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Summer Solstice: Confronting the Ether of Relentless Time

June 23rd, 2018 by Michael Dyet

Summer solstice

Hmmm, what motivation should we draw from the longest day of year?

This past Thursday marked the Summer Solstice of 2018. I have not paid much attention over the years to the milestone days of Summer and Winter Solstice. But as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I find myself contemplating the significance of them.

First, a look at the scientific basis for these dates. Following winter solstice in late December, the Northern Hemisphere begins to get more sunlight as the earth’s axis starts tilting more toward the sun. Summer solstice occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun. The result is the day of the year with the most hours of sunlight.

Around the world, people celebrate Summer Solstice with a variety of rituals often involving bonfires. For example:

In Russia and Ukraine, teenagers and young adults jump over bonfires while holding hands with a potential suitor as a courtship ritual. Scandinavians refer to the day as Midsummer and observe rituals involving bonfires, fertility and folk dancing.

In Latvia, people head to the countryside, start a bonfire and stay up all night waiting for the sun to come up. Women pick flowers to make into crowns for their head. Men strip naked and jump into a nearby lake or river.

I am not inclined to anything as theatrical as these rituals. But I do find symbolism in the fact that the days following Summer Solstice becoming progressively shorter in terms of hours of sunlight – culminating in the shortest day of the year on Winter Solstice.

At the age of 60, I am acutely aware that there are more years behind me than ahead of me. In symbolic terms, I am somewhere between the Summer and Winter Solstice of my life.

Part of me thinks that I should squeeze as much living as possible into every day that remains. But a dissenting voice argues that I should slow down and focus not on how much I accomplish, but rather on the peace that comes from opting out of the race to the wire.

Health issues in the last year stole a few months from my life. I cannot get those days back. The question looms: Make up for lost time or stop being a slave to the notion of time?

Wisdom gained over 60 years counsels me that quality matters more than quantity. But it is difficult to live into that wisdom. The breakneck pace of life in these times argues that if you are not moving ahead, you are very rapidly falling behind.

But I am beginning to believe that falling behind is not necessarily a bad thing. Lingering to enjoy the simple moments while the rest of society rushes forward to the next big thing, may just be the secret to happiness. Going against the flow takes a conscious effort. But the investment in doing so pays dividends far beyond climbing the next hill.

And so, I chose to see Summer Solstice as a metaphor for the importance of ignoring the ticking of the clock and savouring each moment before it escapes into the ether of relentless time.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com or the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.

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