We name restaurants after it. The Sunset Grille. We purposefully time our dinner reservations around it. We pull over our cars to pause and get out to take pictures of it. No one needs a bumper sticker that reads "will brake for sunsets" as a disclaimer to other drivers behind us. It's just understood.
Everything comes to a halt when a colorful sunset is happening. Our species is mesmerized by that moment when the sky turns pink and orange or treats us to shades of blue or purple. We stop and say "ooh look, peach and lavender", like kindergartners choosing crayons out of a box.
We watch the hot ball of fire drop down on the horizon until it disappears, all of us knowing it happens because we exist on a planet spinning through space around our one source of energy, that burning star in the distance.
But there's a deeper understanding to why we stop and stare.
On my recent visit to the Florida Keys, I noticed that people gathered along the long fence that overlooked the ocean, smiling at each other, waiting patiently, everyone collectively knew what was coming.
The sunset itself is never a surprise. We know the precise minute it happens every day, our phones tell us :) Yet each sunset still retains the element of mystery. What we look forward to is the unraveling of a unique medley of clouds and colors. It's like watching a favorite artist "going live" while painting something new. "What will it be this time?" we think.
On a sunny day, we dismiss the same shade of blue that hovers over us, then that blue loses its saturation at day's end. Dusk switches the scenery and the sky becomes a backdrop for the debut of the setting sun. In that moment we pause in unison to look, appreciate, sigh, smile, and photograph its disappearance.
There may be a better definition for a sunset than a "transition from day to night"? Sunsets, on a deeper level, are when humans, in unison, are all simultaneously living in the moment.
We're not working at our computer or busy checking off our to-do list. Sunsets are when we as a collective are totally present. There is no longing for the past. There is no uncertainty about what the future holds. There is only a recognition of the now.
Our unconscious perception is "What a lovely sunset I'm seeing with my eyes." but our deeper consciousness sneaks in this daily lesson.
Now is all you have.
When we stop and stare, we accept the sun's invitation to live in that one moment. The all knowing sunset says: "Enjoy this time. Breathe it in. Accept the gift that is happening now. Will you see me tomorrow? No guarantee."
There are a finite number of sunsets in our lives and we will never know that number. The takeaway of the sunset is to be grateful for each one.