There’s a ritual that happens every evening in Waikiki. When the sun begins to set, everything seems to slow down. People move outside. They gravitate to the beach, or a deck with a view. They pad through the shifting sand to the water’s edge or the end of a pier, watching and waiting for the sun to put on its nightly show. All the activity of the entire day has been building to this moment.
The sun is about to paint the sky.
Children continue to splash in the shallow waves, oblivious, while adults stand mesmerized by the setting of the sun, as if the sunset were an eclipse or a comet or some other event that doesn’t happen every single day of our lives. In a way, it is. So many of us don’t have time in our busy days to stop and enjoy such a simple thing as the beauty of a sunset.
Or perhaps we’re simply in the wrong place at the wrong time at sunset most days–surrounded by skyscrapers or trees or four walls without windows. Maybe it’s just that most of us don’t live next to a beautiful ocean facing west.
I loved this nightly ritual. This is what vacation–if not life–should always be like. Not as busy as our everyday lives, not the constant rushing around from one task to another, but slowing down to see–to really see and absorb–the beauty in the world around us.
If travel does nothing else, its unfamiliar landscapes reminds us to see things through different eyes. At home, we all have our routines and our familiar surroundings that, after awhile, we don’t notice any more because they’re always there. Being “away” reminds us that there are other ways to spend our days, that life doesn’t always have to be fast-paced, and that sunsets are precious things to stop and savor.
When was the last time you stopped what you were doing to watch the sun set? If you can’t remember, then it’s time you did it again.