Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Sunrise or Sunset?

Everyone likes a good sunrise or sunset, but people definitely fall into two different camps on these events. Most folks prefer sunsets to sunrises. I’ve talked to quite a few and they tell me that the reason for their preference is because the colors are generally better. And that’s true.

But they also like to see the colors slowly fade to black – a normal sky gradually coloring with golds and oranges and reds finally overcome by gray and then charcoal – the end to another day, a chance to wind down from the stressors and demands of friends, family and job.

Watching the sun set seems like a perfect way to move from activity to quietude. Days of hustle and bustle give way to nights of relaxation, as the mind numbs itself looking at the pretty colors, anesthetizing the brain without having to resort to alcohol, although alcohol helps.

Sunrises, on the other hand, are about the transition from stillness to motion, from the unseen to the seen. And I defy anyone to insist that sunsets are the prettier event after witnessing an Arizona sunrise with the mountains in the distance reflecting the morning star’s rays.

A good sunrise helps prepare one for the day, for the challenges to come, for the frenetic pace that inevitably will follow breakfast. Before the kids are up, before the office calls, before the mind opens fully to the myriad requirements on one’s time, just sitting in a chair and staring at the waking world leads one to marvel at the possibility inherent in every moment.

I think the reason most people prefer sunsets is because of the lifestyle we lead. We’re often, at least in the cities, still asleep when the sun rises, except in winter. During winter we’re in the office or at school, so it’s easy to miss the colorful palette that dances outside our windows.

Sunsets, however, generally occur after we’re home and before we retire for the evening. They strike when we’re best able to appreciate them. That gives us a greater opportunity to notice their beauty.

Even if we’re home for the sunrise, we’re generally getting ready for work, taking a shower, preparing breakfast, getting the kids’ lunches packed, feeding the dog, checking our email for projects that need to be finished today. We’re steeling ourselves for action, uninterested in pausing for even a moment, because we want to hurry on our way, get to work so we complete our tasks as quickly as possible and get back home.

Our society makes it difficult for us to appreciate sunrises in the same way we savor sunsets.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you like sunrises or sunsets more. What matters is that you take the time to linger over them. Not every day. Maybe not even every week, but once in a while. Put down your device, move to a window (or even outside if the weather permits) and, drink in hand or not, simply watch the free slideshow, letting your mind be carried along to serenity.


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