This past weekend I rose to an already beaming sun, shining through the headlands and over the north edge of Sydney Harbour. It was muted somehow by the morning mist, but relentless in its warm intensity against my legs while I sat under my desk, facing the window.
The sun was always a beacon to me, a sign of universal humanity and Mother Nature's energy source. It was a friend I longed for in winter and craved in bulk during summer. Long days at the beach, from dawn til dusk while camping or hanging out with the soccer team, were long accompanied by this yellow personality, nearly always there for us.
I'd lie in the hammock out back as well, or on beach towels in the grass reminiscent of summer days, and pray that her friendly rays would hang out with me- enough to make me cool. I associated being tan with looking skinny, feeling "hot," standing out in tennis whites or my summer break short-shorts.
Later, I indulged and upgraded from the occasional spray tan to UV beds in the University Village. I liked the solitude, the meditative nature of these beauty caves and I'd sit for six minutes, soon lying for seven or eight. Wasn't I knowingly frying my skin? I most definitely was, but I thought I could get away with it.
I was invincible -- basking in the seasonal glow of sunshine and warmth and the positive hormones that permeate our bodies when sparked by Vitamin D. I had magical day after day in that sunshine, teenage romance pulsing through my sun-kissed limbs as a fifteen year old picnicking with Adam, my first boyfriend, at that park behind Amgen in NP. Later, I'd lie in the grass outside Golden Gate Park or at Dolores in SF, twisting daisies into flower crowns. Was that my mid-twenties or was that at Manzanita? Either way, her loyal beams of light made my skin glow, lit up our selfies, made us brave and led Matt-something to roll over in that grass a la Pocahontas and kiss me like we were in a romantic comedy. Wasn't it the sun to blame then?
When else was the sun at my side and looking over me?
The first time I circumvented the globe, I looked up at a Sydney sky and realized that the sun was the same, unanimously known and loved whatever side of the Earth we found ourselves on. Later that summer, I found myself in London watching her set on the Thames. Same girl, different day! From Paris and our warm nights, prolonged by her lingering radiance, to Roma's burning hot days dripping with melted gelato, the same emanating star was with me and I finally understood - this is why Mom always loved her. Why she symbolizes joy and radiance.
Maybe the Earth is the canvas of our sun. Everything she illuminates shines, transforms and grows.
In my third week in Europe and fifth week traveling the globe, I realized that this exact "sun" was the perfect symbol to embody how I was feeling about life and my inner workings, not to mention my calling: I wanted to light up every room I entered, like she does. I felt enlightened. I felt that on this trip, that light had been shed on my soul and on my potential, on the common nature of the world and of humankind no matter the country, city, park or streets we wandered. I doodled said "sun" on business cards and Metro maps, finally perusing a parlor in Prague where the uncannily perfect sun appeared to me.
It had six rays and six mini-sun beams, perfect to represent the six cities I'd travel through by end of summer 2009. I was still headed to Italy (five) and had a week of freedom in Madrid -- that'd make six! So I did it: Emily B (now married with a new name and still a beaming ray of sunshine from what I see in pictures) held my hand while Sabrina, mentor and early boss who ultimately changed my trajectory around the sun for the better, stood at my shoulder. She taught me that my body is my canvas. Insert my first-ever tattoo here; July 2009.
Maybe the Earth is the canvas of our Sun. Everything she illuminates shines, transforms and grows. Her energy can only be transformed, never destroyed. The fruits of transformation aren't always perfect; they're often flawed. The evidence showed in me as she traveled me around the globe on my next travels.
Maybe there are a few lessons here. Today, I glare out my window and over my balcony at the sun with mixed feelings. On April 1st, I learned that she played her part (though I did too) in a small, pre-cancerous case of melanoma in situ. A happenstance trip to the dermatologist led to a quick callback, an urgent biopsy, a sizable removal of a piece of me and twelve stitches.
Author's note: Pathology reports show that all cancer cells are completely gone. I'm high-risk but all clear.
This month, I've begun my days and approached my daily walk with a strong dose of icky, undeniable fear. My longing and prior love for that beautiful sun are now mixed with resentment - and guilt toward my own lack of boundaries. I am partly afraid and also sad that she and I will never lie together for hours on-end, no protection between us. She is dangerous in high doses. Her rays are relentless and also hurtful when over-used. She's not cruel, but in some ways toxic.
I have to remember that energy can only change, not disappear entirely. Maybe it's purely time for us to change our tune, evolve our dance... at least lessen my dosage. She's the same beautiful soul that circles our world and anchors us too. She shows up every day and models restfulness and resilience each night. She appears unconditionally and resurfaces after storms. She's the physical embodiment of love and light, God's two greatest qualities.
For now, I'll keep turning toward the light. Sun, I refuse to give up on you entirely.
Abroad Down Under
My new M.O. on walks takes sun protection and social distancing to new levels!