Trying to burn off the extra meals I ate on this cruise, I walk on the plank of the ship. One always ends up eating more than necessary in a all you can eat scenario. It’s that mindset – I don’t know when I will get food next, might as well eat up!
As the light blue sky turns darker, the reflection on the crystal clear water does the same. I see groups of people, couples holding hands, walking towards of the opposite direction of my stride. They are heading towards the top deck. I turn around and see the orange glowing sun, getting ready to say goodbye to our side of the planet soon.
With a typical herd mentality, I abandon my walking ambition and head towards the top deck. The breeze is blowing strongly – and you feel a chill in the air.
There are about a hundred people gathered on the top deck, surrounded by glass railings. People of different age, gender and race, await those precious few moments of a beautiful sunset. Many are holding a camera towards the glowing red sky with a burning ball in the center. Many are posing to take pictures with the glowing sun next to them.
I wonder why sunsets are so beautiful in our minds. Isn’t every sun set the same as the last one?
Or, is it because, it reminds us of our finite time on the planet, and who knows if we will see the next sunset? Or maybe because, we are celebrating the end of another day in our lives and wondering how the next day would be.
There is a sad and happy moment all together. In some ways it’s a natural intersection of our continuous journey. New preparations needed – protections needed – as darkness engulfs us.
I remember, as a child, somehow at dusk, we were rushed indoors. My mother was never really fond of sunsets. I think the dark unknown scared her and she wanted to protect us from all the jinn and bhoot (spirits) that were out to inhabit children, who are playing outside at that specific moment. I realized this more seriously, once on a long trip through the American Southwest; driving through the desert at sunset, I noticed my mother crying at the back of the car. She asked me vehemently, why I insist on driving in the dark.
When I was in college, there was an ad on TV that showed a young dad and a child under a tree, watching a sunset, as he explains this phenomenon to his young child he says, “Going…..going….gone”. The little child, in the dark, next says naturally, “Wow, Dad…. Do it again!”
It is one of the most memorable and touching ads I have seen. It’s one of those memorable moments in life when utter amazement is coupled with the sense of discovery.
Over time, I have confronted my fears of the sunset and have learned to enjoy them. Living in the East Coast of the Florida, I some times go to the beach to welcome the sun; however, I don’t get to see a sunset very often. In the evenings, I sit on my patio or my boat, longingly looking at the pink sky and imagining the sun setting around Marco Island or somewhere west of us.
This relationship with the Sun, is something very special for humans. I think it reminds us of the natural stages of our own lives; the transitions, the vitality of life, yet with the inevitability of change that awaits us. The fact that, every day is a gift; it’s finite and perishable – that’s worth making special.
As another year draws to an end, I sit back and try to take stock of all the things that have happened around me this year. Many happy things, many smiling faces have surrounded me. I have also been besieged by the darkness of tumult, of uncertainty – not knowing what happens next. I realize, in some ways, like sun sets, that’s what life is all about.
All we can do, during our short journey, is to try to make others happy. Our happiness is really a by-product of the happiness of those around us. You have to try to be like the sun, setting far, far away, with no realization of how it is impacting others.
Every day, the Sun makes our lives possible, with energy and light that is our basic foundation. That’s why sunsets are so special.
There is a Hindi song, that rings in my ear, from many years ago, sung by Mukesh, in one of my favorite movies, Anand:
“Kahi dur jab din dhal jaye, (as the sun sets)
Saanjh Ki Dulhan, Badan Churaye, Choopke Sey Aye (like a beautiful, shy, red bride, gently, hides her face)
Mere Khayalo, Key Angan Mey, Koi Sapno Key, Deep Jalaye, Deep Jalaye! (someone lights a dream of the future in my thoughts)”
After everything, sunsets make us realize that there is a hope for another day – another dream – to start the next day fresh and make all dreams possible.
This is why, every sun set is so special and unique in its own way. One realizes that what you were today, you will be different tomorrow. You will be re-born, bringing together your experiences of the past.
That’s why, every sunset deserves to be photographed.