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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Does this make you think of a U2 song?

I like looking at the sun. I know, I know, you're not supposed to look at it -- it'll hurt your eyes, or something. (Who am I kidding? Of course I know it can hurt your eyes. In fact, I even have a basic understanding of exactly how it can hurt your eyes.) Regardless of what everyone's mother warns them, I do like looking at the sun. I can't help it. It's neat. It's cool. (Well, actually, it's the exact opposite of cool, but you know what I mean.) It's beautiful.

They Might Be Giants
sing about how "The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas". Countless poets have come up with more, uh, poetic descriptions of the great glowing orb that lights our world and is the source of all life. Granted, it's not love, but I'd guess that the sun is up there in the top ten most poeticized things in the history of poetry. No matter how you look at it, the sun's a big deal.

Speaking of looking at it, like I said, that's what I like to do. I remember being a kid, on hot summer days, standing in a field or drifting in a canoe out on the lake. I can call to mind crisp winter days, where the air is so clear and the sky is so blue you feel you could evaporate happily into its emptiness, and it's so cold you can sniff your nostrils together and they'll stick. There are innumerable bright, sunny days in my memories of youth, and plenty of them centre on a view of the sun.

My head's tilted up, hands loose at my sides, and my eyes find their way to the spot in the sky so bright it pokes at my brain through the sockets. I have to widen my eyes, deliberately, to fight back the urge to squint. I know as I'm looking that I shouldn't be doing it, everyone has told me not to, but it's there, and it's amazing, and I know instinctively that it'll only really hurt me if I stare too long.

So after a brief period that seems to last for much, much longer, I look away, blinking to catch the phosphorescent after-image, and watch it flicker against the real world around me. Or sometimes, I'd just close my eyes, still facing the sky, and bathe in the warmth, feeling it flow over the skin of my cheeks and brow.

I knew, even back then, that there should be a chance of causing damage down the road, of weakening my eyesight in some way. Yet that knowledge was superseded by a surety, both instinctive and reasoned, that nothing bad would come of it, that, in fact, it might just make me stronger. So far, I haven't been disappointed. I've always had better than 20/20 vision, my tolerance for bright lights is stronger than most, and my capacity for low-light sight has amazed those around me.

Maybe I've been right all along, and looking at the sun was actually good for me. Or maybe I've just been lucky, and ate a lot of carrots.

Either way, I still like looking at the sun.



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