I envy the energetic souls who take part in winter sports. I would love to have that sort of strength.
I especially admire the fortitude of people like the man who stood outside the liquor store selling a street paper. He was happy for what little change I had and he told me that the next day he was going to be selling in front of the market and he would have a better day. He told me things were looking up – he has found housing as of next month and he doesn’t need to live on the streets anymore, he told me, happily. Seriously, here was a man standing in -25C, laughing with gratitude at his good fortune.
No matter how harsh the winter, the coming signs of spring offer new hope and new things to think about. I have the good fortune of having a garden. Planning a garden is as much fun as tending one. Gardening is something I didn’t really get until I turned 50. Maybe younger people are more woke to the pleasure of growing ones’ own food, though I suspect more people might develop an interest in plants after the passing of some forthcoming legislation.
Even people with balconies can grow pots of vegetables and flowers.The lengthening days give us more time to enjoy the outdoors so that hormones regulated by sunlight lift us up. The miraculous sun will trigger our brain to produce serotonin to take us to a sunny frame of mind. I make a point of exposing myself daily to the sun so that I can enjoy this wonderful free drug. Likewise the soil in my garden, I am told by scientists, contains microbes that also boost serotonin production. Serotonin, along with oxytocin, are your natural feel-good drugs and uplifters of spirit. This self-generated mood is infectious and prompts us to be more caring for others, to share our time and resources with people in need. This is the best catch-22: caring for others triggers more serotonin to be produced.
Our spirits are given wings and we dare to dream of the perfect life, whatever that might mean to different people. It’s also true that you can only measure the highs if there are lows for comparison. Never being challenged means stagnation. Growth is usually spurred by a good swift kick from the Universe or God or whoever your Higher Power is. Sunshine, hugs, and the earth is the best prescription for a happier state of mind.
The normal highs and lows of everyday life swing towards the positive side.The only difference is our set point – what you’re used to. To the man who had been homeless for years, the prospect of a roof over his head made him happy. If you already have shelter, you might want bigger digs and a nicer car and more and more. To some, acquisition becomes a drug. But no matter how much or how little stuff we gather, we can only feel true satisfaction when we share what we have. Now, go plant a pot of tomatoes and share with a neighbour.
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.