Simple pleasures (part 1)


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.


8 responses »

  1. At last – something we don’t have in common. I grew up in sunny South Africa and now live in even sunnier Australia. Nonetheless, I hate the sun. I used to visit Europe in December to get away from summer in Johannesburg. My Swedish skin tans quite well, but I much prefer colder weather.

  2. I too was from SoCal, but grew up in Phoenix. I do like the way the sun feels and can’t do without it. I absolutely loved living back East and the Midwest, but the winters were a little hard sometimes.

    However, I didn’t lay out in the sun when I grew up. I was outside a lot in the summer, but usually in the higher (and cooler) altitudes of Flagstaff, Prescott, and SW Colorado. Interesting how you burn more easily there, though!

    Well, I’ve officially stopped lurking! 😀
    I really enjoy your blog and what you’re saying. Sounds we’re stumbling (and in my case, falling flat on my face) down a similar path. I’m going to post some musings in a little while about my plan to go (physically and spiritually) to Dharamsala. I’m not there yet… but I’m working on it.

  3. I grew up in the South, but could NEVER tan, just ‘freck’ a bit (even when I lived those few years a few degrees above the equator). I can remember the ‘myth’ of mixing baby oil and iodine as a tanning medium, but when it got right down to it, I just hated being hot and sweaty! I envied the girls who could and did tan. My daughter calls us the “pasty white chicks”. However, I haven’t the wrinkles that most of my high school class now sport (the few times I’ve seen members thereof), and that gives me a bit of smug satisfaction. Although I never thought I’d “be” this age to finally reap the harvest of my youthful inability!

  4. Ron – Well, there goes our separated at birth theory. I’m not a big fan of heat myself. I don’t like hot weather. In fact, I much prefer the cooler, foggier summers of San Francisco. What I do enjoy is the occasional bask in the sun. After I am done basking, let the fog come and keep things cool.

    NM – Welcome! I’m quite enjoying your blog too. In addition to stumbling along the same path, we’re also stumbling over cats. Yes, please do let us know about your impending trip to Dharmasala. One of these days I’m getting my ass (and I might as well haul along the rest of me) to India.

    Shu – Oh yeah! I remember baby oil and iodine too. My mom would never let me have the iodine, so I just stuck with the baby oil.I still love the way it smells! The hot and sweaty is nasty, so that is why most of the time I did my serious tanning near a pool. Being Southern California, many of my friends had one, or I hung out at the pool where my father worked.

  5. I love the sun, even though I’m pale and don’t tan easily – but I hate the heat and I sweat easily so its gotta be sun combined with the sea to cool off.

    And I confess to be gratified now that I’m living in Australia, that people regularly guess my age as at least 5-8 years younger than the reality, based on my wrinkle free skin 🙂

    I still envy girls with a deep even tan though…

  6. There are all these things I used to be able to do that I’m not supposed to do any more. Like eat real cheese or red meat (anything high in cholesterol). Go out and drink beer all night and chase girls, for different reasons. (My recovery time is slower and Mrs. Ombud, respectively.)

    And giving up lolling in the sun is one of the hardest. Okay, um, between girls, beer, sun …

    this is beginning to feel like a Monty Python skit, where if I answer the question wrong I get flung into the ravine …

    But I do miss the sun. I was at Oakland’s baseball stadium this weekend, and had to cover up where, in the past, I’d have sprawled and enjoyed the warmth on my skin.

  7. I love the warm sun but I really hate the heat.

    PS: I want to share information with you that we have project to recovery forest in Indonesia, so i hope you would visit our site and support us.


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