I’ve been collecting a lot of sunrises and sunsets lately. It feels like I’m packing them away like fragile things and adding them to a secret collection. Sometimes nothing makes you slow down and regain perspective like watching a sunrise or sunset, especially reflected in the placid waters of the Pacific.
Every one I miss is one that I’ll never get to watch as it paints the sky again.
I’m not a fan of Emerson. At all. But something I read in high school stuck:
If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.
A few weeks ago, a good friend went with me to watch a sunset from one of Guam’s clifftops. She gazed at her phone for twenty minutes, rapidly messaging someone on the other end of the Internet, then looked up just before the last drop of honeyed gold dripped below the horizon. “That wasn’t such a great sunset,” she remarked. “Ready to go? I’m hungry.”
It’s a testament to how good a friend she is that she even went with me to watch the sun set at all. But for her, unless the entire sky is riddled with brilliant golds and oranges that show up well on an Instagram pic, it isn’t really worth her time–or attention.
If we only saw a sunset once every thousand years, how many people would swarm outside and find the best possible spots to watch those colors light up the sky? Yet our smartphones, books, and conversations about the weather seem infinitely more consequential.