embracing a blue christmas

” you need to know something about the darkness. don’t fight it. embrace it”

– the geography of bliss

but, i mean, the darkness is not fun. at all. and if it’s cold + dark, well, that’s even worse. but, that’s what we are facing right now in the northern hemisphere – literally. and symbolically, cold + dark, has taken hold over the entire world… with violence, hate, suffering, sickness, war. it’s all quite unbearable at times.

but, darkness is part of our world. and somehow learning to embrace (NOT ACCEPT!) the darkness is something that i believe is important. and i learned a lot about embracing the darkness when i lived in sweden (read sweden posts –> {here}). i mean, it’s cold and dark for about 4 months out of the year. it’s just a fact of life. something i had to learn to live with, because no matter how hard i tried, i could not make the sun come up or keep it from setting. it was what it was… and you know what? in embracing the darkness, i came to appreciate + love it.

a few months ago, i wrote a blog post about (read it –> {here}) the book the geography of bliss. in it, the author travels to what have been dubbed the “happiest” countries in the world. one of them was iceland. the chapter on that cold, northern country was my favorite one in the book. there was so much richness there, so much to learn about what true happiness is + where it comes from. and how interesting is it, that one of the happiest places in the world also seems to be one of the darkest + coldest…

it was then, that i began wondering even more about how much we can learn from the darkness.


it has been noted that colder places produce happier people. my first thought about that was, well, of course. everyone sits inside and drinks themselves into a drunken stupor.  which, in part may be partly true. but, there is so much more to it than that, i believe.

life is not easy in cold climates. nature is brutal, life is difficult, much planning and preparations are involved, survival is critical. doesn’t sounds like a recipe for happiness, does it? but, if we keep thinking about it, if we go a bit deeper then all of those things that make life harsh + difficult, we find that cooperation + community are extremely important. in other words, it becomes all about relationships. to each other and to the natural world. there must be co-existence and interdependence.

so, basically, what makes life in places like iceland work is, to put it simply, love. and that, my friends, can be found even in the darkness.


when surrounded with the stark, tough, natural surroundings,  life can feel like an impending doom. everything becomes a struggle and a fight to just survive.  in iceland, people have to work together to survive, but instead of just “surviving” they have also learned to create their own happiness – due to the fact that it is cold + dark for so much of the year. these people, who live and work and survive together in difficult situations, use the opportunity for the cold +dark to become inspirational. nature inspires with its beauty and it power. and the people of iceland seem to respond to this by creating the life that they wish to have – in fact, artists, authors, photographers, dreamers all flock to iceland for inspiration. the darkness forces people to imagine and dream and tap into their creative energies.

i like to think of the darkness as a catalyst for transcendental moments. a place where possibility lives. even in the midst of the darkness and cold, there is the possibility for inspiration, transformation, creativity, and love. i mean, without the cold, there would be no coziness. without the dark, there would be no beauty. without struggle, there would be no need to help each other, thereby creating community.

yes. it’s so strange, this paradox. but, without the darkness, without tough times or struggles in life, we would not deeply understand happiness and joy and light. without death, we would not have life.

so, if you are feeling blue this christmas, instead of all warm + fuzzy, just remember that the cold, blue, dark places often reveal much beauty, give us opportunities to create community, and inspire us in ways that we otherwise might not have ever imagined.

hold on. hold fast. and let the dark inspire you.

light + love xx

* photos in the post from google images. top photo by be|love|live photography

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