Ask “ What is your favorite day of the year?” and you may expect to hear Christmas, Thanksgiving, my child’s birthday or my anniversary, but for me it’s Summer Solstice — the day that the sun shines longer than on any other day of the year. To me the sun has always represented promise — the promise that things will grow and that life will go on, even during our deepest pain or hardest struggles. So on the day that to most symbolizes the official beginning of summer, I look to the sky and see the promise of bigger and better things to come.
My love affair with the long, sun-filled day of the Summer Solstice began far before I began working at Antenna Group with companies that harness the power of the sun to provide energy. But now that I am here it seems like a natural fit for my soul, and for me. After all, the sun provides me with strength, so of course it should power my world as well.
In my quest to enjoy the longest possible Solstice day, I once spent it in Alaska, where I found myself rafting in
Class 5 rapids at 10:30 p.m. with hours of light still to enjoy. While the trip was marked with amazing
adventures, including kayaking in Prince William Sound and rappelling into a crevasse of the Matanuska Glacier, one aspect of this experience impacts my thoughts and my work every day. This is the fact that there I found people so committed to conserving resources and caring for the earth that this desire shaped nearly everything in their lives.
The owner of the tour company that I traveled with, Exposure Alaska, lives completely off the grid. His home has no indoor plumbing; rather, his family uses an outhouse — all of the time. (This may be farther than I am willing to go). He has a solar powered hot tub in his yard (I can get down with that) and a vegetable garden to eat from (works for me). The tour group spent nearly our entire week living this same way: we camped in tents, used the “facilities” wherever we could find a little privacy, cooked on campfires and even enjoyed a cheesecake that our guide made by chilling it in a glacial runoff stream. Who knew you could do that?
Would it have been easier to head back to a comfortable hotel room and take a long, hot shower after an exhausting day of hiking, kayaking, etc? Of course it would have. But the experience not only helped the members of the tour group bond with each other, it also bonded us with the earth. Perhaps more importantly, it taught us how much we can live without and, for some of us, how dependent we have become on amenities that may make our life easier at the moment but don’t help our spirits soar or our earth thrive.
Does taking the car for a short trip to the store save time? Yes. But would the walk have made your lungs take in fresh air, forced your blood to pump and perhaps given you the opportunity to see a beautiful sunset that you may have missed while focused on making it through a yellow light before it turned red? Probably.
So on this, the longest day of the year, I encourage you to feel the power of the sun and let it energize you. While it is likely that I’ll still need my Starbucks for an extra midday boost, I just may walk to get it. How will you celebrate the Solstice?
– Laura Finlayson is not a ninja, guru or maven; she is just a seasoned PR pro with expertise in social media program development and execution. When she is not working you might find her doing extreme sports like climbing glaciers, hiking in the desert in extreme heat, rappelling off 200+ foot cliffs, or simply chilling in the Bronx watching her beloved NY Yankees. Follow Laura on Twitter @lauramfin.