#30: Watch the sunrise and sunset on the longest day of the year

I honestly don’t remember when I first fell in love with sunrises and sunsets.  I sort of thought the feeling had always been there but actually, when I dived into it, curious about where it all started, I realised that I don’t really remember seeing them as a child at home or on family holidays at all.

I think perhaps the first time I noticed the changing colours of the sky (and I mean TRULY noticed them and gave them meaning and significance) was when I was travelling around Australia aged 19/20 years old.  That year-long trip was a reward to myself after having been seriously ill for the previous two years – it felt like an achievement to be alive and I was determined to make the most of every single minute.

There are two moments in particular that I remember most vividly.

The first was on Frasier Island on the east coast of Australia where I was camping with a tour group.  I’d woken early, listened to the waves for a while and then decided to get up to watch the sunrise because, well, why not?  The rest of the group I was with were still snoring softly, sleeping off the hangovers from the previous night’s escapades.  I don’t drink and so, clear-headed and wide awake, I crept out of my sleeping bag, grabbed a breakfast bar from the depths of my rucksack, and snuck away, leaving the cluster of tents huddled beyond the sand dunes behind me.  I settled down on the beach to watch the sun show her face over the ocean and it felt like I was the only soul alive on the planet.

The second was watching the sunset at Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), right in the remote centre of Australia.  I’d never seen anything like it before: the shifting colours and changes in the dancing  of the light as the minutes passed by – seemingly at lightspeed and somehow also suspended in time all at once.  It was magical to witness and I was utterly transfixed, unable to take my eyes away from the wonder of it all.  It’s a memory that will stay with me forever.

From those moments onwards I’ve been captivated.  Every sunrise feels like a vital reminder to live my life fully, another opportunity to be amazed and another chance to be the best version of myself I can be.  And every sunset lets me know that I’ve made it through another day, that I’ve been lucky enough to have had that time with the people I love, a reminder to reflect and be grateful.

May every sunrise hold more promise, may every sunset hold more peace

Don’t get me wrong – I find the monthly cycles of the moon to be absolutely fascinating too.  The ebb and flow; the waxing and waning; how it connects to gravity and grounding; the influence that it has on the waves and our feminine cycles… but something in me is drawn so much more to the sun.  I joke with my family that I am solar-powered but deep down I’m not really joking – I NEED the sun.  It makes me feel alive and watching it follow it’s reassuring rhythm every morning and evening has become a ritual that is extremely important to me.

Sunrises and sunsets are something I now document in my annual ‘Year In Numbers‘ blog posts.  There is something just so beautiful about them.  They’re intimate. Private. Personal. Emotional. Quiet. Peaceful.  I love that every single one is completely different from the one before – they’re infinitely unique.

I’m eager to learn more about the solstices and equinoxes.  I want to understand their meanings and what they represent.  The Summer Solstice in particular intrigues me – all those extra hours of daylight and so many possibilities for how to make the most of them.  Perhaps it’s all part of the pull I feel to embrace my hippie side more, perhaps it’s a culmination of little influences from people I’ve been connected to and books I’ve read over the years, or perhaps it’s something else entirely.  But it’s there: a desire to reconnect to the very core of what makes our world keep on turning.

I’ve been trying to catch both the sunrise and the sunset on the longest day for years and years, for far longer than it’s been on my list of ‘40 Things Before I’m 40‘.  Usually only one shows up in all it’s glory whilst the other remains a flat, dull colour or hides behind a veil of rain.  This year, 2020, is the first time since I began watching that both the sunrise and sunset have painted the sky in their true colours.  Considering what a surreal year this has been with the global coronavirus pandemic – something (nature?  The universe?) trying to tell us that we need to completely reset everything – the significance of that is not lost on me.

Part of me wishes that I was somewhere ‘special’ to watch the summer solstice sunrise and sunset (by the ocean perhaps) but actually I think that home was the perfect place to be.  They were worth the wait and I’m really happy that I’m now able to tick this one off of my list.



Sunrise on the Summer Solstice, 2020

It was sunsets that taught me that beauty only lasts for a couple of moments. And it was sunsets that showed me that all it takes is patience to experience it all over again ~ A J Lawless


Summer Solstice sunset, 2020

Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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