When I was in Malaysia, several people asked me a question that went something like this:
"Why do you Westerners lie out in the sun? We find sunbathing to be so uncomfortably hot and don't understand why anyone would choose to torture themselves like that."And I often found myself tongue-tied when trying to respond.
Because how can words describe the way that the cold settles into your bones over the long, grey, cold months of the year?
How to explain the feelings of anticipation and excitement that build when the first warm days of summer sunshine arrive?
I didn't know how to get across the sense of healing and wholeness I feel when I am finally lying out in that dazzling light, and I feel it slowly baking into me, driving warmth all the way into the center of my chronically chilled body. It's like being reborn.
And by the way, how could I unpack the idea to the people of the tropics that the relentless, beating heat of their equatorial sun is vastly more overpowering than the gentle warmth of our shy little Pacific Northwest sun?
I couldn't. I didn't know how to respond. So I just smiled and said, Yeah, sunbathing is weird, isn't it.
But honestly, I don't think it's weird at all.