The Problem with Sunshine
A friend of mine is back on the East Coast and mentioned that there were thunderstorms so she wasn’t able to really do much. This kind of got me thinking about the problem with sunshine.
I grew up on the East Coast. It rained, it snowed, it was humid and hot, and freezing. The weather, to a very large degree, controlled us. It was never easy to plan anything outside. Picnics turned into standing under trees hoping not to get struck by lighting. Outdoor weddings were risky and often ended with all guests running for shelter.
I grew up thinking that the great outdoors was precarious and had other ideas, it couldn’t be counted upon. But then I moved to Southern California. And my whole world changed. It is sunny here and lovely, most of the time. You can plan an outdoor event and be almost 100% sure that it will come off without a weather interruption or disaster.
Fourteen years ago when I moved out here it was heaven. I called it the absence of weather. The temperature went up and down in a very controlled range, but the sun shined, especially in Ojai. Saved for the most part from the May gray and the June gloom that plagues the West Coast in Spring.
And I thrived. I loved the constant, unrelenting sunshine. I was a being in motion and the sun fueled that to a great degree. I am a solar powered, no doubt about it.
But as I have been here for a longish time now, I can see that there are problems with sunshine, or perhaps more accurately problems with me related to sunshine. I am aging and with that comes a need and desire to slow the fuck down. And I can’t, it turns out, do that if it is sunny outside. Oh, give me a gloomy, rainy day and I can lie around all the damn day. But if the sun pokes through the clouds, I am instantly energized and in motion. Even if I don’t want to be...
So as I age and slow down, I need the permission of the weather. I need cloud cover to hide my lack of activity. I need overcast days to give me permission to do less, work less and be lazy. I crave the down now.
So I have come to view the Southern California sunshine as somewhat of an issue. Like it has created an arrogance in all of us, we just expect good weather all the time, because we really get it all the time. And I think it has created and supported an idea that I somehow deserve things that I do not in fact deserve. Great weather being one of them.
When I was a kid and it rained when I had a fun outdoor day planned, I resented it. I mean, really, I was pissed at the universe for ruining my good time. Living here in sunny CA has fixed that for me, as now I can plan pretty much anything and have it come off without a hitch. And that has created a sense of entitlement in me. I know, sounds ridiculous, but I think it really has. Like my life should continue to go really well because I expect it to and the constant good weather kind of is a backdrop for my sense that my life is expected to be great.
So that for me is the problem with sunshine. It becomes an entitlement. And I do realize that the actual problem is not with sunshine, it is in my seemingly innate ability to take something that I once so treasured and create a sense of entitlement to it so that if there is bad weather, I take it personally, like the rain or clouds are here to piss me off. I know, I have issues.
Sometimes I feel like living here, living this life, I have it too good. I mean I do have a really great life. And the fact that I do not have to battle weather of really any kind, makes it even more wonderful. But I guess what I am really trying to say here, is that I kind of miss the struggle inclement weather provided. It is as if the foul weather provided me some gateway into a feeling, like the changing weather supported all the change in my life. Weather was unpredictable, life is unpredictable. When you live somewhere where the weather is fucking amazing all the time, you come to see life as being that way too. And life is not always amazing. Life is sometimes hard and challenging and painful.
I know that I am nuts. I know that this is probably going to be read and maybe no one else will relate to the weather providing them a sense of entitlement to a better life, but it has happened for me. And I have come to depend upon the weather being there to support me with its constant sunshine. It is NOT always sunny in Philadelphia, I have been there. It isn’t. But come to Ojai, or Los Angeles, or San Diego. And it is sunny here almost every single day. And apparently I am the kind of person who can even come to resent sunshine. Wow, that kind of smarts and says a lot about me...not in a good way.
So moving to a place with weather has become kind of a fantasy for me. Rainy days where I am granted permission to lie about with a fire and read or write seems like heaven. No sunshine there to call me out on my laziness, or demand that I run around and accomplish anything at all.
I do get that it isn’t really the weather at all but my perception of the role weather plays in my life. I am super susceptible to weather, the light and the dark that are weather's closest friends. My interiority is ruled by the presence or absence of light. I am a light being that sometimes finds the light too much to bear. Really.
So the problem with sunshine is that I need less of it today than I used to. I am perhaps losing my arrogant demand to always be in a good mood and to be out there in the world doing shit. I am entering a phase of my life where the work, the real work is inside. In my heart, my head and my home. And apparently, I need the weather’s support in this new endeavor...
I won’t be going anywhere soon but I will likely spend more time in places where weather plays a more active role and is far less accommodating. Because as it turns out, I need the support of ruinous weather as much as I once needed the constant streaming light of the sun.