Sun and shade

October 8, 2021

I enjoy the sun. Not for any particular reason. I enjoy the sun just as I enjoy the clouds, the rain and the snow. They are in the nature. I enjoy them as they are.

I have many friends who place the sunlight on a pedestal. They value the sun much more than many other natural elements. They have a much more favourable view of the sunlight than the rain, for instance. This is in part because they have grown up in parts of the world where sunlight and the warmth it offers is not prevalent throughout the year. They make the most of the opportunities they get to bask under the sunlight.

Would they feel the same if the sun was beating down, day after day, without any possibility to find shade? Many who live in hotter parts of the world, especially closer to the equator experience the sun in this way. Many others, even those further away from the equator, have tasted days when the heat was too much to bear.

The sun can also be used as a metaphor as in the film A Sun (2019). The elder son, Hao, of A-Wen is brilliant. He is the sun of the family. His parents are proud of him. His brother hates him for being brilliant. He is shy, helpful and caring. People around him know that he is thoughtful. But, they have no idea what he is thinking.

He hardly puts a foot wrong. He is garnered with praises at almost all times. But, how does he feel? Does he bask in the sunlight of praises? Does he expect to be praised regularly? Is he afraid of making mistakes? His family and friends do not know the answers to these questions. Not until, they read his last message before he jumped off a building.

Hao was exposed to so much sun that he felt as if he was being burnt. Unlike many humans and non-human animals, he felt he “had no water tanks and no hiding places, but only sunlight1.” He was exposed to the uninterrupted supply of sunlight. He was not seeking a place to get tanned. The sun was hunting him down and burning him.

Even the sun or praise in the extreme case can suffocate people. Having the space to escape them, to find shadow can be essential to find breathing room 2. Surely, we can do better for the people we praise and care for.

  1. Hao’s last message in A Sun (2019)↩︎

  2. One of the strategies in negotiations, such as a trade agreement, is to keep an escape route available for the other person so that a positive-sum outcome can be achieved for all. Leaving an escape route open goes back to at least Sun Tzu’s strategy “in order to capture, one must let loose” in The Art of War. Sun Tzu’s strategy was to fool the opponent into believing that there is an escape path when there is none. In the case of negotiations where we want to find a mutual agreement, we are more interested in a positive-sum rather than trapping the other person.↩︎