I see lots of sunset pictures out there, and from experience, I know none of them measure up to the real thing. None of them can compare to the actual sunset on the day that inspired us to grab our cameras or our phones and attempt to capture for memory and for sharing this sight before us that we don’t want to forget. So why do we keeping trying? Why do I, upon noticing the light, that other-worldly shade that is different somehow, race from the house with my camera and look to the west, knowing that if I snap away madly for the next five minutes while the colors change before my eyes, I still will not succeed in producing an accurate copy of this crazy art?
I have a theory. It isn’t scientific, hasn’t been arrived at via polls or data collecting. This is a theory based on my own life.
The theory is that a sunset provides a moment to breathe. It causes me to stop my frantic doing and just be. It calls out from the depths of my soul a sigh of worship. It lures me outside my dwelling to the fresh air, with shades of light and color that I cannot stay inside and ignore. It lifts my head upward, turning my focus in a new direction, forcing me to take in the Big Picture of the whole sweeping landscape of sky and silhouetted mountains and the black, back-lit branches of the trees. It redirects wherever I had been headed before the moment when I realized the explosion of creativity happening all around and above me.
The sunset adds beauty in a world so desperately needing it. It reminds me that in spite of every ugly, difficult thing that happened today, every bit of bad news, every disappointing development… there is still unspeakable beauty, free, for the looking. That someone big enough to put those colors there is still watching over me, still giving gifts, still involved with us on this planet. It sneaks into the cracks of my heart and soaks into the dry places and fills it to overflowing with awe and wonder. It makes my fingers tingle with a reflected desire to do some creating myself, to make my mark and add my colors, and bask in the glory of a master painter’s work.
So I grab my camera, because anything that summons this feeling inside is something I never want to forget. No matter that I can’t exactly capture it, the feeling remains. Looking at the photos later, that same wonder is recalled and I think, Wow, was it really as gorgeous as I remember? Was the light really that yellow and that warm? And look at how the clouds are making that interesting contrast. And yes, in spite of the picture not accurately reproducing the same sunset, the feelings can be the same, the memory of that moment when my day paused, when I stepped outside for an art show beyond words, when I felt the weight lift and my whole being take a moment to breathe.
And that is my theory of why we take pictures of sunsets.
By the way, all these were shot last night, and I’m sharing them here, with no editing at all beyond adding my watermark. This is the glory of my view at sunset.