The sun goes down on everyone. It rises for everyone too. It happens everyday but it is still sublime and on occasion it can stop you in place and flood you with emotions ranging from the simple to special memories, the state of your life, and contemplation of your purpose. It is the height of what it means to be fully alive. It takes your breath away and you savor each moment wishing that it would last forever. But, like other great moments and rare beauty it always goes by too quickly. Leaving you trying to etch it into your memory and take it all in.
Photographs and paintings can only capture one sense and whether done while the artist observed sunsets or painted by memory they can capture a piece of that which transcends, but still, they can not replicate the real thing. The very fact that unlike a true sunset they remain photos and paintings fails to bring on the realization that we are witnessing a once in a lifetime moment. All our senses and nerves should be on edge, The mind’s thoughts are not forced to the profound and the body fails to record the wind and temperature. The smell of flowers, pine trees, burning leaves, a barbecue in the distance, an old man’s pipe. The reflection of the sunset on a still pond or lake, the ripples of fish touching the surface and the soft sound of the water rolling as they turn. A painting or photo can only catch part of the moment. It can catch the mountain in the distance, the golden light and shadows that mix in a city alley creating a magical wonderland where decay and waste lay, or how the fading sunlight illuminates the massive buildings that scrape the sky and leave shadows like giants. They fail to record the feel of the wind passing your face and hair. The quiet feeling of being deep in the wilderness alone, the smells of the spices coming from a famous restaurant that is somehow slightly better than that makes you feel like you are getting your own personal show. The picture has no honking of horns, people yelling at a baseball game, or a couple arguing in the apartment above you. The sound of music flowing down the arteries of cities, or the glimpse of a dear quietly sauntering out of sight. The smells of spices being mixed at the best restaurant in a city filled with fine cuisine.
In a world full of division one thing that we all have in common is that the sun sets each day. Unfortunately, in our modern world many fail to see the sunset. For many they are working indoors and for others they fail to take the time because they are more interested in television, computer games, texting, and so many other trappings of the modern world. I have found myself disturbed anytime that I could not see the sunset because I had to work. Still even during times in my life where my job kept me from seeing the sunset I made sure to watch them on my days off. I am saddened by those that have no interest in the sunset. I wonder how they can stand to miss out on the drama. Sunsets are filled with firsts and lasts. Good memories and regrets. Love and unrequited love. Betrayal. Confessions. Prayers. Life itself.
Despite those that have no care for sunsets I have noticed that even in large cities that have buildings that were themselves works of art that sunset stopped what must be millions for a few moments to think, reflect, and renew. The sunset has the power to draw our attention despite all the other distractions in a big city. It is a testament to how small we really are.
The reasons for taking time to watch the sunset according to Jaclyn Goldbaum in an article on her blog A Gold Lining entitled 5 Reasons Why You Should Make Time for the Sunset. Reasons include: better mood, less stress, time in nature, inspiration, appreciation for the earth, and more.. She makes the powerful point that, “Beauty enriches life and makes it much more rewarding.”
As we revolve around the sun the sunset has a powerful effect on us. It is a time that like all things will take on different meanings for different people at different points in their life. For some it may be a time to celebrate. For others a time spent ruminating on regrets. It is time for calibration. To take inventory. For some it is time to recount the things that they are grateful for. For some it is a great sign that today is over and that you can start again tomorrow. For the young a time perhaps wasted, or maybe a time for storing away memories. For the old the marking of another day and the choice of so many different memories to reflect on, and in an overwhelming time of rapidly changing world a constant. Just as the sunset cannot remain, neither can we, and so the reality that one day we will see our last sunset makes it all the more special and all the more serious. More attention getting. All the more a catalyst for change. A reminder of our limited time with each other and for achieving our aspirations. For others it is a time spent surviving and appreciating the sunset takes a backseat to eating or drinking and therefore the sunset represents an opportunity to steal from those distracted by it. An added bonus is the darkness that provides cover. While for so many the sunset is a time to begin their plans to saddle up come morning, I would be remiss if I did not point out that for others it is a symbol of the end. Upon reaching an end some will see a world fading in its brilliance and turning darker and colder and sunset might symbolize the end of hope and likewise a magnificently colorful and powerful time to choose an exit. I have to wonder if the truth is that those that claim to have no interest in the sunset actually are scared to death by it.