Sunsets

Jan - Midland, Michigan
Entered on March 2, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: nature
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Everything comes to an end, even great radio programs like This I Believe. But before the sun sets on this slice of life, I want to share my own belief in sunsets.

That’s right, I believe in sunsets.

I believe sunsets are more than just an end to a day. You see, I see it two ways.

Sometimes the sunset is the perfect exclamation point to the perfect day. I have the privilege of being married to a general aviation pilot who took me for flights in his Cessna 150 as part of our dating ritual. I grew up with a pilot dad, and so hopping in a small plane with no plan other than to fly around was an absolute thrill. On one return flight in mid-March, Brian and I flew home as a newly engaged couple. The sunset blazed behind us over Lake Michigan. Above us was a robin’s egg blue Michigan sky. Below us one thousand feet was a flock of snow white egrets headed east for their Canadian home, unaware that they were escorting us fellow fliers home as well to new life with new love.

Sometimes a sunset brings a blessed relief to the end of a horrible day. I couldn’t imagine that I would lay my head down on my pillow and sleep after my father died early that morning, but my body knew best what I needed. Every night for two years I imagined not the sun setting, but the sun being sucked into a giant black hole of sadness and despair. I was thankful to have made it through another day. And then it happened. One evening, the sun was too big to fit in that black hole. The black hole was shrinking, and it continued to shrink, until it was nothing more than a tiny, dark sunspot a thousand million miles away.

I love my state. Look at Michigan on a map and you will see two parts, the lowest penninsula shaped like a mitten, and all parts surrounded by the Great Lakes, which are really giant freshwater inland seas. Michigan is truly one big sand dune and gravel pit sculpted by glaciers preceding and receding for tens of thousands of years. Sit anywhere facing west, be it a flat soybean field in the thumb, a raised marshland in the palm, or on the edge of a hill in the pinky over looking valleys of small lakes, and you are sitting at the beach, ready to watch the sunset. Pick an evening with a few clouds, which is usually the case anyway. But don’t just go to watch the sunset. Stick around for the show after, when the sky courses and moves through all the colors of the rainbow. Sit transfixed, silent, and then applaud nature’s beauty. And most of all, remember to bring someone you love.

There are very few certain things in this life, but I know this: after the sun sets, the sun will always rise tomorrow.