Bipolar Planet
When Summer Is Up, Winter Is Down


Are you violently happy, irritable, excited, restless, sad, ecstatic, calm, crying uncontrollably, sated, binge eating, horny, completely satisfied, hyperactive or just plain not sure? Of course, you are. You live on a bipolar planet.

On Tuesday, June 21st at 5:16 in the afternoon Southern California Time, our emotional world will reach it’s maximum potential for bipolarity.  That would be Summer Solstice — the official start of summer and, for those who think “physics,” the day the North Pole inclines to its farthest point sunward. This tipping of the global ball does more than compel us to reset our clocks to daylight savings.  It also can change our mood.  On solstice day, planet earth is primed for manic depression — a frustrating mess.  This particular brand of bipolarity is not only chronologic — longer nights in the south, longer days in the north — but psychologic as well . Everyone North of the equator, which is where I’m standing, will be experiencing the longest day and shortest night of the year. With the greatest amount of sunlight at hand, our pineal glands will be working serious overtime hours transforming nervous system signals into melatonin. As a result our serotonin levels will rise. 

Well-practiced Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and MDMA users know that when serotonin is up, so are personal joy factors. Your well-being feeling is enhanced, at least in your head.  The world may be imploding, but you generally feel better about it. You may even dance.  June 21st, then, is the northern hemisphere's serotonin festival — or what some call nature's rave.

But for every yin there is a yang. Down under on the southern curves of the earth, June 21st is the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year. Less light equals less serotonin. Less serotonin equals joy suppression. The medical profession, as if it didn't already have enough subcatagories, has named this muted human condition — Seasonal Affective Disorder, S. A. D., sad.

Symptoms of SAD include: decreased concentration, excessive daytime sleepiness, sluggish movements, social withdrawal, and, of course, those old familiar standbys, unhappiness and a piss poor attitude.

So while we're cresting on brilliance and dancing with our neurotransmitters in the North, Southern Hemispherians will be bottoming out in the darkening day. Globally and pineal glandally speaking, the summer/winter solstice is Worldwide Manic Depression Day — hugs and love in one hemisphere, SAD in the other.

For the north on June 21st, any major decisions with anyone from the south such as business contracts with Bolivians, firearms sales with Argentinians, marital agreements with Brazilians, or adding anyone below the Tropic of Capricorn as a facebook friend should be avoided at all costs. Remember: We will be light-hearted and giddy, they'll be cranky and suicidal.

But keep this in mind, things fall apart, the center cannot hold.  It’s a bipolar planet.  May you have a joyous abundance of solstice serotonin. In six months you're in for an astronomic mood swing.

— Nathan Callahan

First Broadcast June 10, 2011

© / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved


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