From the beginning, sunsets have been a dominant theme of mine. Periodically, I vow to myself that I will close the door on this phase and declare, “Enough. I could supply a city full of amateur photographers with sunset photos.” My effort is wasted. Ultimately, I never can resist going for one more.
The truth is that, while a part of me wants to resist photographing sunrises and sunsets and “move on” to a new subject, I never grow tired of losing myself in that splendor that marks the beginnings and endings of each day. For me, those final moments as the sun sinks out of sight are always particularly touching. Another day has slipped away and those hours can never be retrieved.
Some days end with no fanfare, and I find that touching in itself. No fanfare. No eye-filling displays of color. The sun simply slides behind the curve of the planet and the day is fundamentally gone. Then there are the days when the sun, in a last fierce blast of energy, belches color across the sky and the west erupts in a dazzling display of golds, purples, and pinks. Not all days give way quietly to the darkness. I am always awed by the drama.
I know my fascination with sunrises and sunsets has something to do with my keen appreciation of story and, after all, all stories have beginnings and ending. Great stories, (the ones we tuck away in the backs of our minds, so we can take them out and relish them now and again) have beginnings that grab us and say, “Come with me. Forget everything else. You don’t want to miss a moment of this!” The endings or resolutions of those stories are equally engaging and tend to stay with us. They often persist in our minds because they are spectacular. But, perhaps most of all, those endings that are satisfying incorporate events that are not fully predictable, while still resonating with us as ultimately inevitable. We have all read novels or seen films that were weakened by endings that didn’t meet these criteria. Sunsets always seem to be fitting endings. They are certainly predictable to a degree, but you just never know what delicious surprises may be thrown in during those last few moments.
I notice that my fascination with sunsets grows as I age. That’s probably because, like everyone else, I become increasingly aware of my mortality as the years pass. Sunsets are also about transience. No day, no matter how much fun, or how significant—or how awful, for that matter, lasts forever. These are not morose thoughts. They are simply some observations that were floating through my mind while I processed this photograph and marveled at the beauty and splendor that is there for us to enjoy each evening as one day fades into the next.