One of my favourite books as a child was “The Phantom Tollbooth” and one of my favourite scenes was when the main character, Milo, gets caught in the doldrums and has to find a way to get out! The doldrums, as we are told, are a place where thinking and laughing are forbidden. The people living the in doldrums, the Lethargians, are very busy all day long, doing nothing.
Little did I know until later on in life that the doldrums are an actual place, albeit a place I will most likely never physically visit: the middle of the ocean. Currents move water in such a way that in the middle of most oceans there is an area of eerie calm, where there are no winds and it’s hard to get where you’d like to go if you’re a sailor, because there is little wind to propel you forwards. Much has been made of the fact that these areas now harbor all of our plastic and refuge that will not disintegrate and may in fact never fully degrade, ultimately causing long term ecological harm for us all.
So it is that sometimes I think that the most Doldrumy (yes, I know that’s not actually a word) time of year is the transition time from Winter to Spring. Often Winter weather is cold and refreshing, albeit well, very cold. But then later Winter early Spring comes with an onslaught of gloomy, slightly warmer weather and rain — in essence the kind of weather that puts one in a coma. Friends have been complaining about not feeling their usual spritely selves. I also haven’t been feeling that energetic.
Just as crossing a large ocean from one continent to the next, from one season to another, we may encounter aspects of ourselves that are inclined to rotate and gyre around without ever really changing. But this in fact is the beauty of Spring, in that if we can identify where we’re not really moving, what’s static in our lives, we can perhaps get ourselves moving again if we put our minds to it!
In the “Phantom Tollbooth” the way to get out of the Doldrums was to do what was forbidden: Think and Laugh. If we think hard enough about what needs changing in our lives and are able to laugh at our mistakes then real change is possible (and we won’t end up with the psychological equivalent of a bunch of garbage in our lives floating around in a circle). Also important in the story was that Milo’s dog, the “Watchdog” (who literally had a watch in him) made sure that Milo wasn’t “wasting time” and woke him up enough to get him thinking and able to speed on out of the land of the Lethargians.
So if you’re in the Doldrums right now, it might be a good time to Think and to Laugh. For time is moving forwards and although endless rainy and blah weather days might make it seem like we have all the time in the world, it’s imperative to start a new cycle! Think about where you want to go and what adventures you’d like to have once the weather turns just a tad warmer and sunnier. Which should only be a few weeks away!