Gerry and I landed at the airport in San Francisco in the mid-afternoon a couple weeks ago, jumped in our rental car and, on a whim, drove south to Carmel By The Sea instead of north to the place where his meetings would commence the following day. We had been in Carmel years before and had fond memories of a romantic dinner and walk along the seashore.
“If we hurry, we’ll be able to see the sun set over the ocean,” I said, just before we got lost. Getting un-lost stole some valuable time but we drove in to Carmel just as the sun was dipping over the horizon. We found a place to park and hurried down to the sandy beach. Scores of people of all ages were doing the same thing so we joined the throng and moved briskly along.
By the time we got to the beach the sun was almost gone. I fumbled in my purse for my iPhone and was just able to catch the top rim of the glowing orb as it sank below the horizon. It was gorgeous.
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you can watch the sun set over the sea you’ll know how fast it happens. From the minute the bottom edge of the sun touches the far edge of the sea until the entire ball is gone is just a couple of minutes. I’ve never timed it but I’ve watched it happen enough times to know that if you look away or get distracted, you’ll miss the whole show.
How like life, I thought, as we trudged uphill over the sand, back to our car. Have you ever noticed that some hot sunny days can feel like they last forever? The sun seems to stand still. But the closer it gets to the horizon, the faster it seems to go. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it’s gone.
When my kids were little and I was changing diapers, making meals, doing endless piles of laundry, breaking up squabbles, and walking the floor with sick babies it sometimes felt like the sun stood still. “When will this end?” I used to think on those really tough days where I was sleep-deprived and surrounded by chaos. I longed for the “sunset” when life would be mellower, calmer, more restful.
Now that I am in my “sunset season” I have discovered that even though the sun’s speed (dear science police — I know it’s the earth that moves, not the sun but let’s just continue with our metaphor if you please) never changes it seems like it’s moving faster the older I get. Our first grandchild just turned six and wasn’t it just last week she was born? I’m scared to “blink” because when I open my eyes she’ll be graduating from high school!
Because it seems like life has sped up, I have decided to savour some sunsets. When people phone me or I call them — yes, I still use that ancient form of communication — I stop what I am doing and sit down. I don’t unload the dishwasher, move wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, or chop salad. I don’t want to miss something so I focus on the conversation.
If my grandkids, who live nearby, call and ask to come over for “tea and toast” I always make time, no matter what deadlines I am facing. Even if we can only nibble and sip for 30 minutes, I don’t want to miss it.
If my husband says, “I found a great movie you’d enjoy” or “your hockey team is playing and I taped the game, do you want to watch it?” I say yes. He could easily watch his own team play or do his own thing but if he is inviting me to “play” I don’t want to miss it.
Savor some sunsets this year. Before you know it, the show’s over and you don’t want to miss it.