“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” - Albert Einstein
My favorite time of the day is twilight.
The early morning sun transforming the shadows into colors. Birds chirping reminders that the time for sleep is over. Each moment bringing more activity and interaction into our lives as the dawn becomes day.
Dusk has its own claim on our senses. The purple hues of the setting sun transform the sky into a tapestry. The silent moon and stars begin their patrol through the heavens. The air chills, adding to the romance of the moment.
Each twilight carries their own traditions. Walking as the sun rises makes me feel like I’m part of the awakening taking place around me. Sunset means stillness, sitting silently on the beach, being reminded of my smallness in the vastness of the universe.
Of course, I don’t get to enjoy these moments every day. Work, travel and weather often conspire to deny me the opportunity to partake in the beauty of nature. That’s why when the occasion arises to be present for these displays of beauty, I appreciate every second.
That’s the moral of this story – to appreciate the brief glimpses of the marvels around us. A reminder that nature isn’t something outside us, but that we're something in nature. Even more importantly, we're of nature.
We construct clothes and buildings to protect ourselves from the elements. We use technology to transport physical goods and digital ideas across the globe. We share computer-generated images and use artificial intelligence to analyze complex problems.
Yet when compared to the natural world, we’re toddlers building sandcastles on the beach. At this point, you may expect me to point out the power of nature. Instead I invite you to consider the power of the beauty of nature.
Sit on a bench in the middle of a flower garden. Breathe in the multiple fragrances that perfume makers attempt to replicate in their labs. Stare into the colors that painters try to bring to life in their work. Listen to the birds whose music has inspired us since time immemorial.
If there’s no garden nearby, find a tree or shrub. These wonderful plants are complex microcosms. Follow the roots to the trunk. Look at the trails and marks left by the multitude of animals and insects. Follow the trunk to the branches and the leaves. Ponder for a moment – the trunk transports just enough water to feed the leaves. The leaves transform sunlight to chlorophyll and carbon dioxide to oxygen. Physical beauty and scientific wonder converge to amaze us.
Perhaps you’re stuck in a city with a scarcity of flowers, trees or any green plants. Find an unobstructed view of the sky. Wake early and look east. Watch our life-giving star make her appearance in the morning. More than 90 million miles away, its brilliance can cut through our cluttered minds. Our inner poets are awakened.
Be still. Be present. Be in wonder and awe.