Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Challenge #16: SUNSET SIGHTING

Yes, I did have to run up behind them to get this shot

I will get outside every day and mindfully watch the sunset.

“Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under!”   
 - C. JoyBell C.

This month is a companion to last month’s sunrise every day challenge – pausing to go outside and take notice of a simple daily event.  The only real “challenge” was to mindfully plan for it in advance, or as I figured out, use the handy trick of setting an alarm on my smart phone for about ten minutes before sunset to remind me to get out there - it worked!
Why did I pick such an easy focus for this month, even easier than getting up for the sunrise?  Planning on (and definitely experiencing) a very busy work month was the main reason.  It only takes a short amount of time, and actually slowing down to get outside at the end of the day and close out (most of) the work from my brain helped me appreciate these moments even more than usual.  I am lucky to live a few blocks from the beach and like last month, this is where I traveled to watch the show most evenings.

How it went
Yes Virginia, there is a green flash…and I saw four of them this month, including two on consecutive nights!   This October happened to be a perfect month for this challenge, with exceptionally warm weather so it was truly pleasant to be outside at dusk each night, and the clear conditions most nights made for some good photo opps, mentally or digitally.
Planning my schedule around the sunset was fairly easy, but I did miss a few of them - two nights I simply forgot (didn’t start using the alarm idea until halfway through the month) while I was involved in something else, and two nights I abandoned it purposefully due to fog.  The sun was obviously going down through the fog, but there would be no show - no great change of light and color and texture which had accompanied most of the other evenings.  I didn’t bother going to see the wall of pure gray out over the ocean, if I could have even seen the ocean from the strand.

The People
Front row seats
Like the morning people last month, I noticed the evening people.  The regulars who were out walking their dog, or enjoying their glass of wine on the deck, or sprinting across the sand, board tucked underarm, to catch a few refreshing waves before dark.  Fewer of them were working out like the morning people, but they definitely had their routines.  I saw many of these sunsetters from my usual perch on one of the two benches at the end of my street.    Once I overheard a father telling his son “Look isn’t that pretty, the sun is about to evaporate into the ocean.”  The 5 or 6 year old urgently replied, “What does evaporate mean?”  Which took the father some time to explain, and I think he actually regretted his word choice.  I giggled to myself listening to their conversation for the next five minutes. 
A few times I walked while the show was going on, and noticed how so many tourists (lots of German, French, and Japanese these days) captured the moment with their devices, and it reinforced my appreciation for living in such a beautiful area where I could watch the often idyllic scene unfold just about anytime I desired.  

A sunset with the other half in Kauai (not this month)
Almost half the time my other half joined me, and the ritual became a great way for us to connect together at the end of our day.  My favorite was in Cambria, where we celebrated ten years together at the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, sitting at the railing table outside where we could both face west and watch the sun melt slowly into the calm central coast sea, while enjoying a great meal - highly recommended experience. 

Local youngsters
It was also fun to randomly run into people we know at sunset, like on the pier the first night when the director of the Roundhouse Aquarium, and his family opened the cooler in the back of their truck and showed us what they had collected on their dive that day – baby halibut and lobster – very cool little creatures I had never seen this size before.

What I learned
Overall, the (almost) full month of sunsets was another good exercise in slowing down and taking time to enjoy the beauty of nature outside every day.  The most rewarding days were when I was actually walking on the beach at water’s edge listening to the gulls and terns, and waves, and watching the light change, the moonrise, and the tide coming back in, along with the main show of course.   It’s calming, and rewarding, and well worth it to carve this sort of time out of our busy days, don’t you think?  Can you make a point to do more of this?  I’m going to try...

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