Sunsets Along the Parkway
It’s Abbey again, and I had a friend recently tell me that they had never watched the sun set. It was on their to-do list, obviously, they’d just never gotten around to it. It was like I plan to visit all of the 50 States. Well, they plan to see the sunset. Comparable lists, right?
I grew up in a household where my dad would yell, “Sunset alert!” every night when the sky began to burn, my grandfather’s favorite color was sky-blue-pink (you know it [or do you?]; it’s the pink/blue/purple hues the sky turns during some sunsets), and I used to daydream about holding God’s paintbrush and making my own entirely original scene. I’ve always been exposed to sunsets and encouraged to appreciate them, so the idea of not stopping to admire one, not having that urge to find a view to see one, or not understanding the point in driving an hour in order to sit, be still, and watch what God will do in tonight’s sky away from the hustle and bustle of normality–at least once in your life–is surreal to me.
Now, I don’t mean to type up some hippy post about good vibes and nature appreciation (though I totally could), I’m just wondering…how much time do you spend thankful? By “you” I obviously mean “me,” which doesn’t make this post into a jab against your conscience to encourage gratefulness, but rather an exploration of my tendencies and a move toward correction.
You ever meet those people that love life? The ones that appreciate fresh air, eat good food, have pleasant stories, care about deep things, adopt genuineness, and are somehow always content?
Simply, the word “content” can be defined as, “a state of peaceful happiness,” and it’s an elusive wonder I’ve spent the majority of my life missing.
How can you be peaceful when there’s war on the news?
How can you be happy when your bank account doesn’t have enough zeros?
How can you find contentment when you’re obsessed with productivity, popularity, or success, and a single lacking moment spins you into a frenzy, grasping at some kind of worth?
Contentment is something I’ve adopted for only a few fleeting moments in my life. The remainder of my hours have been spent in some good-looking version of it, or in unsatisfying efforts meant to achieve the adornments of life I find oh-so-attractive. Everyone has their inclinations–the weaknesses that make them human and hideous–which is what makes stumbling across true contentment such a rare and beautiful occurrence.
There’s something clean about thankfulness. There’s something weightless about satisfaction. A grateful life is so incredibly rare because we’re all interested in what we almost have, or that that’s years of hard work away–and I am the guiltiest egoistic of any.
I understand wanting nice clothes, fancy food, and the coveted job, but wouldn’t you rather a thankful life? Isn’t peace worth more than envy?
I don’t mean you should worship nirvana or continuously empty your gas tank searching for the perfect perch from which to view a beautiful day. I just mean that when you find thanklessness is poisoning your life, understand that you are capable of putting a stop to that. When bitterness distracts you from joy, resist it and remember that nothing in life is promised to you for keeps. Each sun that sets could very well be your last. Why waste your days as an ingrate?
Frederick Koenig (inventor of the high-speed steam-engine printing press) once said,
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
I’m not saying you should appreciate the sunset because it’s a waste of time not to, or because you’re a terrible person if you don’t. I’m just saying, why not enjoy what you have, things far more complicated and much simpler than the color of the sky? Rather than stewing in the bile of your own dissatisfaction, why not stand and acknowledge the things you have that make your life yours? Don’t you want a thankful life? Well, it’s a choice, you know.
On a side (and utterly pointless) note, I made friends with this dog when I was searching for an empty overlook along the Parkway. She wanted to get in my car and I thought that was fine (spoiler alert: her owner didn’t think it was fine).
I don’t usually care about dogs until they behave themselves and care about me first. She sat when I told her to sit, came when I called, and after that, I was hooked.
WCW to you, pooch.