BY COLTON SMITH
I decided to take a road trip – leaving on Easter morning. So my brother, pup and I set our course to Rocky Mountain National Park. Of course, my choice to spend Easter Sunday on the road seemed perplexing to some, but I knew there was no better way to spend the day. The last couple of years, I’ve basically lived on the road, and as a result, I’ve learned that every stop may lend itself to something spectacular.
This time I wanted our way-points to allow for just that - something spectacular. We stayed our first night in Wall, South Dakota right outside of Badlands National Park. The next morning, I woke my brother and the pup, and we piled into the Outback at 5:00 am, with our destination…The Badlands. Needless to say, my brother wasn’t thrilled with the early wake up call. I knew, however, we were about to bear witness to what I see as one of God’s miracles - a miracle that is too often overlooked. We arrived at the park, just in time for the sunrise.
There’s beauty found in nature that at times almost can’t be explained. Every national park I visit leaves me with a moment. One of those moments where the lighting is just right, the noise around you seems to cease, and the earth just seems to stand still. For maybe only a few seconds, nothing else matters, nothing but soaking in the immense beauty around you. I live for those moments, and I always find them in a similar spot. When the sun rises and sets.
I believe in God, and I see his presence most during those two distinct times each day. Whatever you may believe in, I think most would agree there’s just something magical about the sunrise and sunset. Its glow captures us. I don’t think it is coincidence that our days begin and end with an incredible display of light and color. To me, within that magnetic beauty, I see something deeper.
I see the sunrise as a reminder that every day is a gift. When that first ounce of light illuminates the sky, it’s hard not to smile and feel that this day is going to be special. It brings with it a profound sense of optimism, when the first thing I lay my eyes on is this magnificent; I think to myself, “What else might this day bring?” In the same breath it invigorates us, filling us with life. Before the day truly begins, we’re given the opportunity to find one of those moments. Each morning, we have a chance to take a deep breath and realize the beauty this world has to offer.
We can choose to treat each new day as though the next is not promised, vowing to ourselves that today is the day I will live life to its utmost potential. Or we can go through the motions, hoping that maybe a better day will come. I try and make it a point to watch the sunrise, and every time I do, the answer to that question is right there in front of me.
As the sun sets, a similar symphony is orchestrated, but with a few different notes. In the sunset, I see the same elements of optimism and thankfulness, but rather than a reminder; a question. Did I live today to its maximum potential? Did I treat today as if it was a gift; pursuing what makes me happy, or did I let another pass by, never to be recaptured? Within the sunset lies a message – whatever your answer might be; it’s going to be okay.
Everyday doesn’t go according to plan. Maybe today I came up short, taking the day for granted. No matter how hard we try, it happens. The way we become trapped is when we refuse to acknowledge our shortcomings. I realize that I am far from perfect. When I stumble, I write it down and ask myself why. What lead me to trip, and then I constantly remind myself to make certain I don’t make the same mistake again. Every day is a blessing; the sun rising and setting reminds me of that. Excuses as to why we don’t also treat our days as blessings fall on deaf ears. I think the more we watch the sun awaken and fall asleep, the less likely we are to let a day pass by in which we are not thankful. If, however, the day does slip away, we may be fortunate enough to see the first light of that next day, and so with it, renewed hope, a chance to correct our mistakes, and another opportunity to live life to the fullest.