

Christine said...

I love that last paragraph--so perfectly true. Unfortunately, winter sun is different for me here (mainly because it doesn't exist). I would definitely love a bottle of that winter sun once summer is over. :)

happilypensive said...

"Happiness is not really about constantly enjoying yourself, but allowing yourself to value the moments that you do. "

There is such a pressure to evaluate all 24 hours of your day by this ideal 'enjoyment" level and this can create a false sense of dissatisfaction. It is wonderful post and I will always remember this sentence when I ask my self whether I am happy.

Jane Flanagan said...

Beautiful images and ideas.

Your post reminded me of this one from Jessica. Contradictions are beautiful

Mariella said...

What a beautiful post Hila, beautiful like only winter sun can be. because I also love that sweet contraddiction, the feeling of sun on my face on a chilly day..

Hila said...

Denise: I agree, fulfilment is so much broader.

Olga: Thank you, that means a lot, coming from you.

Jo: I totally agree with that.

Kate: thank you, I'm enjoying it very much.

Rambling Tart: oh snap! I love that :)

cluelesspixie: wow, that's quite a compliment, thank you.

rooth: thanks, the sun is so blindingly beautiful lately.

TC: Thank you :)

Petra: thanks Petra, and I hope you've been well.

twinklingeyes/Maria: If I've managed to do that, I'm truly flattered, thanks.

Christine: well, this winter sun came after an extended period of storms, so we had to work for it :)

happilypensive: I feel that pressure too, and if only life was that simple!

Jane: ah yes, I've read that post. And I love that she borrowed the quote I shared from Dreams of Speaking - I love that book.

Mariella: thank you!

Debie Grace said...

I love your words, Hila. I am inspired. :) I sometimes go into a situation where I don't know if I am living my everyday life well. And I come to realize, if you are happy with what you do, you are living your life well. Balanced life for me is being thrown in two opposing things or situations but still being optimistic about it. :)

Anis said...

Some of the pictures reming me of Monet's waterlilies.
They are really beautiful!

Sally said...

Beautiful. I have always, always noticed this moment in summertime - coming out of an air-conditioned building, my limbs still chilled, and for a split second the enveloping heat of the day is not oppressive, but a sweet relief.

I have lately been wondering if life is just a sum of little happy moments, vs. some underlying contentment, and if those sparks are enough, if that's the way it should be, etc. and I still haven't quite reached a verdict.

Niina said...

Breathalking imagery! These are so you in a way if I dare say. Love especially the photos of water and the flora.

Hila said...

Debie: Thanks :) And I'm okay with not having perfect 'balance' on most days too.

Anis: oh wow, thanks!

Sally: I've been wondering the same thing.

Niina: thanks, I'll take that as a compliment :) said...

Just felt compelled to write you. I just found your blog and am so relived! I was becoming disillusioned by the regurgitation and shallowness of the blogging world...the thought and effort you put into this space is refreshing! Thanks so much for sharing yourself here!

Alia et Libris said...

How I love the way you write and what you write, just lovely.

Hila said...

Thanks so much!