Tag Archives: sun
What does warmth mean to you? Of course there is the literal warmth of the sun, like that these two llamas are soaking up in the photo above. Sun warmth is a fine art – to want to sit in direct sunlight, it has to be just nicely warming, not sizzling and not impeded by freezing air that makes sitting outside unpleasant. If only the sun had a temperature knob so you could find just the right setting. At just the right temperature, you start to experience a type of bliss, before you get sleepy or sunburnt. Whether it’s lizards, llamas or British sun bathers, everyone craves that sun soaked warm euphoria.
When I think of warmth, I do think of being warmed by the sun, outdoors. In winter you can chase the sun around like a sleepy cat, looking for just the right spot as the sun moves off your favourite chair. Sometimes when I’ve been on a lunch break from work in the city, I’ve gravitated to the sunny corners of the street each time I have to stand waiting for a light to change. Something about trying to soak up that little bit of sunlight.
Warm is also something Hallmark greeting cards would like to tap into, and it’s something you hope for in your relationships with family and friends, but may not always find. I find it comes most unexpectedly in contexts of professional life or in interactions with people in the goods and services industry where someone is warmer in their manner than might be expected or required. It makes all the difference. People in admin and retail jobs can often be rushed, presumptuous and sometimes even surly and having worked in both customer service and admin, I understand how people can wear you down over time. But when you find true genuine warmth in someone’s manner, where they go out of their way to help you or understand you, where they turn their whole attention to you and smile and something in the tone of their voice and their eyes tell you the warmth is genuine, not feigned, then you are truly warmed. And something about warmth is infectious.
Thinking about what constitutes bliss for me – one experience I relish is the opportunity to travel. I have a need for new experiences and intellectual stimulation and discovering new travel destinations helps meet that need.
What is it I find so blissful in travel? Apart from discovering places that are new to me, although I do love culture and the hustle of cities, I also revel in getting away to places where the sky is wide and the night stars are not dimmed by manmade light. I also love the feel of a warm (not too scorching) sun on my skin, and the opportunity to go barefoot, or expose my feet to the elements. Sometimes I long to escape shoes. I read something once about someone’s theory that grounding or earthing yourself somehow by touching your bare feet to the earth could help ease jet lag. I have no idea about the foundations of this theory or its effect in practice, but I certainly find something elemental about walking barefoot on uneven ground or sand (preferably free from ants and snakes etc.).
In other possibly pop psychology, I’ve also read that just seeing green has a positive psychological effect on our brains and I know something in me opens up when I’m away from the concrete constructions of suburbia and instead surrounded by plants and soil. I love discovering unfamiliar species and seeing if I can spot various plants in flower. The times that I’ve been alone, or with quiet people on a path and we’ve had the opportunity to spot a bird or animal that would have otherwise gone unnoticed are times I cherish. On a visit to Kakadu, due to a series of circumstances, only a few of us in a group got to see Leichardt’s grasshopper, a bright orange creature who I’m told can only be found in one type of terrain, on one particular plant. There’s a great thrill in seeing something that is rarely seen, and seeing it not in a zoo but in it’s own habitat.
Another aspect of travel I appreciate is the random conversations and interactions that can occur. You can meet people in all sorts of situations: for example, as fellow sufferers of seasickness on a seal-watching trip in the Southern Ocean and then end up visiting a steak house together (even though you’re a vegetarian) and going to an abandoned lot to hear a rock band who do Mongolian throat singing as part of their act. It’s these interactions where your path crosses that of another that you remember, and value, even if you never meet the person again. In a place where you don’t know anyone else, and maybe where you don’t even speak the language, organic connections are made and memories of discovery shared. The bliss of travel.
I Walk the Line: five positive life principles I’ve adopted and embraced.
1. Seeing green is good
I read somewhere that psychologically just seeing greenery (grass, shrubs, trees etc.) lifts our moods and does us good emotionally as human beings. As someone who struggles with living in the ‘burbs and with the way we concrete over everything in cities, I try to keep reminding myself to get out into the green and just look at the plants, or sit on the grass.
2. Clean creatively
I hate routines, although I know they often do me good. I classify myself as a ‘project-oriented person’, rather than a ‘maintenance-oriented person’. I like novelty, and new projects and crises and stagnate with routines and the maintaining of daily repetitive tasks. In struggling to maintain household and personal routines, one way for me is to try to keep things creative. I bought some (purple, because it’s my favourite colour) dice and allocated each number a cleaning task. My aim was to throw the dice each day and go with the cleaning task the dice landed on. This worked for me for a little while anyway, as a person who loves variety I’ll just have to keep coming up with creative ways to maintain my house.
