Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Do You Look for in a Sunset?

What do you look for in a sunset?

For that matter,what do you look for in a musical composition you've heard before upwards of hundreds of times.

While you're at it, what do you look for in a paragraph--your own or someone else's?

To carry the matter of such focus from the abstract and to natural phenomena such as sunsets, what do you look for in a person, in a character, a novel, or short story?

There are times during various of your moods when you might launch into philosophical or psychological improvisations, being as expansive and yet as literal as possible, all in the hopes of explaining to yourself with as much specificity as possible how the universe works.

Of course that means how the universe appears to work for you because, as you have discovered from your own observations and study, the universe works pretty much as it ought, whether you understand it or not, even to the point where it has little or no stake in how accurate or off you are in your investigations.  You are also curious and, yes, opinionated about the human condition plays out for you, as evidenced by the things you have to date written about, the things you've read about them, and your various experiences with each.

You're curious about each, about the workings of the universe and the off ramps and roundabouts of your species, so much so that you have a basis of belief systems relative to each.  You also have a staggering sense of how little your knowledge of each is in relationship to available information.  This awareness of your own informational shortcoming keeps you moving, keeps you in a metaphorical sense returning to the gym, doing one more set of repetitions.

You look for colors, shapes, and settings relative to settings of the sun.  You enjoy the game of guessing which colors will appear and which will not, how long the light from the setting sun will make outlines and shapes visible, what the birds are who seem to enjoy serenading the setting sun, or perhaps they are grousing over the fact that they now have to continue foraging for their supper in the dark.

You've tried watching sunsets with company and alone, finding virtues in each.  The presence of another person, particularly one who notices things you don't, makes sunsets with company meaningful in the sense that it speaks to your outward curiosity rather than your watching-the-sun-set-alone tendency to reflections on existential questions including those for which ready information is not possible.

You were told at various times of your life that as an infant, you were pushed along the Santa Monica Palisades to many a sunset, perhaps influencing your current pleasure for observation of sunsets.  You have long since tried and given up attempting to retrieve a valid memory, this in the belief that there is more to learn from contemporary sunsets than from those that have come and gone, like a modest performer refusing an encore.

Listening to music, you often hear nuances you'd not heard before, seen qualities you hadn't noticed, felt emotions evoked within you that you'd not previously associated with that piece.  Sometimes you look for solace or comfort or excitement or energy.  Other times, using language you most often reserve for writing, you understand substantive things the music does without seeming to point to itself, then imply some prize for your recognition is deserved.

You experience comfort in the sense of your approach toward looking for meanings and connections in persons, places, and things.  Although you don't always find the emotional denominator you seek, you do meet some degree of satisfaction in the answers you are able to extract, as though, with some effort on your part of course, the universe and its denizens are willing to share with you--to a point.

Although you're pretty sure there'll be a sunset tomorrow, you might not be there to see it.  Sometimes photos of the sunset help, in a sense like those notes that always awaited you when you worked in publishing and were forced to leave the office.  They were called "While-You-Were-Out" notes.  More than one receptionist has told you that of all previous employers, yours were always the most interesting and quirky.

This is because while you were in fact out, you were looking for such things as sunsets to watch.  If you look for a thing long enough, you will find it.

The thing you seek and, ultimately find, may well have undergone some experiences of its own so that it has changed by the time you find it.  You may not recognize it, another way of saying that irony has won its arm wrestle with you.  Supper does not look like supper.  A book does not appear to be the book you hoped.  Love, which already has a plenitude of appearances, may appear but it may not be free and clear any more than ideas which seem so murky at first blush or so colored with mystery that you have to wait and watch.

The thing you look for in all the things you've mentioned here is surprise.  Sometimes, even in sunsets, the thing you look for taps you on the shoulder, catches your eye.  "You probably have no idea who I am or why I'm approaching you,"  the thing says, "and if we're to have any relationship at all, let's promise we will go well out of our way to provide surprise, of course where it is least expected.

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