Onto something

It’s a gloomy Saturday, all chilling drizzle and slate-grey skies, the sodden swish of cars driving past my window. As one who has a tendency towards depression (even though it’s currently being well-managed medically), I’m particularly mindful of days like today, where it would be easy enough to slip into the dreary melancholy that seems to saturate everything around me.

I’ve learned to combat the inhospitable with the comfortable – by creating an environment of hygge. My Danish friends acquainted me with the concept before it became a cultural buzzword here in the States a few years back. If that was off your radar, a brief explanation: hygge is a word that doesn’t have a direct English translation, but the closest is “coziness”. It’s a sense of quiet contentment and comfort and well-being, usually shared with others.

Some hygge-inducing activities include slipping into soft clothing, sipping a warm drink, and lighting a fire or a candle. If you’re taking it to full-on Danish levels, it could also be about hand knit socks and cardamom buns, but you don’t need to go so far. It’s basically about taking pleasure in small, simple, soothing things.

Americans, in aggregate, are not so good with small things – it’s part of the “go big or go home” ethos of this country that can cut both ways; it can lead to great accomplishments but at the same time makes us particularly unattuned to the less obvious (and often equally wonderful) things in life. Hygge asks us to step back from trying to make a larger statement or to assume that enjoyment needs to be frantically larger-than-life.

As each day brings more devastating news and our nerves are further frayed, it doesn’t help us to attempt to counter the onslaught of the negative with an equal amount of the positive (probably not possible) and a frenetic search for enjoyment that will match the enormity of what we’re now living through. Rather, we’re best served by the simple and basic activities that bring us comfort, and by finding ways to support our parasympathetic nervous system through those things that soothe us.

So. A sip of tea. A softly snug scarf. A cuddle with you pet. Sharing some quiet time with your partner, sitting convivially on the couch, soft music in the background. A cozy late afternoon as rain patters the windows. The Danes are definitely onto something. We could all use a bit of hygge these days.

9 thoughts on “Onto something

  1. Hi Maestra!
    Thanks for this English class. In your first sentence there were 4 words (gloomy, drizzle, sodden, swish) that I wasn’t sure of. Ah!Ah!Ah! So I used my old 4 pounds Harrap’s. I could have use Google but I like sometimes the old fashioned way of finding stuff. The laptop on one hand, the dictionnary on the other and my pug who was snoring and dreaming (he does some bicycle with his 4 legs on and off) by moment. Oh boy, oh boy, what a trio.
    Thank you also for the hygge concept which makes a lot of sense. I was wondering how we pronounce that word so I typed hygge pronounciation on Google. It sounds like yoga. I’m gonna start to explain it to some of my colleagues tomorrow at work. I don’t have to let you know that the troup’s moral is low. I try to put some humour in that maelstrom of emotions but it is not always obvious. Some of my colleagues cry to not see covid19 patients because they have children under 10 years old. They cry. Verdun looks like a ghost town.
    That would be great if you would explain the origin of your collaboration with the Danish orchestra in regard of your famous series of Ennio Morricone’s music scores performance. It is a humble suggestion as always.
    Here the weather was almost like yours. The snow is gone at least.
    Stay safe & healthy (Soyez prudents & restez en santé).
    Note: Go! go! go! Pink. We love seeing you catching the ball on the beach.


  2. Wayne Zelenak says:

    Like Sylvain, I enjoy your style of writing with specific words that resonate with me. When I first started writing I learned that every word in a novel is specifically chosen by the author to convey an image and mood, in the mind of their reader.

    Reading your blogs, I have determined that you are an open-minded compassionate person, who loves writing, cherishes nature, devoted to music, a deep thinker, and a perfectionist with a vivid and wild imagination paired with a great sense of humor. Conducting a symphony orchestra is an opportunity to meet positive and creative musicians around the world but at the same time, an opportunity to arrange and interpret the music in your unique and talented way.

    Raindrops and sodden days provide a channel to another realm of understanding of ourselves and others while providing peace and harmony in the simple, soothing things we so desperately need to grow and flourish.


  3. Thank you for that beautiful, cozy photo. After another winter here in New England, I am really looking forward to the trees bursting with those beautiful leaves like the ones on your tree. It’s just a matter of time now. I can feel it.


  4. Clem Ryan says:

    Thank you Sarah. I like you also have a tendency towards depression but medically helped as well. In Ireland we are enjoying the wonderful weather at the moment. Spring is in the air and every morning there is this
    beautiful chorus of song birds. (I am sure you would love it). Its called the May chorus and as the weather is so good they are giving us humans a early addition of what to except in May. Starts at 5.30 am and lasts for an hour. So before i pop that little pill i close my eyes and travel the world for that hour.


    1. chefdorch says:

      A chorus of songbirds is the most soothing wake-up call. I’m glad that mild weather is bringing some much-needed joy!


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