There is just something about that afternoon sun.
I am drawn to the sun like the Energizer bunny is drawn to that battery of his. I am absolutely happier when the sun is out, and I am more productive when the days (as measured by dawn to dusk) are longer. It is easier for me to get up and get going when the sun has already risen, and I tend to think more optimistically when the sun is shining brightly.
All of this begs the question of why in the world I live in Chicago, but that is a topic for another day. For now, let’s just say that living in an area that experiences way more than its share of clouds and cold makes me appreciate the sun even more when I can get it, especially when I go on vacation to find it.
As much as I love the sun, the afternoon sun, which I define as the sun between 4:00 and 6:00 is my favorite. Having just returned from a sunny vacation, during which I had plenty of time to think about the afternoon sun and to contemplate its wonderous effect on me, I thought I would share a few of my observations in the hopes they might resonate with you and inspire you to seek out your own sunny time.
While there are many qualities of afternoon sun and many ways that I have found to enjoy that time, I can summarize those qualities and source of enjoyment in three words;
Warmth, Reflection, and Opportunity.
My guess is that if I posed the question of whether you prefer the heat or the cold, the answers would be pretty evenly split, but the concept of warmth unites us all. Warmth is that center of the thermometer that everybody can agree on. Whether you gravitate toward the heat of a summer day or you like the cold crisp air of winter, you seek warmth as your comfort zone. I have never met anybody who prefers to be subject to blazing heat or freezing cold twenty-four hours a day!
I have been fortunate to experience afternoon sun in many places and climates and when it comes time for that sun to tilt toward its final descent on the horizon for the day, the warmth it generates is my definition of perfection. On what has been a hot day, the less pleasant elements such as humidity and the fiery mid-day burn subside and are replaced by a temperate glow. On a cold day when it takes a little longer for the sun to reach its full potential, the afternoon sum often creates the warmest time of the day and eases the harshness of a greyer, less inviting sky.
I have also found that the afternoon sun creates the best time to reflect on the day. I think this is so because enough of the day has transpired for me to have a good idea of what has been or will be accomplished, but there is still enough time to influence that direction one way or the other before the day ends completely. In fact, although I am inside right now, I am enjoying a view of some afternoon sun as I write this article and reflect on these observations and where they are headed.
A feeling of warmth and a moment of reflection always lead me to contemplate my next opportunity. I always say that you can’t possibly know where you are going without first understanding where you are and where you have been. The afternoon sun amplifies my appreciation for the day and what I have experienced and, at the same time, whets my appetite for the opportunity presented by the remainder of the day. Sometimes, the opportunity is a nice dinner or a card game with my family. On other occasions, it might be an event that I have looked forward to for a long time. The opportunity may be as simple as a chance to write a few thoughts down. However small or insignificant the opportunity may be, there is still an opportunity to consider during that afternoon sun.
I find warmth, reflection, and opportunity in my afternoon sun and I have defined that as my favorite time in a lifelong appreciation and pursuit of the sun. My ability to understand and savor these moments brings me joy and a feeling that I have gotten the most out of a day. Whether or not the afternoon sun means the same thing to you is irrelevant as long as you seek and appreciate your equivalent on a regular basis.
Does the warmth that I describe in my afternoon sun define a feeling of comfort and respite for you? Your warmth may just be your peace of mind or the perfect balance of your emotions.
Do you make it a point to reflect each day? Do you take time to soak up and celebrate something that has gone well? Do you give thought to things that didn’t go according to plan and figure out how you will do things differently the next time?
Do you see opportunity around the corner? Do you spend a few minutes figuring out where you are at in the day and then set a course for capitalizing on that moment before that day ends?
Any day in which you experience warmth, reflection, and opportunity is a great day! If you have found that time or place to regularly enjoy these things, hold on to it and appreciate it fully. If you have not, seek it out and don’t stop until you’ve identified it.
One last thing about the significance of that afternoon sun and I think about it every time I have the pleasure of enjoying that time with a clear and unobstructed view of the sky. Eventually, that same sun is going to set on the horizon in front of me and rise on the horizon behind me again tomorrow. My job is to get the most out of the day in between!
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.