3. Let in the sun
This one is a physical and metaphorical challenge. I find if I’m in a bit of downcast mood, I tend to keep more curtains closed in my house and so this mantra is a reminder to let physical light into my house. On another level, ‘let in the sun’ reminds me to remember the things that give me emotional energy and life, and to make time for those things, even in the midst of busyness. For me some of those things are pursuing creative endeavours (art, craft, music), catching up with long-term friends who are easy to be with, listening to live music and walking in natural surroundings (in the bush, on the beach).
4. Learn from the cat
In my busy times, I try to learn from my cat. He can sit for hours on end, seemingly staring at nothing (or everything). He’s pretty content as long as he has food and ready access to someone to sit on, or a bed to cover with his shedding fur. He is a pretty minimal meow-er, only reserving it to ask for essential needs. He is content with little, and easily shows his contentment with a happy rumbling purr.
5. Embrace the absence
A few years ago I got into blogs and books on minimalism and de-cluttering. Having grown up in a hoarding-tendancy household, it’s taken a while for me to appreciate that freedom and a sense of home can be found in not being surrounded by hundreds of possessions. I used to find comfort in sleeping surrounded by bookshelves, wardrobes and craft materials. I have hobbies that tend to involve a lot of ‘stuff’. But I’ve been learning to appreciate physical (and resulting mental) space in the rooms in my house, since doing some de-cluttering. I also appreciate being able to let go of items I don’t use, and find them a new home and use with friends, people in need or in op shops.
I could stare all day at the silhouette of my cat in the window, his body dark and hard to see against the light, but the sun showing up a bright halo of cream detail around each tuft of fur on his head, back and tail. He unmoving and meditative as cats appear, basking in the early morning light coming through into the lounge room. All in all, he’s not really a cat who like sun, not like others I’ve known who were veritable sun worshippers. Usually he likes dark nooks and diving under my doona the minute the daily temperature drops below 15 degrees Celsius. He’s 17 now and getting skinny and the vet says he probably has kidney disease. It’s hard to think of life without his constant (often demanding) presence, but for the moment he’s here sunning himself, and posing against the light, enjoying the sun, and the worship of his human, as every good cat should.
A few years ago I went on a small-group tour from Adelaide to Perth, across the Nullarbor plain. Some days in the bus it was a sweltering 46 degrees Celsius. In Western Australia we visited the stunning Cape Le Grand National Park, east of the town of Esperance, and camped there for a few days in our canvas swags. The clear azure waters of Lucky Bay were tantalising, with their firm white high-silica based glassy sand and the green and granite headlands to look out at. Kangaroos even frequent Lucky Bay, the only time I’ve ever seen them on a beach. The sky was blue and the sun was shining and swimming was the thing to do. That night trying to sleep in my swag I realised I’d had too much of a good thing, my body was so uncomfortable there was no good way to lie, and I started shivering. I had to get up in the middle of the night to have a shower to somehow try to address my foolishly acquired sunstroke. The time in the water had been so refreshing, swimming and splashing with others from the group, but I’d forgotten how much the sun could reflect off the crystal clear water and burn like nobody’s business. I’m glad that time has taken away the discomfort of that terrible night of painful attempts to sleep, and left me with the impression of a sun-drenched paradise.
A few years before that I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam on a very small-group tour (turned out to be only three of us and our guide). It’s sounds like a joke when I say it was an Englishman, an Irishman, an Australian, and our Chinese guide. One day while staying in the Ha Long Bay area, we opted for what I think was described as a ‘bush walk’. Well it was up hill and down dale through a forest, over giant tree routes and we in our sensible hiking gear were led by a local in his thongs (flip flops). He was indefatigable and kept hurrying us along. We didn’t quite see the urgency as we wanted to enjoy the walk and take advantage of the photographic opportunities. Anyway, at long last we arrived at a rural village and were treated to lunch outside a local house. After lunch we walked through the village at a cracking place, and I assumed we were making for the road and a vehicle of some sort. However, we ended up on another long (but much flatter) walk, passing roaming goats as we went. Just as I thought we must reach a road, we reached a dead-end jetty instead. Now the sun was setting and the light was getting low and finally I saw the urgency of it all. This next stage of our journey involved a trip on a very small, low boat that didn’t have any lights. We crossed the water and arrived at the shore of the island thankful, just as we lost all light (by the way this was not the end of the journey, they then announced to us that we would be taken by motorbike taxi back to our accommodation – and I had elected not to pay more for motorbike insurance on my travel policy, as I was adamant that I wouldn’t be going anywhere near a motorbike (let alone riding on the back of one behind a local, in the dark, up and down steep island streets). My expectations and the need for light reminded me to be thankful of what I have at home – ready access to electricity. My trip to Vietnam also left me contemplating the harm that is done to countries that now manufacture a lot of our western goods as the skies in that country were gray and hazy the entire time I was there – you could never see blue, or clearly see the sun.