My favorite thing

There is one thing that I can trust to happen every day. No matter if it was a good or bad day, a busy or quiet day, a slow or exciting day, I can trust that the sun will rise, and thus, the sun will set.

When I was seven, sunset would determine my hours of play — allowing me to run, jump and skip late into the summer night. The rising sun would also be my companion as I prepared for my high school’s 7:15 a.m. start time. In the winter, its rising presence would tell me when I needed to get in the car or else I would be late.

I have always taken notice of these moments. A palette of colors flooding the sky and leaving, signaling the start or the end of the day.

During days lacking “to-do lists” and obligations, I look forward to watching the day fade into night. At the first sign of sunset, I’ll station myself with a nice view of the sky and watch and think. Or not think at all. 

sunsets and favorite things
The silhouette of a person in front of a sunset. Reflecting on her favorite things, Bailey Clark shares her appreciation for sunsets and how they are an everyday reminder of comfort and excitement. COURTESY OF JAD LIMCACO VIA UNSPLASH

On days where free time seems non-existent  and my schedule is never-ending, the sunset is the best surprise ever. Whether I catch it through a window or I see it sneak up on me during a walk to my next task, I still find myself taking a moment just to admire it. 

To my loved ones’ irritation, I love asking questions that no one has a prepared answer to. And I am never satisfied with the initial answer — I crave more details and specifics, so I can truly understand the moment or feeling they are explaining to me. 

A question I come back to again and again is — “What are your favorite things?” And I’m not talking about generic answers like friends, family and pets — I already know that. When I ask this question, I am looking for something that my question-receiving-victim feels only they can answer.

Being the bold instigator of such a conversation, I have come to a few conclusions on what I consider to be my favorite things. At the top of my list? Seeing the sunset in my rear view mirrors while driving. I love how it catches my eye when I’m about to switch lanes. Every second after that feels fleeting — like I might miss the best sunset yet. 

For whatever reason, when I catch sight of a sunset — at 4 p.m. in the dead of winter or 8 p.m. in the middle of summer — I am conditioned to appreciate its colors, the day I just had or the night ahead.

Whether I watch for the full duration or I just stare for a minute or so, it is a moment I have every single day. A moment of gratitude and reflection, and a moment to myself.

Over the years of asking about other people’s favorites, I have acquired quite a list of my own beyond just driving at dusk with the sun setting behind me.

I love the moments after snowfall, when the snow is completely untouched. I love waking up early in the morning without an alarm clock when it feels like a personal achievement. I love the way the world looks after rainfall — especially after a summer shower. 

A similar feeling of appreciative contemplation arises when these moments occur as I know they don’t happen everyday. But that’s the special thing about sunsets to me — they do happen every day, yet I appreciate them just as much.

It’s like having a reminder to check in with yourself built into the sky, one you can’t snooze or skip. And when the sun is set, and the oranges and pinks and yellows fade away, there is a comfort and an excitement that I get to have this moment again tomorrow. 

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