We live by sunrises and sunsets. We rise when the sun rises, and retire shortly after the sun sets. In between, we channel the sunlight to charge our (literal and proverbial) batteries. We (and our boat) are solar powered.
I try to be cognizant of each day’s sunrise and sunset, to thank my lucky stars for having kept me alive to see another one. I try to use the quiet intervals between day and night and night and day to be wholly present where I am. I fail most of the time, as I am running down the stairs to grab my camera, trying to boil a green tea to wake my eyes in the morning, trying to toss a salad to eat for dinner in the evening, and just being my general absent minded self.
But without fail, with each sunrise and each sunset, I am awed. No matter what happens in the world, no matter what war is waging, no matter what deal is closing or dying, no matter illness, love, failure, success, no matter what, the sun will rise tomorrow, and it will set tomorrow, and again the next day. It is shocking. The mathematician in me understands gravitational forces and rotational paths and axes and horizons and lines of sight. The poet in me is awed by the audacity of it all. A giant ball of flames rises in the east every morning and sets in the west every evening. Every single day.
It is clockwork, perfect engineering, and yet wholly poetic and artistic and beautiful. Each sunrise and each sunset is unique. Pink, red, orange, yellow, (sometimes almost) purple, and then (maybe) a flash of green. The clouds sometimes absorb the entire color, or just an edge glows, or if there are no clouds the entire sky is hued. The apex is blindingly bright, but across the sky behind you, the faint pink glow of a cloud opens your eyes. Even in the greyest of grey sunsets, there is a slight tinge of mauve.
Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.” (Matthew 16: 2-3).
And Shakespeare wrote, “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.” (Venus and Adonis).
But nothing could be further from my truth. I want red skies every night and every morning. I want clouds on the horizon casting a shadow in the sun just as it peeks over the horizon or dips below it. I want clouds in the sky that hang onto the color long before the sun rises and long after it sets. I am wholly greedy. I want each sunrise and each sunset to be one that reaffirms my belief in God, that humbles me at the beauty and power and simplicity of nature, that assures me that I have made the right decision leaving the city, the apartment, the job, the life to live this life. It’s a tall order. And the sunrises and sunsets never fail.
(The sailor in me understands that a red sky indicates high pressure, as the sun reflects against the sky loaded with moisture particles, and that high pressure means more stable air and less storm conditions. So the sailor understands that in easterly prevailing winds, you want red skies in the morning, and in westerly prevailing winds you want red skies at night. The writer in me wants red everyday. So Jason handles the weather analysis and navigation.)
I remember the summer sunsets over Lake Michigan on Empire Beach growing up. In western Michigan, in June and July, the days seem to last forever and the sun doesn’t set until nearly 10 pm. We would swim and ski and tube all day, come in for dinner, drive over to the beach for the sunset, and fall asleep in the backseat on the way home. My parents still go almost everyday, devotional to each other and to the awesome power of God and nature in a way that strikes me as uncharacteristic of them. The sunrises from my summer bunk on the boat in the lift, rising up over Miller Hill, leaving a long orange streak across Glen Lake, woke me for another 7 am water ski, long before I was a morning person.
The only sunrises I saw in New York were from my office on the southeast corner of the 47th floor of our Midtown East office building, because we often worked on Tokyo time and I always lived on the west side of town. The sun came up over Queens, a little hazy from the pollution, like it wasn’t sure the city was ready for its full power that early in the morning. Seeing the sunrise from my desk always gave me a breath of fresh air to power through the next day, a power caffeine could never rival.
The sunsets over New Jersey were spectacular. Before I found myself my very own Jersey boy, I thought of Jersey as the very generous backdrop for my fantastic sunsets. The colors seemed to hang in the sky for hours, as though the polluted air particles could hold onto the beautiful scene until the sun came back the next day. And the scene changed as time went on, and colors and light faded, as clouds shifted and moved. The colors and clouds were unreal. People would ask me what filter I used to alter the picture. Just Jersey air.
Here, there is no desk to watch the sunrise from, no pollution to hang onto the sunset past its prime. Here, there is an ocean full of water that sun rises up from in the morning, and an ocean full of water that if falls into in the evening. Here, there is the chance to be present and mindful at each rising and setting. ガんばります。
A few more pics because I just can’t help myself:
A few from my first overnight ever (Berry Islands) (and the reason I alway pick the watch that includes the sunrise)