(Adapted from a journal entry I wrote a couple months ago)
I stared into the sunset, transfixed and still. It’s bold azure burning into deep purple igniting the sky with it’s fiery flickers extending as far as they could reach. The clouds passing through in hopes that they too could be a part of the Divine beauty that had caused everyone, including myself, to just stop in that moment.
Three minutes later is was all over. Never to be seen again in the exact same way.
After the sun had set, everyone else went about their normal activities. I couldn’t.
I just sat there. Thinking to myself that I wish every day could be like that sunset. To hold on to that type of beauty and grandeur in every moment.
Why can’t it? I wondered.
Maybe I was asking myself the wrong question.
Perhaps the better question was…How?
My mind instantly flashed back to February. February was the first time I had seen my dad since he’d been sick. I walked into the house after a long car drive expecting him to jump up as usual and shout “Kate the Great! You made it!”
It didn’t exactly happen like that. In fact, he couldn’t get up. The energy was visibly drained from his face.
I remember calling my mom with a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, I could barely speak and you could have filled an ocean with my tears. I didn’t know what would happen. I’d never felt so unsure of the future.
My mom couldn’t do anything to take away my pain, but in pure mom fashion she could help me see the light from the dark over the phone.
All she kept saying to me was “Katie. STOP WORRYING. STAY IN THE MOMENT. Remember that for today you have your dad. For today he is there. Be with him today. Enjoy today. Even if he’s different and it’s hard, he’s still your dad and TODAY he’s here. STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE”
Was that possible? Was it possible to not worry about the future? What would happen if I didn’t have my guard up and then life surprised me with a disappointment?
I wasn’t sure. But I thought I’d try it out. It felt like my only option at that point.
So, I sat there, wiped my tears and walked downstairs. I sat next to my dad and read a book. We weren’t talking about all the things we used to, in fact, we weren’t talking at all. And that was OK. For in that moment, I was where I needed to be – enjoying the moment and not worry about what MAY or MAY NOT happen.
Something within me changed in that moment on the phone. I hadn’t realized it until months later when I was sitting there thinking about my sunset.
I had learned to practice living in the moment. To worry less about the future. And ENJOY that 3 minute sunset I was witnessing without clouding it’s beauty with worry.
As someone who used to be a natural worrier this was new. It was new and it was liberating.
Here I was 7 months later…and my dad was still sick, not much had changed there. Other worries that used to keep me up at night were also still there for the most part. But I was different. I was practicing the art of enjoying the moment.
The word “practice” is important because I still have times when I panic about the future when placed in various situations. Moments where I anxiously wonder what I will do if XYZ happens? (XYZ = a myriad of situations ranging from small to large).
But thanks for wonderful friends and wonderful family that talk me through those moments (cue: The Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends”) I’m learning to do it on my own too.
I am learning to live in and appreciate each and every moment, good or bad, scary or happy, mundane or exciting without thinking about how they will reflect on my future.
Keep in mind I said LEARNING. Not totally there yet, but getting there.
Maybe that’s what a sunset really is. It’s void of worry. It takes in all of the color, beauty and grandeur in that moment and lets itself shine, without wondering if it will set one day or diminish in it’s glory. It just exists in that moment.
As Lewis Carrol said in one of my favorite stories, Alice in Wonderland,
“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”
Well, I know where I’m going now. I’m walking into a vast world of sunsets.