One of my goals, as part of my ED recovery, was to really start to take notice of the world around me. The process of being ill is so isolating, all focus on such a narrow point, that the world sort of slips by with almost no attention paid at all.
I could not have asked for a better example of really noticing than the sunset yesterday evening. It was, well…glorious. There is no other adjective that encompasses the incredible beauty of that sunset. I was lucky enough to be driving home, and around every corner and curve, bursting above the shrouded pine trees, was this.
Kinda looks photo-shopped, doesn’t it? Like watercolor thrown against a velvet background, seeping pinks and bruised blues tremble against the delicate, lavender gray underbellies of the stretching clouds. Before, I would not have seen this sunset. No joke. I’d have been driving home, utterly exhausted and in a funk and this absolutely mind-blowing beauty would have been utterly missed.
I stopped probably eighteen times to take photos, undoubtedly drove somewhat erratically (I’m not intoxicated officer, I promise, I’m just trying to see the SKY!!!) and I’m sure I drove other drivers nuts as I dawdled along the narrow country lanes, gazing upwards adoringly.
The culminating show was as I reached one of our lovely Maine bogs (said without any sarcasm, I love them dearly) and pulled off the road for the last time. The water was splashed with faded pastels, the newly arrived spring birds were singing sleepily in the leafless trees and, far away, a gaggle of geese were honking forlornly over the reeds.
The intensity of that experience is a little mind-boggling. I stood on the side of the road, listening to the world going to sleep and I couldn’t contain the joy. I haven’t felt joy like that in so long, I don’t even remember when. Raw, almost painful truthfully. Like waking up early from a hard nap, disoriented but glad the whole day hasn’t passed you by. I was overwhelmed and had to sit for a few minutes, as the sky deepened from warm cerulean blue to a deep, velvety navy, the clouds shifting in aimless patterns over the trees and the last of the pinks, purples and gentle golds faded away.
I was always one of those people who generally ignored the practice of active gratitude. ‘Gratitude’ doesn’t have a tangible pant-size to strive-for and it doesn’t endlessly berate you for tiny mistakes, so I rarely thought about it.
I am grateful for that sunset though. For the bubble of delight that lasted me well into my evening, for the reminder that the world still has stunning loveliness in it and that I haven’t missed it all.
And lastly, I am grateful that I noticed.