In the northern hemisphere, Thursday, June 21 was the longest day of the year, the first day of summer, the summer solstice. The word solstice (yeah, you knew we were going to go there) is derived from the Latin word solstitium—sol for “sun” and stit for “standing.” The word was later shortened by 13th century English speakers to solstice. In Appleton, Wisconsin, if felt like the sun was literally standing still by the time it finally set at 8:41 p.m., a drastic swing from six months earlier when the light went out at 4:18 p.m. (S.A.D. is a real thing and you can see why).
The simple joy that comes from soaking up the sun
This far north, we get used to the swings of nature and the varying hours of daylight, but not so accustomed that we stop noticing them. When you can barely step foot outside for seven (really, eight) months each year, it feels like a miracle to sit in the sunshine with skin exposed. When I landed in Key West in April after the long (and I mean LONG) winter, I literally felt my skin absorbing every drop of sun like a freshly-installed solar panel.
The value of daylight depends on where you’re standing
In contrast, once upon a time I lived for three years just 422 miles south of the equator in Jakarta, Indonesia. On Thursday, the sun set there at 5:47 p.m., and on Dec. 21, the sun will set a mere 18 minutes later (since the city is just in the southern hemisphere, the day actually gets longer). The temperature there barely shifts between 75°F and 89°F all 12 months of the year. There are two seasons, rainy and dry, and the only real difference is during the rainy season there will be a brief shower in the late afternoon. Almost every day, like clockwork.
There, the days slid into one another and you never needed to swap out your wardrobe. In my experience, Indonesians have a very relaxed attitude (some of which may be related to being islanders), but I think it also comes from the lack of urgency of the days. When tomorrow looks much like today, they blend together in a way that is soothing and unhurried, and leaves you less concerned with squeezing something in when you can just as likely do it tomorrow.
In seasons and in life
I think many of us long for a life that is smooth-sailing. We dream of easy days without hiccups or problems, where the routine is memorized and nothing throws us off our game. But then those days blur together and the highs feel lower because there are no lows to stand in counterpoint.
On Thursday, I squeezed in as many moments outside as I could—sneaking out for a quick walk between projects, playing nine holes of golf after work and eating dinner on the patio—to take in the sunshine and the 76°F weather (sorry Texas, right now Wisconsin wins). Because in the winter, when the days are short and dark and cold, I will think of this day and try to imagine being warm and full of Vitamin D.
So instead we travel, we explore, we seek adventure knowing that there will be bumps (and stress and issues), because the joy of living comes in the variation. We celebrate the longest day with its extra light and the feeling of endless summer, even knowing that the days that follow will be just a smidge darker. And then, on the darkest day in December, we will rejoice because we know we’re back on the upswing.
Regardless of our climate or culture, in life we must celebrate the highs, find hope in the lows and soak up the sunshine in between.
With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business and more than 11 years of diverse marketing experience, Tara understands that clear communication is the key to customer satisfaction. Whether it’s consumer product goods, higher education, insurance, or healthcare, developing a solid strategy that leads to concise, targeted messaging creates a framework for successful projects and sustainable growth. Tara is experienced in writing copy, designing ads and recording radio spots, and is responsible for leading the Writing by Design team and its clients through each communications project.