Porkpie Hat—Basic Rules for Post Mid-Winter Survival

As we all know, January has been scientifically proven to be approximately twice as long as all the other months of the year put together. This is indisputable. This, by itself, is a problem, and contributes to psychological balance and physiological homeostasis becoming approximately as stable as an existential tilt-a-whirl. This, of course, follows hard upon the heels of the stressful winter holiday season, with its (at least for me) Caligula-like levels of self-indulgence, and its many literal, financial, and spiritual hangovers. Compounding the dire situation still further is the fact that January is followed pretty much immediately by the hideous hybrid month, known as ‘Farch,’ which T.S. Eliot famously described as ‘“the cruellest month.” (Note to self: renounce your lazy-ass ways, and be sure to verify this literary reference before embarrassing yourself and sending it off to the editor! You have been warned.)

[Mission accomplished – just not the one you wanted.  -Ed.]

With all of that in mind, I feel it behooves me to provide my gracious, long-suffering readers with a few helpful hints and tidbits that may help them endure the frozen, sodden, windswept temporal territory between now and the arrival of spring. So, here goes:

  1. Take the advice of Goethe: Never hurry, never rest. Well, I say “never rest,” but really you should probably rest quite frequently. And eat those pink frosted donuts, the kind with sprinkles. You can do that while you’re resting.
  2. Make lots of mistakes. I mean, really fuck things up. You know you’re going to anyway, because, well, human and all. But if you make it sort of a rule, then you can have the satisfaction of placing a check mark beside it. It may be helpful to invest in a clipboard.
  3. Listen to more music, and expand your horizons. Listen to everything from Scandinavian death metal to Chopin etudes. Nothing cauterizes the ragged, wounded soul quite so well as the soft torch of music.
  4. Take up four new interests, and stick with them. You can easily find the time by cutting back on social media and Netflix. You spend way too much time in front of a screen. You know it’s true.
  5. Always be kind, and be generous with your time and energy on behalf of others. But pay attention to the kick ass wisdom of flight attendants and adjust your own oxygen mask before seeking to assist others. I think you know what I mean.
  6. Devote yourself to one massively ambitious project this year. Something you’re passionate about, but that will really stretch your mind, body, and soul. Write a string quartet or a romance novel. Train for a marathon. Knit yourself a space shuttle.
  7. Find lots of really good hiding places. Abandoned aquariums or treehouses can be good. Bring lots of candles, books, jujubes, pickled herring, and stilton cheese.
  8. Read more, and eat more vegetables. Maybe trim back a little bit on an unhealthy habit or two. (But don’t go overboard with that, okay? It makes the rest of us look pretty bad.)
  9. Force yourself to do two things every day that you would rather not do. For me, it’s getting out of bed in the morning and going to bed at night. (Don’t forget the check marks. Man, this is gold!)
  10. Finally, do yourself a favour and ignore all of this gibberish, and substitute your own, more helpful strategies. Do whatever feels right for you and gets you through to spring. Should any of the foregoing be helpful to you, though, please, be my guest.

[Darjeeling Jones wrote for The Voice Magazine for some time before deciding to move to greener pastures after the first half of 2020.  I could always count on the Porkpie Hat to be thought provoking, almost decadent.  So I was very happy to receive the go-ahead to republish this piece, with the original editor’s note included, from way back in our January 24th issue, as part of the Best of 2020.]

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