Is it just me or are sunsets and sunrises two of the most beautiful natural phenomena? Together they occur twice daily (unless you are at the poles during certain seasons), and no matter where you are , whether it be in a big city, at the seaside, your favourite bush location or simply sitting in your living room at home you are able to experience this wonderful time of day.
But just why do we enjoy them so much? I have often thought about this and I have my reasons, but perhaps you can share some of yours in the comments below? I would very much enjoy reading them.
I think part of the reason must be that they are predictable- we know they are coming and unless we somehow succumb to one of the many doomsday scenarios (which BTW is highly improbable) we WILL experience one of each everyday. To me it is also their mystery, the awe they inspire, and the promises they carry. The promise of a new day, a clean slate and the opportunity to try again, to do more and to be better. Simply a reminder that life, in all of it’s complexity is truly beautiful despite everything that makes it seem otherwise, those bills that pile up, that work deadline that looms ever closer, or those relationships you wish could have worked out. Tomorrow make a point of just sitting and taking in the beauty as the sun rises or fades and about all that is positive in your life and that you are grateful for. Yes this is all very “fluffy”- fear not, you are in no immediate danger of any rainbows and unicorns suddenly spewing or leaping from your screen. But seriously, just stop, take a moment out of your busy , ever-connected lives (probably best to turn off that cell phone) and BE.
I am sure each and every one of you has their own version of what classifies as a special sunset/sunrise. Is it the colours? where you are? who you are with? or do you just need that delicious ice-cold drink in your hand? or perhaps the ruby-red elixir of your favourite wine? To me it is about the smells, the sounds and the atmosphere:
It is the middle of July and I am surrounded by the african savanna. There is a sense of serenity in this place. I am filled with a sense of deep calmness and peace. The chalkiness of the dust that lingers in the air settles on my palette- a reminder of the harshness of the landscape, and the ever-present struggle for water in the dry season. My breathing slows and my senses come alive- this is what it means to be alive, surely it must be? All my worries drift gently away. My skin is warm as I feel the pleasant embrace of the sun’s rays wash over me, creating a state of perfect comfort. A breeze gently laps at my back bringing with it a host of extraordinary melodies. A chorus- that is the best way to describe what I am hearing. Birds chirp and sing, insects buzz and hippos snort. A deep baritone rumble, almost imperceptible to the human ear fills the air. I feel it more in my body as the vibrations ripple over me than I do making use of my ears. I’m eavesdropping on what is essentially the equivalent of an “elephant phone call”. It is the most extraordinary sound, rich in meaning and complex too. There is something else in the air, it grows stronger as the sun sets, a sweet luscious smell, a smell that is characteristically African, the smell of cooking potatoes. No someone is not cooking nearby, this is the scent given off by the potato bush (Phyllanthus reticulatus), whose function is to attract nocturnal pollinators to the plant. I inhale deeply, in through my nose and out through my mouth. With each breath I appreciate my surroundings even more. The boulder I am using as a seat is warm to the touch, radiated during the day by the harsh sun. It is the epitome of comfort as the air begins to chill ever so slightly. That is when I notice the sight before me. Shades of deep crimson red, orange, yellow and pink are intertwined, bathing the clouds in glorious colour, stretching across the horizon. There is a golden light that washes across the landscape, originating from the glowing ember which sinks ever lower in the sky. The colours deepen, and become more intense, the sky is ablaze and rays drape the horizon. Shadows lengthen and blackness floods the landscape, replacing the gold. I am lucky…before me sets an african sun and as it sinks gently below the horizon smells, sounds and sights again change as the nocturnal world prepares for its time in the spotlight. I make my way back to camp, refreshed, my soul invigorated and renewed. I cannot wait for tomorrow 🙂