I don’t know about one hour’s worth of sunlight. Sometimes it is just a green flash at sunset. Sometimes it slips into the midst of a gloomy day for 15 perfect minutes.
Sometimes the whole damn day is nothing but sun, sun, sun when the air has gone on the car and I’m racing from one chore to another. Days like that, I’d love to curl up in an armchair with a good book while rain pounds on the roof.
Mostly, I just don’t appreciate it, the sunlight hour. For most of my adult life I’ve lived in places ranging from equatorial tropics to a-tad-more-than-temperate zones. Places as diverse as Australia, Africa, and the Mediterranean. Now I’m in sunny, funny Florida.
So I don’t always notice the sunlight hour; I don’t always stop and smell the roses.
I’m like the Orlando-based executive I once met on a plane coming out of Boston. He said,
”We were transferred down here from up North a few years ago. After the first year I didn’t even notice the palm trees when I drove to work every morning.”
All too often life is like that. But there was a time when I knew differently.
I was living in Cleveland. On Lake Erie. Back in the days when the Flats were a life-threatening pollutant smack in the middle of the downtown area. Before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all the funky eating places were put in down there.
It was winter and I was working in a downtown office, commuting via the Shaker Rapid every day from the suburb where I lived. I’d come up out of the bowels of the Terminal Tower into Public Square and that bitter, heavy air from the steel mills would clot in the back of my throat with the first breath I took. I’d think,
“Great! Here we go again – another f-en day in this f-en town!”
This was a period when I was in therapy, trying to turn my life around. A period when everything was heavy, heavy, heavy. Just before I cut and ran, starting the geographical cure that would last more than 30 years.
One day, browsing through the hundred and one meditation books that I thought just might change my life, I came across a one-liner:
A day never passes without a period of sunshine, even if only for a few minutes.
Now that was an interesting thought. Even in Cleveland? Even in Cleveland, in the winter, in the stinky downtown smog? I checked it out over several months and it was, incredibly, true. A day never passed without a period of sunlight, varying from a few minutes to the better part of an afternoon. Unbelievable, but true. So very true it was Pollyanna thinking, but still undeniably true.
I’ve checked this out wherever I’ve lived since then. Some of the places where I've had a semi-permanent address, even though thought of as being in perpetual sunshine, have their dark moments: rainy season in Africa, hurricane months in Florida, periods on the French Rivera when the cold mistral blows for 17 days non-stop.
In all of those places, on the dreary days, in the uninspiring seasons, when the wind blew and the rain fell, there was always one clear moment of sunlight in my day.
It's someting to remember more often.