Leaning Toward the Sun

There are a lot of things in this world I don’t understand: 

  • Mean people
  • Why dogs don’t live longer
  • Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and all of the other diseases that cut our loved ones’ lives short
  • Why my brother Pat was born with all of the artistic talent, while I was born with none
  • Linear algebra – My son Dawson understands it, and I accept that he has gifts that I do not
  • Why people litter
  • And 456,294,234,567 other things that only ChatGPT knows (well, sometimes it’s wrong, but that won’t matter . . . unless it’s disastrous) and is eager to plagiarize in well-written prose

Understanding something, even a little bit, provides a sense of satisfaction that is hard to describe. I don’t change my oil any more, but I do know how to do it. I know public education pretty darn well. And I know enough about music, swimming, golf, cooking, website development, writing, and a few other things to appreciate those who are truly gifted at it. For me, the search for understanding is about leaning into what you want to be better at and what makes our lives on this planet so wonderful.

Let’s start with the Sun. I am no astronomer, but I love understanding why we have our seasons. I’ve written about this before, but I think we should all know our planet’s relationship to the Sun and why it causes seasons. Thousands of years ago, without the aid of the amazing Hubble or Webb telescopes, or even Copernicus’s and Einstein’s theories, Native American and other cultures around the world understood the significance of the solstices and equinoxes. In fact, I think they understood this science better than most of us do today. Right now, as we are about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere (which is where most of this blog’s readers live) is leaning more and more into the Sun each day. By the time we get to the summer solstice on June 21, the Northern Hemisphere will be leaning a full 23.4 degrees into the Sun.

That’s the magic number – 23.4 degrees. Earth leans that far off its axis. On December 21, the Northern Hemisphere leans that far away from the Sun, and on June 21, we lean that far towards it. Like the Earth, I’m trying to lean into the Sun as we approach the summer solstice.

Who doesn’t love leaning into the Sun? My dogs certainly love it. They will find a spot where the late morning sun shines through a glass door and just stay there, moving slowly with the Sun as its angle changes. As I’ve said before, I should strive to be more like my dogs. We have had a long, gray, and wet winter in southern California. It’s like I’m in Seattle. It’s like I’m living in a perpetual The Mamas and The Papas song. My friend Chris wrote in a recent post, “In April, California combs out her long, wet hair, and the hillsides turn silky and gold.” (I lean into his writing like the Sun – that is a great line.)

Last weekend was the first sunny and warm one in months. I leaned into it with five hours of pickleball, outdoor walks, and cooking outside. I haven’t played golf in months, but I’m hoping that can be part of this lean as well. 

I don’t like it when I feel like life is happening to me. Sometimes, way more than I would like, it’s unavoidable. But life is more meaningful to me when I am leaning toward something. My days are more worthwhile when I’m fully aware of my desire to carpe that diem, to complete a task, to learn something new or get better at something I love to do, to help another person, to make the most of beautiful weather, to enjoy a fleeting moment, to make the most of a shining sun that I haven’t seen in a while, or anything else that makes me feel like I’m making the most of a day. If we do that on enough days, we start making the most of our lives.

So, you go, Earth! Continue leaning into the Sun on your rotational journey. As for me, I plan to lean just as hard, toward our Sun and toward other endeavors to make the most of each day.

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