Winter is a time when the world is darker, literally, and figuratively. Many people report feeling as though their moods are affected by the changing of seasons, and the darkness that occurs as the days become shorter and the nights become longer. I know that I have been in a bit of a mood funk, feeling disconnected, wishing for the sun and for the summer that comes along with it. I've also heard from multiple friends that they are feeling a little "depressed", or "in a funk". Being a mental health therapist, I know that depression is a real thing, however I also believe that the word "depressed" is often used when we are feeling disconnected. I often say "I'm a little depressed" when I'm feeling disconnected. Feeling disconnected doesn't feel good, and until recently I haven't had any explanation that helped me through those times of disconnect.
I am currently reading the book "Seven Thousand Ways To Listen" by Mark Nepo, and I love it. I think Nepo writes about, and makes sense of the human experience in a poetic and profound way. Not only has this book helped me understand and make sense of life, but I've used his writings in my work as a therapist as well. I came upon a section called "Untangling The Net" pg. 160 where Nepo writes about the Spanish words for conflict: enredo which means entangled (in a net) and desmadre (without a mother). Nepo goes on to explain conflict (in a much better way than I can) using the analogy of a fisherman's net. He explains that a fisherman's net, when left in the sea for long enough, will inevitably become tangled. Fisherman sit after their day's work to slowly and carefully untangle the net, loosen the knots, and repair the connections of the net that have become damaged. He likens our inevitable entanglement to the fisherman's net. If we live life long enough, we will become entangled. We will become in conflict, and our connection to the whole will become damaged. He describes how the word "desmadre" literally means "motherless", and how, when you think of someone without a mother, the thought that comes to mind is a child, alone, disconnected. This sense of feeling disconnected, entangled, is a natural part of life. Nepo explains on page 161-162:
"The aim of spiritual practice, no matter its form, is to untangle the nets that living snares us in. But though we can learn to untangle specific situations, even get good at it, life on earth is a never-ending weave of becoming tangled and working to get untangled."
I believe that our work lies in being aware of when we are feeling disconnected, accepting that this is a time of disconnect, and knowing as long as we work to "untangle our net", this feeling is only temporary and a natural part of life. Figuring out how to untangle the net is where the work lies as well. Why is the net tangled, what is damaged, and how can you repair it? The work may lie in communicating with your partner about built up resentment in order to untangle the net that is your connection to that person, or the work may also be in making a major life change, like changing jobs, moving, or returning to school. Sometimes the only work needed is to create the space for connection to take place (check out our post on creating space). Throughout life, the damaged connection will always be changing, what you needed to change last year, may not be what is causing you to feel disconnected this year. Life is a constant tangling and untangling, and often that feeling of disconnect is information that something needs to change, an invitation to make your life better. What knots need repairing in your net?