I have forced myself out of bed for it, even on holidays, especially on holidays ! I have braved the winter chill and gusty wind for it. Rubbing sleep out of my eyes and ignoring my weary body which begged to rest some more. Sometimes perched on uncomfortable stone benches and parapets, sometimes with no place to sit, standing, people bustling around, everyone lost in their own thoughts. Like many of my kind, I have chased the perfect sunset and sunrise all my life. It has been on the itinerary of most of my vacations. Tour operators would obligingly pile us in vehicles and take us to vantage points to witness the grand spectacle.
Armed with cameras and smart phones to show the world what we had seen. Witnessing a daily event, eyes glued to the horizon, each moment filled with anticipation. The eternal question looming large, will it appear in full splendor or will clouds mar its beauty? In the company of people who were similarly inspired, oohing and aahing or sitting in silence, appreciating the miracle which is the reason for our existence.
Once my daughter sleepily asked what drove me to see reruns of the same show? Whether it meant something more than the burst of color she could see? Does a sunset have to mean something? Isn’t the assurance that the sun will rise again in its full glory enough? Isn’t the message of impermanence that the rising sun gives enough? That what goes up will come down. Isn’t it wondrous that dawn and dusk which are opposing ends of the spectrum appear so alike? Is it merely a coincidence that each day the sun arrives and leaves as a red disc, becoming a yellow ball of fire in between? Isn’t it reassuring that the sun and moon give opposing messages. While one teaches clockwork regularity the other says it is alright to have phases.
Inspired, I continue my quest. I have seen it across the sea, peeking through mountain peaks, above grassy flatlands and over the barren salt fields of the Rann of Kutcch. Recently driving down the west coast in California I caught the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, vibrant and vivid as ever. The sky a canvas of orange and red. No matter where I have seen it. It is always splendid, always spectacular. Back home from Oia, Greece which is famous for its sunsets my dad took pictures of the setting sun from his balcony. Ordinary camera, ordinary setting, and the less said about his technique the better. And yet it was an extraordinary picture showing the vibrant red and orange sky of dusk. That is when I first understood what makes the phenomenon special. The fact that we took time out to pause and notice.
Since then I try to catch a glimpse of the sun whenever I can from wherever I can. I have made sunrise a part of my morning constitutional and rerouted my stroll so that I walk towards it. Although few will make it to the hall of fame and the ‘ to do list’ of tourists, none has ever disappointed. Four minutes of wonder as it appears as a red disc, ready to burn through the day till it leaves in a burst of color. Four minutes to thank the universe for what is has granted me and what it hasn’t….
( published as a Spice of Life in HT on 8/7/2019)