11/52: Cycles & Sublime

Mar 23, 2017 (For week of Mar 13)

Our hearts beat every second or so, again and again, but those microscopic loops are unraveled to become a line connecting the previous moment and the next, making a minute, an hour, a day. From the moment we regain consciousness, up to the moment we drift off to sleep - day after day - we slowly crawl forward from one time unit to the next. Our clocks are circular, perhaps only because it is more mechanically efficient to make them so, since for us, passage of time through life itself is a journey with a well-defined direction - forward. If we ever come to know the time of our own demise, or that of our universe, we will start making clocks that count up, or down, towards it; I am sure of it.

The day starts and ends with sunrise and sunset, and in between them, a day becomes a dot in the line connecting months, years. Somehow, we've done an remarkable job in unfolding cyclic and non-linear processes into a line - such is the curse of time moving forward, or rather, of how we experience it. But when I stop to experience the day at these most crucial moments, moments separating day and night, one dot from the next, time itself seems to suddenly fill with material, the moment becomes palpable - sublime - out of thin air. In these brief seconds before the sun falls below the horizon, the sky explodes with what seems to me like the set of all possible colors, and a paradox. The paradox is that while the moment itself being so brief, when measured by the turning across equidistant ticks in our machines, it has never failed to feel like an eternity. I'm never sure of the theatrics that I'm watching (or participating in?), or what exactly I'm anticipating, but I'm anticipating something. Am I rooting for the immaculately shaped fireball to disappear, or to stay? When it does quietly sneak away, though, I feel an even stranger sense of satisfaction, as if I've experienced the most climatic finale of a heroic tale. The story ends, and starts again tomorrow.

I don't do this often, but being on the edge of the continent overlooking the Pacific is a privilege I have learned to not take for granted. But it was only until very recently did I witness the opposite: the sun peeking through the emerald surfaces of the Caribbean Sea. Actually, it is the moment itself that gives the sea its crystalline turquoise. The upside-down birth of the sun itself gives birth to all that we see. More, in fact, as the golden threads weaving these clouds only reveal themselves for this tiny moment, and then they disappear.

And it was in that moment I realized that the story never ends: whenever and wherever there is a sunset, there is always a sunrise at that exact same instant for someone else on this Earth. There is no beginning nor end, yet it always tells a story. Or rather, we always tell a story about it.