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Post details: The Polar Sun

The Polar Sun

I don't think I could live in arctic regions where a day lasts for half a year. Continuous daylight is uncanny. I need night too. Darkness. A reprieve from visual bombardment. Plus there is something sinister about the Polar Sun. The way it skims the land in the distance, never really able to soar and thaw the icebergs. The way it circles the outskirts of the heavens like a wheezing zombie. Eternal chill is too much to pay for an everlasting day. But the three-dimensional geometry of our solar system is implacable. If you want the Sun to speak up, you also have to let it sink deep beneath the horizon. And that's not gonna happen near the Pole.

When I was growing up in communism, everything was forcefully peachy. The bright outlook for the economy's five year plan, the joyful looks on the faces of the working classes celebrating May the 1st, the jubilant voices of the country's poets. But all that optimism was like the Polar Sun. Incessantly shining, yet thermally impotent. Even as a kid I knew that some things in life were good and some were bad and I never really understood what was the purpose of all the whitewashing. Ironically, those empty cheers became communism's demise, for the rendering of reality and the reality itself grew so far apart, that the whole system became completely hollow and one day simply imploded. It died from the lack of negative feedback.

And it works on an individual level too. I once had a colleague who would never ever say anything negative about our projects. Yet after some time all his words of support and encouragement became as irrelevant as the polar sunshine, for they were never contrasted by anything negative. On the other hand, when one of my professors of physics who hardly ever complimented students said that my solution was "pretty good", it really meant something. So I often wonder: when did we become such wussies that we cannot take a bit of criticism when things don't turn out well? The criticism that would give praise some substance.

I mean we all have some talents and we all have some shortcomings. So why do we have to put a massive positive spin on every single aspect of our lives? Are we trying to dig into a parallel universe, where everyone extols Mein Kampf for its interesting grammar and atomic bomb is widely admired for its cute shape, second only to the Coca-Cola bottle? How about a little dose of sincerity instead? For instance I cannot sing. I mean technically I can, but to the outside world my vocals are enjoyable only with a pitcher of morphine. Yet if it wasn't for some good friends who told me so, I might have been making a fool of myself on the American Idol. For I thought I sang pretty well. Now thanks to their help, I can devote my time to activities in which I am actually good, or at least non-atrocious.

One more thing: sometimes I meet people who claim they are happy all the time. I don't buy that. Not even with a stolen credit card. If you are happy all the time, then your mood is like the Polar Sun. Creeping along the horizon, keeping its head just barely above water. By a mere inch. And that is a bit too shallow for my taste. I don't think you can experience that exalting joy which rips through your soul like a fuming tornado if you are unwilling, from time to time, to wade through the quagmire of crushing sorrow.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that upbeat mentality should have the upper hand. But "everything with moderation" my grandma used to say. I think we should just be realistic with a positive bias. No reason to push it to the extremes, because people who are constantly positive and constantly happy are the Polar Suns. They do shine all the time, but their rays do not carry any warmth.



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