A Way To End All Days

I love sunsets.

My best friend Cecil can definitely attest to this. We have experienced many a setting sun together (and an equal amount of sunrises also) in a few different countries. The sunsets with Cecil I will always remember are the Taj Mahal in India, on the beaches in Koh Samet and Pattaya, Thailand, at Yosemite National Park with our dogs, on the ferry from Sausalito with the Golden Gate between us and the sun and all the ones from our race across northern India in the Rickshaw Run. Other memorable sunsets for me were in Bali on the beach, Lombok watching the sunset drop into the crater of a volcano making it seem as if it were erupting, at the Shangri-La Resort in Boracay, the beach in Arrifana, Portugal, and the Icelandic Horse sunset in Iceland. Not to mention countless ones in Santa Monica and Chicago where I resided over the past 19 years (see my photos from sunsets around the world here). The most beautiful one I have witnessed occurred two months ago in Granada, Spain, and you can read that blog post here

My love for sunsets is likely similar to many others who bathe themselves in this majestic celestial spectacle when afforded the opportunity. For me it has the power to calm, sooth and to quiet my mind. Similar to meditation, it always summons me to focus on what I want for my future but most importantly to reflect on how blessed I am in my life. Blessed that I am fortunate enough to leave my life in America behind, sell practically every material item I owned, packed a bag, reserved a plane ticket and simply vanished. Becoming anonymous in any country around the world I choose to visit. How many of you wish you could do that, if even for a month? I am now 4 1/2 months in to doing just that for a planned eighteen months.

As I write this post, the setting sun is enticing me to become a spectator, partaking in its organized march toward the horizon. I have made this my evening ritual since arriving in Morocco. From here at Blue Waves Surf House in Anza, a place in which I have called home for forty nights, I observe the prodigious sunsets from the rooftop terrace overlooking the ocean. Each sunset and dusk different than the one that preceded it. To me admiring the sunset, no matter where you are in the world, is the best way to reflect on your life, offer gratitude for your blessings and plan a road map for your future. I have been fortunate to witness beautiful sunsets hundreds of times in over 30 countries. At the conclusion of this epic 18-month journey around the world I indeed will have added many more to the list.

In Anza, each day concludes with people arriving on the beach to watch the setting sun. Sunday’s in particular seem to be the day that the entire town meanders down the unpaved dusty pathways leading to the beachfront. I like to believe that they desire to witness together the end to the day as one community. Leaving behind whatever was occupying their life just moments ago their pace effortlessly leading most of them to the sand. Their laughs and conversations barely audible over the sound of the waves and the boys and younger men playing futbol on the beach (at low tide).

Many find comfort on the sand, in their cars or on their motorbikes. Some walk along the moss covered rocks exposed at low tide and simply watch the action on the makeshift futbol fields. They come to give praise and thanks to Allah for a life lived to see the conclusion to another day. It seems there is neither a rush in their steps nor a burden carried on their shoulders. They gather to relish the simple joy of a simple life in a simple daily occurrence. Yes, it’s the simple things in life that are most appreciated. At least that is what I believe.

Bochayb (real name is Med), who has become a reliable friend of mine, makes this walk each day to view the setting sun. I see him, he sees me. We share a large smile, a thumbs up and a wave. His hand then moves over his chest as he leans forward in a slight laugh. One thing about Bochayb, besides being an amazing Tajine cook, is he has an infectious smile and is seemingly always laughing. He speaks no English. I speak little to no French or Arabic. But it’s at sunset and in the moment I described above in which words are not needed. The only communication shared and often is its best translator, is the nonverbal kind. In those brief moments and small gestures we each express an ocean full of love, appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness. We understand the blessing that is life and how all of ours in someway are connected. As I watch Bochayb’s end of the day routine, and that of the others here in Anza, it’s hard not to wonder why so many of us don’t end our day with reflection and appreciation. We mostly hurry through our day. And when we get home, we get the kids fed and off to bed, and then most of us either sit in front of a computer to check our social media sites seeing how many ‘likes’ or comments we received on a post, or we pick up the remote and mind-numbingly flip through channels. All of which simply pass the time before we, ourselves, make our way to bed. Never stopping to reflect on what it was to be thankful for on that day, or in our lives for that matter.

I am sure that there will be days in the future when I will return to this type of hurried and mindless routine to close the day. But when I do I will immediately think back to the many ‘sunsets’ I have witnessed on this epic journey called ‘life’. Sunsets like these here in Morocco and other parts of the world I have visited, alone or with friends, or at places I called home in the US, will help me reflect and give thanks for the infinite amount of blessings I have enjoyed and do enjoy in my own life. I will reconstitute myself and close out my future days in thanksgiving to God for the blessings He has given to me.

My desire for any of you reading this is to make a point tonight or tomorrow (if the sun has already set where you are) to find a quiet place near your home, in your front/back yard or wherever you find peace and quiet outdoors and watch the sunset. Reflect on your life, where you have come from, all that you have accomplished, the friends and family you have that surround and support you and how blessed you are. Give thanks and offer your appreciation to the heavens for granting you a life of abundance. Tell those close to you that you love them. Tomorrow’s sunset isn’t promised to you so begin living, loving and giving thanks today.

Each breath, every day a blessing,
A present we’re often unworthy to accept.
But open your eyes, smile and in thanksgiving,
Conclude days in gratitude and none with regret.

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