These short winter days have a certain beauty of their own. If we grumble about the heat during the long days of summer, perhaps we appreciate sunshine now, when there is less of it.

The office cubicle is a scourge, and it will take years off your life. Humans aren’t meant to spend their days interacting with screens, which I know is hard for many to hear. But when it’s minus whatever outside – or at least feels like it – the cubicle isn’t a bad place to hunker down for a few days and just work.

Hard work and patience are said to pay off, but that’s also hard to hear for some. But work we must, and it’s up to us to decide if we do so in the hope that better, sweeter, sunnier days will come. The line between healthy optimism and sheer delusion can be fine, so consider carefully.

That sort of consistent philosophy -- optimism, realism, resignation? -- to carry oneself through life sounds lovely, but I still think Black Elk was closer to the mark when he said, “It is hard to follow one great vision in this world of darkness and many changing shadows. Among those shadows men get lost.”

I read that in a book. An actual book, not a screen. In fact, miles from the nearest screen, on a sunny day in the woods. Screens are fine, but books and sunshine are better. Every day inevitably involves screens. Every day should involve a book or two. Not every day will bring sunshine, so get used to it and make the most of it.

And Black Elk was right. We do get lost, sometimes in the many shadows and sometimes in broad daylight. What a species. This alone is not a tragedy. The key is to keep looking and listening, struggling and working -- whatever -- to get back on the right path.

Of course, it’s also in a book -- the good book -- that most of us have read that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

The shadows of doubt, we are reminded, are not the enemy of faith. Doubt is part of that journey, like it or not.

Here is something you could look up in an almanac -- an almanac on a screen for all I care. The days now grow longer day by day. Then all of sudden, it will be sunny and 70 and perfect.

Another wasted day, unless you’re smart enough to escape screens and cubicles.

-- Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @FoxEJC.