How do we know if we exist or not?
Not to get too existential, I believe something exists if it has an impact on its environment. Birds exist because they eat worms. Storms exist because they bring so much destruction. Thoughts exist because they can change our actions. I don’t care if all this occurs inside the Matrix; that’s good enough for me.
How does this apply to our existence? What kind of impact do we have on our environment? No, I don’t mean in the green, political sense. I mean how is our world different because we are here? Do you make a friend or coworker smile? Do you build bridges, actual or metaphorical? Do you do something that you can show to someone else?
In other words, do you interact with your environment in a meaningful way? Are you active in the world? Yes, sleeping or watching TV changes the balance of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the room, but I don’t consider that very meaningful or active.
I am a seasonal personal. Those are my gentler words for the fact that I experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year.
Seasonal mood variations are believed to be related to light. That explains the prevalence rate of 1.4 percent in Florida to 9.7 percent in New Hampshire. Cloudy days increase the prevalence of SAD. In the notoriously overcast British Isles, 20 percent of the Irish are affected by SAD. The fact I live as far north as the 45th parallel in Minnesota doesn’t help.
Treatment for SAD includes lifestyle changes, light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication. I manage my seasonality with a combination of lifestyle changes, light therapy, and vitamin D supplements.
In non-technical terms, my seasonality means that in spring and summer, I feel like I can take on the world. In fall and winter, my body would be happy to hibernate until the sun comes back.
To get back to the point of this post, the fact that I am a seasonal person means that I struggle to exist in the fall and the winter. But I am determined to exist.
I exist by:
Calling friends and family
Attending social gatherings
Climbing weekly with friends
Taking trips with others
Participating in a recreational roller derby league
Cheering on all those around me
I will have a positive impact on the people and world around me.
I do all of that regardless of how I feel: if I want to, or not. I know reaching out and being part of the world is most important when I least want to.
You may or may not be a seasonal person. But we should all exist. How do you impact the world around you? Share in the comments below.
*Photo credit: Nattu on Flickr, Creative Commons License
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