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The first time I truly appreciated the sunset was when I was 11 years old. My family decided to take a day trip to Devil’s Lake State Park where we spent the day swimming, hiking and lazing in the sun. Towards the end of the day my mom and I snuck up to the top of the bluffs and watched the sun disappear behind the horizon. I can’t picture what color the sky was, or the arrangements of the clouds that day; they were rather unremarkable. What I do remember, however, is how I felt at that moment. Sitting with my mom and watching the sun disappear below the horizon I was forced to be entirely present. I felt a sense of peace and well-being as I focused only on enjoying the moment. As the sky began to darken we made our way down the bluff and drove home, back to jobs and school and homework and friends; back to life.
Fast forward three years and a cancer diagnosis and I’m watching my mom take her last breath. The day my mom passed away, I was surprised as the sun crept lower and lower in the sky. It seemed as if it was only right that all time should stop. Previous to that moment, it was impossible to envision life moving forward without her. It only made sense that the world stop spinning on its axis; however, it kept turning despite the occurrence of a seemingly earth shattering event. I went outside that evening to watch the day end and tried to remember the time I sat on the bluffs with her, watching the sunset. I recalled the sense of peace and well-being, and reminded myself that there would always be a part of my mom in the sky. Although never completely, time had a hand in slowly closing the wound left by her death and helped me adjust to a new reality.
Two summers later and I’m thousands of miles away from home on my biggest adventure yet: a 30 day canoeing trip in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The sunset’s are later there, usually around 11 p.m. Most nights, we watched the sunset from the tent, hopefully on our way to bed. Day 26 of our trip I watched dusk from the beach on our campsite. I sat with my toes in the sand and couldn’t help but feel the familiar sense of peace in such a wildly unfamiliar place. Unlike at home, I had no way of predicting what the next day would have in store. I couldn’t have known if there would be rain, 35 mile an hour winds or if a bear would eat our food, but I knew with absolute certainty that the next night the sun would set and time would keep going.
Many denote sunsets as a measure of time, as an indicator to cross a day of the calendar. Because of dusk’s consistence people tend not to notice it, believe it not important. For me, however, it is the very consistence of sunsets that make them so special. Regardless of where I am, what is happening, or who I am with the sun will always set. With each sunset, whatever is breaking my world at that moment becomes more manageable. In turn, it serves as a reminder to cherish what makes me happy, because that too is fleeting. When all else in life is unpredictable, amidst chaos and calm, I know the sun will always go down, and I will always be okay.
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