This morning as I was sitting in the sun-room reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love” (and thank you to all those who recommended that to me) and her ruminations about the nature of pleasure, I realized that in that very moment that I was sitting in a big ol’ pool of pleasure myself. There is nothing so soothing as the feeling of the sun on my face. At first the pleasure is only skin deep, but as I continue to sit with it, it goes deeper to melt away all the worries and compulsive thoughts that plague my waking consciousness. And soon consciousness itself starts to burn away as I fall into a sun-induced nap.
Growing up in Southern California, most of the summer months were spent laying out in the sun and working on my tan. And it was work! Really, it was. A lot of strategy went into getting that tan. Even though I tanned easily, there was still competitive pressure to have the darkest tan. At the time (back in the 70’s) tanning lotions advertised not their SPF and protective qualities, but rather their ability to get you a deep dark tan. After trying many different lotions, I believe Ban du Soleil was the lotion of choice, but it was expensive. I usually just stuck with my old stand-by Johnson’s Baby Oil (I think we even experimented briefly with vegetable oil, but that just felt nasty). Even though I never got quite as dark as my friend Mary (she was cheating though; she claimed to have some Native American blood in her, so her skin started out darker than my German/Irish skin), it didn’t matter when we were laying there in the sun with nary a thought in our cute little teenage minds. When the tipping point was reached and the pleasure was becoming pain, we simply jumped into her pool to cool down a bit and talk about boys. And then we’d reapply our oil or lotion and start all over again. After the sun had moved away, we’d check our tan lines to assess our progress and then plan our evening to go out and show off our hard work.
Of course, that was all before people talked about the link between skin cancer and the sun. I feel bad for kids growing up now fearing the sun what with their parents slathering them with SPF 1000 lotion and protective clothing before they step foot outside. And sure, maybe as adults they have less sun spots on their skin, less wrinkles and perhaps less worries about the odd mole and such. But still, nothing beats the pleasure of basking mindlessly in the sun.