There was a curious mixture this past week of 21st century technology and the pleasure one can only experience in a natural setting, surrounded by nature’s greenery. While I sat out in the backyard, sipping on my morning coffee, a half-dozen men set siege to the roof and commandeered our electric service in the kitchen pantry, in the process of installing an array of solar panels on the front of the house.
It’s been a curious mixture in the sense that I often spend time amongst the summer greenery in the backyard when the weather is agreeable, but most often it is a solitary and almost meditative experience of quiet contemplation, with an occasional interruption of birdsong or the rustling of the trees all around me, which is predictably pleasing in its own way.
This particular morning introduced an assortment of unfamiliar interruptions and various other forms of strangeness as a professional crew of electricians and installers intermittently initiated a barrage of grinding, drilling, and hammering sounds as they progressed through the installation process.
Most of us tend to gain an appreciation of our decisions and choices in retrospect generally, as the consequences become more apparent, but for several mornings over the past week, I watched as the drama unfolded in front of me, and it was a much more immediate visceral response that captured my attention—right as I sat there observing the process—when I realized I was no longer only an investigator or an observer of the technological revolution, but truly a participant in it, taking the deliberate step to install the state-of-the-art equipment necessary for harnessing the power of solar energy.
Ninety-three million miles away, the sun is radiating its light energy directly toward the Earth, and after some eight minutes of travel at the speed of light, that energy will now be captured by an array of solar panels on the roof, generating electric power through an astonishingly simple process, converting sunlight into electricity by “exciting electrons in silicon cells using the photons of light from the sun.”
I checked out the science of solar cells on miro.medium.com and found this fascinating explanation:
“Solar panels, also known as modules, contain photovoltaic cells made from silicon that transform incoming sunlight into electricity rather than heat.
(“Photovoltaic” means electricity from light—photo=light, voltaic=electricity.”)
As the photons of sunlight beat down upon these cells, they knock the electrons off the silicon. The negatively-charged free electrons are preferentially attracted to one side of the silicon cell, which creates an electric voltage that can be collected and channeled. This current is gathered by wiring the individual solar panels together in a series to form a solar photovoltaic array.”
The introduction of a very robust and noisy process of implementing 21st century solar science into my normally sedate and quiet morning routine brought out the philosopher in me, as I considered just how interconnected we all are by virtue of our common experiences of sunlight in one sense, but also unique in our perceptions of new experience, which can unfold before us in unexpected ways, while still containing common elements, and inform our thoughts and help us to assimilate that which is uncommon.
In a bittersweet almost melancholy moment, I took notice that the view from the ground on this day still included an over-the-rooftop view of the uppermost branches of the tree out in front of the house, which for some reason seemed to me to appear much taller than they did last summer, and it wasn’t lost on me that this would be one of the last opportunities to enjoy such a view, since the tree is slated for removal shortly. While I have been aware of the inevitability of all of these changes for some time now, actually having witnessed the predicted events as they unfolded prompted me to appreciate the gravity of the decision to go forward with them in real-time.
While contemplating these changes I was inspired to respond poetically to the “melancholy moment,” and decided to include it with this post. You can listen to my recital of the poem at this link:
8 thoughts on “Mixing Solar Energy with Summer Melancholy”
One of your best, John.
Thank you so much, Kathleen! It was inspired by my response to what felt like extraordinary circumstances during a relatively common endeavor these days. Solar technology is fascinating all on its own, but combining my melancholy mood with such a modern technology brought out my creative side.
A wonderful reading, and perfect, melancholy background music with which I was not familiar. The essence I guess is to chase the story wherever it goes. To fight a tough battle and to have won. Not an easy thing to do, the fight or the winning and in a sense of course we fight the battle anew each day. But solar energy – how right you are to put it in the poetic context. Light, if anything, must surely connect us all, is our common source our ultimate goal. Lovely post John.
Thank you for your visit and your thoughtful comment. Ironically, the music in the background is the title track performed by Philip Wesley from his album, “Dark Night of the Soul.” I chose it for the reading because of how it seemed to complement the melancholy theme, but it could also just as easily apply in the context of the “Dark Night of the Soul,” in that, once one has endured such an experience, the light eventually shines through. It’s an interesting subject. The phrase refers to an “untitled poem by the 16th century mystic, St. John of the Cross,” which was subsequently given that title due to the content of the poem. My introduction to the concept was through the writings of Carl Jung, who characterized symbolically the stages of personal transformation, the first of which is “Nigredo,” or “the blackening.”
Mr. Wesley has a number of albums of piano solo music that I often find inspiring, and he describes his compositions as “music for the soul.” It’s modern music, to be sure, but it is clearly conducive to creativity, in my case at least.
I agree that, in one sense, we “fight the battle anew each day,” and that victory in any endeavor can be elusive depending on one’s circumstances, but the light is our common source and goal, and when the battle is won, even just for a day, we grow and learn, and live to fight another day. Hopefully, as I suggest at the end of my poem, with persistence, we may eventually find solace, and see better days.
I read St John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila many years ago. Even then I was seeking. I was not at all sure I wished to go through the Dark Night but in the end so many of us seem to have to suffer it whether we seek it or not. I prefer the music of that period to St John’s Dark Night – in particular his contemporary in Spain, the priest Tomas Luis de Vittoria. I loved that Philip Wesley track – I must listen to some more.
I have never really read Jung but have always assumed that he would be my kind of person. I’m not sure I will ever get to Jung now, tired as I am and seeking experience rather than learning. Perhaps that world weariness comes to us all.
Yes, I believe your conclusion is correct. We see better days.
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Thank you so much for your visit and your comment. I have to say I was quite surprised to learn about the technical aspects of solar energy myself, and agree that it is great to learn about this technology.
You are so kind to remark about the content in my blog, which I am constantly working to make interesting and informative. I have visited your blog today and will be returning to read at length as the opportunity presents itself.
Thanks again…John H.