Driving East at Sunset

Yesterday’s post, which was full of pictures, seems to have gotten caught in the mysterious land of ones and zeros that lies somewhere between my iPhone and this blog. So until I can figure out how to retrieve it, we’ll all just have to imagine that it exists. You can pretend for a little while, right?

Today, we drove home and watched as the sun went from beating directly overhead to setting at our backs, as our small silver Prius raced forward into the darkness and towards home.

At first, I thought it incredibly sad that we were running away from the light, that there was perhaps some tragic metaphor about losing something as we travelled home, but as the hours dragged on, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing remotely negative about heading into darkness.

After all, isn’t that what most of life is: racing forward into the unseeable unknown? We have our comfortable habits, the way we always like to do certain tasks, but even in our routines, there is an element of uncertainty.

When I ride my bike, I travel the same route, at the same time, three times a week, fifty two weeks a year, for exactly 5.32 miles. And yet, each time I set out, something different happens.

Sometimes the chain pops off, sometimes a bus decides to nearly run me over when I legally have the right of way, sometimes I get distracted by cats and crash into stationary objects. When I leave the house in the morning, I don’t even know if I’ll make it back alive or unhurt, as small as those possibilities might be. I may be caught up in a familiar pattern, but there is nothing guaranteed about the results at all.

And a large and a little cynical part of me doesn’t understand why we choose the rising sun, the beginning of daylight, as a symbol of hope and renewal. Time exists as a circle and has no end or starting point. We got to make them up. So why didn’t we choose sunset and darkness as the beginning? Why is January the first month of the year?

I continued staring out of the window, counting down the hours until I could crawl into bed and write in my journal, trying to convince myself that it wasn’t stupid, juvenile, or ridiculous to think about the metaphorical significance of traveling east at sunset. And soon the sky turned from purple to plum to navy, the stars began to appear, tiny pinpricks of bright white, and I went back to watching the speedometer, lulled into an almost meditative quiet by the rabidly changing numbers on the digital display.

In other news, sleeping in the bathtub isn’t all that bad if you’ve got a pillow and a blanket, and you somehow decided that it would be a good location to sleep when you woke up at three in the morning. (I spend a ridiculous amount of time sleeping in the bathroom when I shouldn’t. It’s quite strange, and I’m not sure why I seem to do it with such regularity. My bath mat and I seem to hang out together for a few minutes in the morning several times a week.)

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6 thoughts on “Driving East at Sunset

  1. I apologize for being such a pedant today, but I believe the numbers are “rapidly” changing. I’ll make it up to you with some music in a few days.

  2. January is the first month of the year for the same reason midnight is the separation between two days – it is a relatively idle time. In an agricultural society, of the 4 astronomical events in a year – the two solstices and the two equinoxes, the winter solstice is the one where people are less busy, so it is a good dividing line between ‘this year’ and ‘last year’

    I’ll admit that when in school, the natural time to split a year is the summer. And astonomers used to split the day at noon until very recently.

  3. Pingback: Ella and College Part a Million | Eleanor Called Ella

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