“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
~ Homer, The Odyssey
Nature shows us that infinite growth and infinite busy-ness are not only abnormal but also counterproductive to life.
All animals rest during either night or day (or both) and human beings are no exception. Plants also rest (their processes change between night and day and depending on other environmental factors, for example, photosynthesis, digestion and respiration may speed up, slow down or stop altogether when exposed to stressors)
But there is another interesting “rest” that happens to most beings: dormancy. This is a period where organisms “stop” growth, development and (in animals) physical activity in order to save energy (see more in Wikipedia)…
Dormancy responds to two factors: the “internal clock” that “tells” some species that is time for hibernation or to shred leaves and “go to sleep” and a response to external factors (climate, available resources such as food, water, etc).
In regular circumstances, dormancy responds to patterns and is usually predictable. When species experience stress (changing temperatures, draught, etc.), they may go into dormancy; or it may be interrupted when the organism has not yet gained enough energy or when the resources out there are not available.
This “winter” I noticed that the small tree growing on my front is breaking its dormancy: its shoots are starting to sprout as if it were spring.
I have no memory either of any past winter where grass remained green for so long…
I know winter is just starting in BC (Canada), but temperatures are higher than usual and we have had the sunniest year since we moved here 10 years ago…
Now, this is all anecdotic and I am just one person among seven billion.
There are others who are reporting similar issues, such as this article on “peak snow” or this story of hail and rain storms in plain summer (reported by my mother, but you can see data here, here, here and here …if you click, you’ll see the reports are from different years: the “new pattern”)
I wonder what you (who read this post) have noticed or experienced…and whether you could help me to monitor the changes: as the article on peak snow above mentioned, the new pattern is that “there is no pattern at all”; and that is, unfortunately, climate change: a change in the patterns of natural variations of the weather so we can no longer recognize any patterns that is useful for us. This is what makes it even more challenging: you may try to respond and adapt to new temperatures or patterns for rain and draught, but how do you (or nature around you) adapts to something that has no pattern?
Dormancy in humans and the importance of Darkness
“Sometimes at night I would sleep open-eyed underneath a sky dripping with stars. I was alive then.”
~ Albert Camus
Till electricity was discovered and channelled for our use, human beings were much more dependent on the environment and wouldn’t dream to see themselves as a separate entity: we were “forced” to understand Nature’s limits: we would go to bed when the sun went down and would wake up when it was back on the sky.
This, as this article reports, allowed us for more time to rest, think and dream…it also allowed us more time for touching and listening to each other. We may have lived shorter lives, but were not so stressed out and chronically tired as we are today.
Darkness allowed us to watch the stars, to communicate with the Divine and to connect with the mystery of life. Darkness also forced us to fully appreciate light and warm, to save resources and energy and to share: we couldn’t always just stick to one candle each, nor retire to our rooms to read or have warm…families and entire communities would gather around a fireplace, a fire or a candle: many generations together.
The invention of “light” has created an eternal day: we never rest, there is always some type of light around us (TV’s, the alarm clock, the front door’s light, our neighbours’, the nearby stadium, the street’s lights, the highway) …we can go to our rooms and disconnect from others, we can play games or watch movies through the night, we can have our own heating…
We have “gain” time but we have lost community, rest and the necessary focus to connect to what we are…
“’Do not let your hearts be troubled,’ she said. ‘Tonight you shall sleep in peace’.” ~ Lady Galadriel (from Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring)
May you have a good night.
Impacts of Climate Change in Latin American countries:
Evidence of climate change affecting hibernation in animals:
Evidence of climate change affecting dormancy and sprouting on deciduous/temperate trees: