Cold, but satisfied

David Busch

As my friend glanced at his empty glass at Ray’s, I knew he had enough of the conversation. It was either another beer or go. I had probably battled the issue for too long, making the same point over and over. And he made his points, vital ones that made me re-think my position. I understood his impatience and obliged to leave.

We pushed open the door at Ray’s and felt the harsh wind of winter smack us directly in the face, reminding me again of our discussion. I didn’t dare bring it up, but I kept on thinking about it.

My friend trudged a couple feet ahead of me, head down battling the cool winds. He was right. When the weather turns cold, it is tough to keep a mental and emotional balance, especially in Ohio’s winters. During winter, there’s the added concern of driving in extreme conditions, battling the cold to brush off the car and walking through campus with wet jeans, sloshing through snow, mud and who knows what else. There’s the endless salt wreaking havoc on students’ cars that aren’t in the greatest condition to begin with. There’s the lack of sunlight and the cloudy nights — the Big Dipper lost in the gray and dreary abyss of winter. Winter isn’t pleasant, especially here in Ohio where winter tends to be the best and only friend of the state.

And so as long as the cold winter months continue, bedrooms and living rooms will continue to be the haven of defense from the cold winter, and cookies and potato chips will continue to be the foods of choice. More sleep, more weight and less study. Empty thoughts and existential questions will continue to pervade and wrap around the mind while attempting to do work or lay in bed to fall asleep.

I hopped into my car and I closed and opened my hand, trying to bring life back to the frozen claw. I looked up ahead as my friend picked up his pace to get into his car. The cold wasn’t helping his anger management. My friend was also right when he spoke about the biological factors that must be accounted for. The reduced level of sunlight disrupts the body’s internal clock and the change in seasons unbalances the natural hormones, such as melatonin and serotonin that affect moods and sleep patterns.

At his apartment, I found my mind in deep contemplation of my next move in chess. He was right: Just like the game of chess, there are many factors. And Seasonal Affective Disorder is no different; it has a layer cake of varying aspects, whether environmental or biological.

Although these factors must be acknowledged, SAD, especially here in Ohio, has become an excuse of frustration and apathy during the winter months. It has become too broadly defined and too easily accepted. Thus, just as there are many factors, there are also many perceptions. How winter is viewed, then, is the confounding variable. Ask the animated souls who cruise down the slopes of Brandywine and Boston Mills, or the spirited freshmen who seek the snow-white hills by Kent Hall. Or the rebellious students who were sliding down the slick and icy road of Lincoln as my car crawled by. Ask the dog lovers who seek the quiet parks and wise eyes of owls huddled in the trees — the serene silence of winter.

Besides the outdoor adventures and the quiet winter walks, the winter months provide an appreciation for the warmth of summer and the grace of sun. It defines hope in the growth of spring; a definition balance. The winter months provide moments of inner reflection, a reconnection with individual thoughts and emotions that were forgotten and, perhaps, ignored.

And as I stood smoking with my friend on his patio, I turned to him and said, “It’s damn cold.” He nodded his head, but we were both smiling. He was right and I was right. We were cold, but we were satisfied.

David Busch is a senior philosophy and

history major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].