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Wasted sunset

I wasted a sunset today. Let me tell you how it happened.

I was on my way home from work, tired from all the negotiations with life, and in a rush to get home to finish the remaining work requirements and prepare my lessons for tomorrow. Sometimes I wonder why life should be hard. But sometimes, too, it amazes me how life has its way of compensating for the things it takes away from you. Sometimes it brings your way something unexpected and beautiful—something that would remind you of who you are and how you were and bring you back to that person. Then you wish that time would stop for you and allow you to stay in that moment. I was about to have one.

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While lost in my thoughts in a motorcycle ride, I saw the late afternoon sky in front of me smoldering. It looked like a crumpled piece of paper smudged with yellow and orange paint—so soft and burning at the same time. When I looked to my left, I saw the sun on its way down to the horizon. It was a wonderful sun: a piece of lemon slowly sinking behind the very fine outline of the faraway green rice fields.

Today, the sky did not fail to surprise me. It was so beautiful—like a dream. I wondered how God made all that. I remembered the painting of a sunset over a harbor that I once saw in the library of a certain university during my thesis-writing days. It was titled “Amber.” I did not realize then that a painting could be reality.

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I felt an urge to stop and just stare at the sunset, to just enjoy that superb visual delight that was God’s masterpiece of the day. But responsibilities were waiting. I wanted to stop, but I could not stop time, and I sure could not stop either.

So I continued on my way and wasted the sunset.

As I passed near the bend, I noticed a car going in the opposite direction. It stopped, and the windows were rolled down. A man was in the driver’s seat and maybe those were his kids behind him. He raised a camera and took a shot of the sunset. On one hand, I felt glad that there were people who would stop to take notice of that piece of beauty, and immortalize it in a photograph. On the other, I felt a twinge of envy.

So time went by, as in every single day. It was another long day. By the time I got home, the lemony sunset was gone. But that sunset and the realization that came with it stayed with me. As I opened my lesson book, I pondered on what life had become for me. I realized that books and my current work had been consuming me and making me miss some wonderful things. I had lost touch with the part of me that is connected to God’s daily work of art. I remembered that I used to spend hours finding creatures in cloud formations. I used to listen to the chirping of the birds during nap times. I used to observe the tall grasses swaying in the wind like fingers. I used to listen to the sound of the crickets as they rested with the afternoon sun. I used to do a lot of simple things that brought me simple but pure pleasure. My concerns had disconnected me from my sensitivity—a very sad thing.

There is a line in a film that encapsulates my experience today: that beauty and wonder are hidden in the seconds of our life, and if we do not stop and take a break from the rush of life, we would just miss them.

I told my friends, Alpha and Cathy, on Messenger that I wasted a sunset today. Their replies were simple yet enlightening. Alpha said: “Things come and go in a twinkling of an eye, seize every opportunity.” And Cathy said: “Don’t waste it tomorrow.”

Benjamin Manantan Sabado, 22, is a new graduate of and now works as an English instructor at the Pangasinan State University–Urdaneta City.

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