The thing is, I just don’t see the sunrise properly often enough. This plays both for and against it, in the aesthetic and enjoyment stakes. It becomes this desirable and rare process, harder to find, and often representing a particularly exciting activity. I’ll have either been up all night, or have got up ridiculously early. Both of these things can be cause for excitement, if excitement experienced through a fug of tiredness (and other fugs, on occasion). So it has a cachet all its own.
But at the same time, the colours never seem quite as explosive. There’s never quite as much of the sky looking irradiated. Is it just seeing more sunsets that means I’ve seen more of the pretty ones? Or is it just the atmospheric conditions? The tendency of mornings around here to be pasted shut with greyness. Particularly at the time of year the rise is late enough for me.
Sunset sprays colour across the land and sky. Pinks and oranges fill up the gloaming darkness opposite. Watching the darkness creep along the sky from the other horizon. The sun flattening out in the distance, switching colour or just shrinking into sliver. The sudden speed of the last few moments, when you can actually see it disappear (or more often turn your head for a bare instant only to find it gone on return).
But then there’s that odd feeling of the sunrise. A combination of the tired ghostliness of the body, and the inevitability of the spinning around of time. The splash of colour, not yet blinding, on the horizon. The sun roars upwards into a beaming white coin. The flatness of this enormous distant fireball.
The sun is out in space, and we spin around it, and we spin around. The movement is always there, but we notice it best at these praxes. The gap between the day and the night and the night and the day, you get to watch the constant churn of the universe writ large in the sky. Tiny movements generate huge colours.
(In fact, the movements are immense. A whole world spinning around. But let’s not get too bogged down. Appearances are important too, you know, in a way).
Do I look forward more to a new day or a new night? Do I prefer the marking of the end or the beginning, the beginning or the end?
I’m reminded of a story book about two monsters arguing from opposite sides of a mountain about whether night is coming or day is going. Only after hurling enough rocks and insults at each other do they flatten the mountain enough to see each other’s point of view.
There is not a huge difference between the two, on the celestial scale. And perhaps on the metaphor too. We watch one time become another, and we get to gorge on its prettiness as it does so.
Watch the Earth eat the sun, and spit it back out.
The universe is big and moving.
Illustration by Helen