Most of us probably don’t care that today is the Summer Solstice. In the workaday world it’s just another day and as long as the work day isn’t longer than usual, we couldn’t care less about the 12 hours of sunlight and 12 of darkness. In recent years, however, there has been an upsurge in events that mark this day as a special one. It was once a vital day to humans and every ancient culture had a vested interested in gauging the date accurately. There is actually a window of time during which Solstice can occur and for summer Solstice that is as early 20 June and as late as 22 June. Agricultural societies in particular were cognizant of the importance of planting in accordance with the calendar of celestial events and the fact that even in our scientific era we plant our gardens with reference to the availability of sunlight and warmth reminds us that we are dependent on Nature’s cycles for our sustenance. After all, we cannot eat cyber data…
The past three decades have witnessed an almost frantic desire amongst a portion of the population of mainly northern countries to revive many pagan (or imagined pagan) festivals and practices. These often fanciful gatherings can nevertheless have a practical and beneficial effect on the modern (or post-modern, if you insist!) psyche. We are so inured to nature in all but its most devastating manifestations that the pagan revival of seasonal observances can serve to re-connect us to the rhythms of planetary life. It’s difficult to feel the earth’s “pulse” through acres of concrete or listen to the wind where there are no trees. Window box gardens may be the closest many of us get to a ‘garden’ and that is our loss. We were not designed for life in a concrete jungle; our sensory mechanisms can be seriously affected by an enveloping electronic environment. It will probably be decades – if humans last that long – before the real damage on the human nervous system caused by being ‘hooked up’ and ‘plugged in’ for most of every day are known. At a minimum, we already have evidence of the reduced capacity to deal with frustration when things don’t happen instantaneously. Cyber life sets up expectations that the natural and human environment cannot fulfill. Things like growing a plant or training a dog or just cooking a good meal take TIME and the enjoyment isn’t just in the result, it’s in the process. Time, Process, and Participation are necessary to human life no matter how fast our micro-processors can work. We still live in a world where time rules and when we crowd our lives with more and more activity that involves machines rather than life forms, time seems to contract to the point where there is never enough of it and we constantly find ourselves ‘running behind’. We can however experience the phenomenon of time expanding if we want to. We have the perfect opportunity this week. From today (21 June 2012) until the 24th, we get a reprieve from ceaseless movement. If even the Sun can still for a while, we should be able to! The Sun’s perceived location changes by such a small degree that it is almost imperceptible to us. We have the luxury of time seeming to stand still. Hey, don’t knock it: in a virtual world, “seeming” is all there is anyway, so why not enjoy the physical and psychological equivalent in the wonder of the Sun standing still for a few days? Time can imprison us but it can also free us; it’s our choice.
The Clock Is A Tool; Don’t Make It A Tyrant
Slow down. If you’re caught in traffic, you just are: you can’t will it away. If you’re ‘running late’, you just are. Don’t risk your life or someone else’s trying to ‘beat the clock’. What is, simply IS, and most of What Is is beyond our ability to control. When you are in a tight position, stop and BREATHE. Do it really slowly and see what a difference it makes. Just for a change, when you get home don’t turn on any electronic equipment. Turn off the cellphone and, if you like, leave a message to potential callers that your ‘system is currently being updated’ – those are magic words in cyberspace and they buy you time to focus on something other than, well, others.
Take Time For Fantasy
Most of all, make time for some magic of your own. Leave the hooked-up, plugged-in world and enter another for a few hours. Woody Allen’s “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” is a contemporary twist on Shakespeare’s delightful “Midsummer Night’s Dream” which is also available in a very light and funny version starring Stanley Tucci, Michelle Pfeiffer, Callista Flockhart, and Kevin Kline as an hilarious “Bottom”. This version is so visually appealing and lightly directed that even kids love it.
If reading is more relaxing for you, pick up a good fantasy novel or a comedic novel, something that takes you into a different world of possibilities. You might want to try Raymond Feist’s Faery Tale for an adult view of the ‘other world’. As one of the best writers in the adult Fantasy Genre, Feist has created an alternative reality guaranteed to whisk you out of the humdrum and into a space where nothing is impossible even for grown-ups! Whatever you decide to do, don’t let another Solstice pass un-celebrated.
Woody Allen’s Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy and Midsummer Night’s Dream can be purchased or rented from Amazon HERE.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons.
© Delia O’Riordan 2012