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Are You in the Doldrums?

Being in the doldrums is good

Red rowboat on grass near small pond.
Being in the doldrums is a time for you to rest - just like this boat is doing by the pond at Evergreen.

I tend to live like a sailor.

Sailors love to catch the Roaring Forties, those strong, seasonal winds between the 40th and 50th parallel in the southern hemisphere, which push their yachts eastwards at a clipping pace. They avoid the Doldrums, a spot in the Atlantic Ocean near the equator famous for its hot, windless weather.

I love to race through life at a clipping pace – to feel the roaring winds of progress billowing my sails. On the rare occasion when nothing much seems to be happening, I can get worried. When I run out of ideas and things are so quiet that I can hear the creaking of my bones, I feel like an old-time sailor stuck in the doldrums. I long for the winds to start up again to propel me forward. I might get a little bit depressed and wonder if I’ll ever feel a sense of advancing again.

The roaring forties are blowing strongly through our property this week. The willows are swaying in the wind like fat ballerinas trying to fly. Long grasses lie flat against the earth. Salt spray mists the nearby hills. I bend forward on my daily walk, pushing against the relentless stream of air.

But, despite the roaring forties outside, I’m in the doldrums.


I recently wrote a memoir. Writing the memoir was a time of great activity. Words flowed from my fingers like the roaring forties. I tacked through the chapters and trimmed my writerly sails to reach the port of conclusion. These were hectic, heady times. Then I sent it off to various publishers and literary agents. Now I’m in the proverbial doldrums – a time and space where nothing much seems to be happening, when I can hear a faint whispering, like the old sailors used to hear, that I’ll be stuck in the doldrums forever.


There are two ways of viewing being in the doldrums. Some synonyms include feeling slow, flat, dull, or sluggish. Other synonyms are subdued, quiet, inactive. I prefer these last three.

So, currently, I’m subdued, quiet, inactive – in that I’m not involved in writing a book. It’s a time for me to do something different. Perhaps whittle wood like ancient sailors did, bake bread, listen to wind whistling through cracks in the jarrah window frames of our house. Feel the beat of my heart. Pull weeds. Scrub out and fill up the bird baths. Jot down ideas for another writing project.

Doldrums are good.

Doldrums are time-outs from intense living.

Doldrums are where new seeds have a chance to grow and be noticed.

So, if you ever find yourself in the doldrums, see it as a necessary part of the cycle of life.

Being in the doldrums is a temporary thing.

The winds will come again.

With love, Marlane

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