Wintering by Katherine May invites you to change how you relate to your own fallow times.
Katherine May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear.
Wintering provides a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.
A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat.
Scroll down to read 30 quotes from Wintering by Katherine May.
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30 Quotes from Wintering by Katherine May
Everybody winters at one time or another; some winter over and over again.
Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.
However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful. Yet it’s also inevitable.
We who have wintered have learned some things. We sing it out like birds. We let our voices fill the air.
We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.
Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.
We may never choose to winter, but we can choose how.
We like to imagine that it’s possible for life to be one eternal summer, and that we have uniquely failed to achieve that for ourselves. We dream of an equatorial habitat, forever close to the sun; an endless, unvarying high season. But life’s not like that.
Emotionally, we’re prone to stifling summers and low, dark winters, to sudden drops in temperature, to light and shade.
Winter had blanked me, blasted me wide open. In all that whiteness, I saw the chance to make myself new again.
I began to get a feel for my winterings: their length and breadth, their heft. I knew that they didn’t last forever. I knew that I had to find the most comfortable way to live through them until spring.
We’re not raised to recognize wintering, or to acknowledge its inevitability. Instead, we tend to see it as a humiliation, something that should be hidden from view lest we shock the world too greatly.
In our relentlessly busy contemporary world, we are forever trying to defer the onset of winter.
A sharp wintering, sometimes, would do us good.
Like the robin, we sometimes sing to show how strong we are, and sometimes sing in hope of better times. We sing either way.
Change will not stop happening. The only part we can control is our response.
After all, unhappiness has a function: it tells us that something is going wrong. If we don’t allow ourselves the fundamental honesty of our own sadness, then we miss an important cue to adapt.
Sometimes, the best response to our howls of anguish is the honest one: we need friends who wince along with our pain, who tolerate our gloom, and who allow us to be weak for a while when we’re finding our feet again.
For plants and animals, winter is part of the job. The same is true for humans.
To get better at wintering, we need to address our very notion of time. We tend to imagine that our lives are linear, but they are in fact cyclical.
There are times when everything seems easy, and times when it all seems impossibly hard. To make that manageable, we only have to remember that our present will one day become a past, and our future will be our present.
The things we put behind us will often come around again. The things that trouble us now will one day be past history.
We can only deal with what’s in front of us at this moment in time. We take the next necessary action, and the next. At some point along the line, that next action will feel joyful again.
It often seems easier to stay in winter, burrowed down into our hibernation nests, away from the glare of the sun. But we are brave, and the new world awaits us, gleaming and green, alive with the beat of wings.
Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through.
You need to live a life that you can cope with, not the one that other people want.
This isn’t about getting you fixed. This is about you living the best life you can with the parameters that you have.
Snow creates that quality of awe in the face of a power greater than ours. It epitomizes the aesthetic notion of the sublime, in which greatness and beauty couple to overcome you—a small, frail human—entirely.
If happiness is a skill, then sadness is, too.
Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered.
Which quote from Wintering by Katherine May is your favorite?
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