Winter is coming

We’re leaning now, all of us, collars up, hands deep into our pockets, chins down, bracing against the chill of another winter fast approaching. All that dark and all that cold. Not quite yet, maybe, but so, so close. The daylight stolen, the night thick and silent, the fog crouching low in the hills. There’s nil but grim determination to get us through this now. 

Just kidding, calm down, it’s not that bad. And even if it is there’s always something, somewhere, worth paying attention to.

No seriously, there is.

Look around. As the evenings cool and the mornings snuggle into you past that first alarm, as autumn drifts like a lovely smokey memory from your grasp: harden up. There is beauty here too. This is a Public Service Announcement.

Look around you. Enjoy the fading light of the evening, the sad nostalgia of it.

Enjoy space. Seriously. Actual space. You can go outside at night, wherever you are, and get a glimpse of space. How ludicrous. A huge expanse of gases and luck and time and stars, right up there, just above the Seven Eleven, or the cow shed or the fence, or whatever. And because of what you see up there, because of an incredibly unlikely series of events far too long ago for you to really even know how to understand it, you exist. And so does the last person you spoke to and the next person you speak to and also Marie Curie and Ghandi and Shane Warne and crocodiles and Youtube.

Also cheese is pretty great.

How magical are cities at night and the country in the morning. Not a question. They’re great. Let’s keep them.

Notice the strange people. The person singing loudly on a bike, no hands. The close-talkers. The over-sharers. The ones who annoy and confuse. Notice them in a way that makes you fond. Find the fond. Imagine yourself into their world hard enough that you can find it.

Sand! Sand is really a bunch of shells smashed up against some rocks. Well done, sand.

Arriving somewhere at night where the stars are better: always worth the drive. The most appreciative star-gazers may well be the ones who are doing huge stretches with one hand on a car door.

People who are dressed up to go out: here’s to them. There is something so hopeful and pleasing about the act of taking care to dress up for other people. Shiny shoes that you can hear coming. Pressed collars. Gorgeous necklines. Bold colour choices. Watch a group of people chatting out the front of a theatre, or a party, or even a nightclub. The excitement. The glee. The touching. The noise. Then imagine each of them getting ready at home, alone, before hand. The quiet. The act of getting ready requires anticipation of an unknown: what’s the event going to be like? Will I be cold? Who’s going to be there? Will they like me? Will they like me more in a different shirt? Note the contrast between that and the noisy street-side gaggle and enjoy the human capacity for hope and for trying, always trying.

Musicians practicing somewhere, making music, working on the idea that a finished piece of art can feel both spontaneous and whole. Extra points if the sound is coming from somewhere far enough away that you can’t see them but you listen to their work and hear their progress and feel a solidarity with them regardless.

Gardens exploding out of front yards. Carpets of leaves under shrugging trees. Nature, bursting at the seams all around us, even as we trudge through it as though it isn’t, completely, the point.

Old places, like stables or municipal buildings or ancient rocks, or castles, or even just bricked-over doorways and those weird little hidey-holes low down in the brick fences of terrace houses where the servants used to put the wee so that someone could come along on a horse and take it away in the morning.  The traces of lives gone before us, of people just like us who wandered about the place like we do, and looked at the same moon, and had crushes on people and wished for things and had secrets and watched leaves fall and tried to keep warm in the winter.Look around as the winter approaches. Watch it coming. See the autumn fade away. Go for a walk and find some old things and some dressed up people and look at the stars. This has been a Public Service Announcement.

This first appeared in The Big Issue. Please support your local vendor and buy a copy.