Shorter Days · 3 July 2021

And now, the days get shorter.

The summer solstice has passed (it is in the past), which means that the days are getting shorter. And shorter and shorter. So short, in fact, that by the time we hit the winter solstice, there is practically no day left. At least here in the Pacific Northwest.

(By the way, have you ever noticed that sometimes you get confused about words more after you read their definitions? Me neither. But the words that sometimes confused me in the past are “passed” and “past.” Sure, we passed the time in the past, but that is a simple use of the two words. And you might have passed up the opportunity in the past, but now you want it back. Anyway. If you ever get confused by words that sound the same but have different meanings, you are not alone. Lots of people use the wrong words at the wrong times. And some people put parenthetical thoughts where they do not belong either.)

Where was I? Oh yes. The past having passed.

This year’s summer solstice has passed and now the days are getting shorter. I know. The closer to the equator, the less pronounced the effect is and the farther from the equator, the more pronounced the effect is. Still, having lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, I have come to both love and hate the effects of the solstices.

It is funny really. We tend to anticipate the longest day of the year. We know that the sunshine is lasting longer as spring turns into summer. Or in our case, the light behind the clouds tends to last longer as spring rains turn into summer showers.

Then it happens. The summer solstice comes and goes, and it is time to get ready for winter again. Okay. It is not quite that quick, but it is interesting that we get all excited about the longest day of the year and then it is over. Just like that.

It would be really nice if we could have a week or two of the longest day of the year. Sunshine for fifteen or sixteen hours a day for a couple weeks would be nice. We could rise and set with the sun. We could enjoy the long beautiful solstice days.

Of course, that would mean winter solstice would last a couple weeks too. That would be dreadful. Four hours of sunshine a day. (Okay that is an exaggeration. Four hours of rain a day.) That would be miserable. Horrible. Torturous. So I guess having just two days of solstices a year is a good thing.

Still. I cannot help but think that the summer solstice is a bittersweet day. Yes, it is the longest day of the year, but its coming means that the days are getting shorter. Those days of anticipation when the sun is shining longer are coming to a close. They are in the past. Now, we just have shorter days. And they will keep getting shorter for another six months.

Of course, it is not a good thing to dread the future. Just like it is a terrible thing to dwell on the past. After all, the past has passed. And the future is yet to come. So we ought to relish each moment as it arrives. We need to be present in the present. After all, the present is a present. A gift wrapped in sunshine. Or rain. Or snow. Or… Well, you get the picture. The present is a wonderful present and we need to be present to fully enjoy it.

Yes, the summer solstice has passed for this year. The days are indeed getting shorter. But that is okay. For whether the weather is sunny or cloudy, or whether the days are getting shorter or longer, does not really matter. What really matters is that we are present in the present.

So embrace today while it is called today. Even if today is shorter than yesterday.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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