Never miss an opportunity to watch the sun set. You would be renouncing your eye potential to serve its highest calling, evading the sustenance of among its greatest body functions. It’s the difference between sharing and keeping a secret. To many who can wrap their minds around the idea of witnessing the jolting life moments of red tide or a first kiss embedded in the everyday daily, the phenomenon becomes an avatar of romance. It effects an uplifting transformation much like that which love effects over human qualities, and it is of the same renowned beauty. But day-to-night is no less enrapturing if you’re not in love, or are unsure of your feelings or even of who you are.
Just a couple months ago, amid the onset of winter, I had the privilege of experiencing the premature befalling of darkness upon any short November day in what some would call the ultimate romantic setting- just the two of us alone on the beach. This Saturday date, however, hadn’t been like so many others before it, and this was silently understood between us. This time James and I had spent the whole day together, and for some reason, maybe my face didn’t shine as well in the sunlight or he wasn’t as charming at dinner, the weight of a prolonged, uneventful time was felt shifting our chemistry. Like a true mourner my passages were opened to any source of comfort and closure.
I walked side by side with the man I wanted so badly to open up to, to share my life with, for what seemed like hours. But I was suffering injured commitment, convincing myself it was better if I felt no more heat by his hand in mine, and gradually I became more voluntarily rapt in my surroundings. As planned, we hadn’t missed the tellingly expedited sundown, ushering in an anticipated end to the day. Soon we were completely enshrouded by that same magical darkness in which we first met. I allowed myself one last adoring look into James’ face, and I recognized it from our amazing first date.
It was like the sunset did something to justify the quiet, and I could feel momentarily okay reliving another time. When his restraint refused to take me over that familiar edge, I was confronted by the present, which seemed so humorously contradictory. Although I was only dejected, it came to me that the duration of my stimulated response was on my terms. I could live any moment if I just didn’t wait upon that restraint.
The sunset helped me to let go and simultaneously encouraged me to hold on. In it I could descry a message similar to the romantic visions sunset is so apt to impose on a loving couple regarding their future together, only it was meant for me. I was reminded that I have my own future, promising many more sunsets and a whole succession of days, good and bad. Sundown possessed the spirited ability to connect all of them, making them seem altogether comprehensible in a single lifetime.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.