A sunny snapshot in time

Many inhabitants of Earth’s Northern Hemisphere are grateful for our return to the sunny side of the Solar System and the warmer weather it brings. Some are making travel plans and looking at photos of remote locations with a new enthusiasm. A moment ago, I clicked on a photo of Maui, Hawaii and sighed.

maui, hawaii

Wow! Amazing, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to go there? Flowergirl saw the photo and said, “I go to the beach there!” Like Flowergirl, I generally don’t think much beyond the beauty of a photo, but if we unpack it a bit, the photo is just one shutter-click in time. Undoubtedly it rains in Maui too. Why didn’t they share a photo of Maui when it’s raining? That’s just as valid. Is there a general disinterest in looking at rainy beaches? Perhaps the shutter-clickers think that people have enough rain where they live.

Curious, I went to Wikipedia, which stated, “Maui displays a unique and diverse set of climatic conditions.” Apparently rainshowers are common and disparately received, anywhere from 17 inches (430 mm) to 300 inches (7,600 mm) a year, with an average annual rainfall of about 70 inches (1,800 mm). Hawaii also has earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. I didn’t realize Hawaii had such crazy weather. I wonder if Hawaii would be Hawaii if we envisioned it with a complex climate, just like everywhere else. In my mind, Hawaii is sunny. Must be all of those sunny photos I see.

I lived in San Diego for several years. Although I adored the perfect weather, I know I stopped appreciating it after a few, mild winters. I even started feeling “cold” when the temperature dropped below 60°F (15.5° C). It’s only natural to forget how good one has it and acclimate to the new norm, finding new peaks and valleys to define the new reality. It’s as if part of us seeks highs and lows, and when bona fide ones don’t exist, we create them like a carousel for the mind.

If the mind seeks diversity in experience, why don’t we represent places accurately? I suppose we like to create a fantasy. Gain the envy of others. Show the sun and hide the rain. It’s true of both physical and psychological locales.

Everything is true for a moment, and part of what is shown is as important as what is not. Reality is built on biased showing and viewing, like the invention of the always-happy, always-sunny world depicted in mainstream media. We look at celebrities like we look at Hawaii.

Come closer and I will tell you a truth. I see the sun because I know the rain. Rain defines the sunshine. The happiest people you meet are the ones who have known deep sadness.

Surviving a day in Antarctica or a Winters-worth of dark and cold New England will evoke an appreciation for warm sunshine that someone who has always lived in San Diego could never appreciate.

Vincent van Gogh expressed the power of opposites to give a special brilliance in the context of complementary colors, when he penned his letter to Emile Bernard, writing “There is no blue without yellow and without orange.”

After much rainfall and snow and hurricanes, this is where I live. It’s just a shutter-click in time, and what I’m showing to you at this moment. A peak in the carousel. Sunshine found more blissful for the rain.

runningriver

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