Are you a sunshine kind of person?

It was Sunday. Our third day in Juneau, my dad, my mom and myself were driving in our rental car around North Douglas. We’d arrived in Juneau on Friday afternoon, none of us had stepped foot in Alaska before that date. Now, I was moving up here to live; my parents would leave the next day, after dropping me off at the dorm.

During our Weekend in Juneau, we’d done as much driving as we could. North to the end of the road, and south too, east to the glacier and now we were doing Douglas. In a couple miles, we’d have driven on all the roads Juneau had to offer.

It had been cloudy with drizzle the entire weekend. This was what we’d expected from Juneau – we were nothing if not well researched travelers. But we’re Southern Californian, it took a couple years for us to see this much cloud coverage.

The ocean was on one side of the road, a cliff traced with tiny waterfalls on the other. And then the sun broke through the clouds, and all the beauty nature had to offer was suddenly illuminated in gold.

We all marveled for a second, but my parents marveled a second longer than I did. “It’s a nice place,” my dad commented. “But the sun just makes it about perfect.”

I said nothing. I wanted the sun to go away. I’d seen it for 18 years of my life and I was ready for a new view. If there was one dominate feature I’d moved to Juneau for, it was the clouds, the rain, the mist. I’d felt parched – and now, even the air I breathed was wet. It was perfect.

In “A Place For Stories”, William Cronon talks about the field of environmental history and most importantly the role of the narrative in that field. He compares different histories of the Great Plains, showing how the assumptions we make about nature make a huge different in how the stories turn out. Is nature a paradise? Or a wasteland? Plentiful and fruitful? Or needing human hands to harvest it?

And all nature is seen through human eyes. Cronon points out that not only are humans the actors in the environmental story, but they’re the ones that give it value.

My father likes the sun. He likes clear skies, warm days and bright light. While he enjoyed visiting Juneau, that one moment of sunshine was what made the trip for him. He likes the sun, so Juneau on a whole was a disappointment to him.

Me, on the other hand, I’ll let him keep his sun. Give me and overcast sky and some huge raindrops and I’ll be happy. That’s why I’m still here.

Cronon points out that how we view nature will reflect in the point we get out of an environmental narrative. Is human intervention an improvement? Or a degradation? Is sun good or bad?

But without me and my family, that would have just been a random break in the clouds – undocumented and unimportant. Without humans, there isn’t a narrative of nature.


One Response to “Are you a sunshine kind of person?”

  1. “Cronon points out that how we view nature will reflect in the point we get out of an environmental narrative” (rcspray)
    I would like to add about perspective and context.

    I recall a quote that goes something like the following:
    ‘All the answers to the universe already exist, it’s up to us to find them.’
    From this expression brings to me an inspiration.
    The untapped knowledge and answers are in constant existence among us. Knowledge, wrapping around our skin as our essence a ruder steering us amid the experiential and speculative that time brings forth. Answers, breathing in and out of our existence:some known and knowing to us, others in ignorance. A rudders wake leaving behind a teaching unto another, or possibly an offense.

    How well we relate to an expression of a person place thing or idea depends upon our own personal identification or concept with that person place thing or idea. We can not fully feel and know the “wet” of our existence if we haven’t felt the harsh and dry of the sun. We can not know the light, if we have never experienced the dark. The light only becomes an acceptable stark presence after a period of darkness. But over time, we get used to the light that was once blinding and become desensitized to it’s presence for better and for worse. Ironically; metaphorically and literally speaking, staring into the light long enough will make us blind to it. (And so the cycle continues) I guess my point is, i feel life can only be properly or fully understandable through as much experience as possible. Through this experience can we generate different views and develop various contextual perspectives on life about our very nature inside and out. Is our nature a “paradise? Or a wasteland? Plentiful and fruitful?” I believe they are all these things. For the mind and eyes that created this perspective made it so and will forever be imprinted on those who influence and create the next layer of perspective thought and reality for others to ponder. In a literary context on the nature of “things” can we share and learn and come to a better understanding!? And so the cycle continues.

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