Chasing sunsets and finding peace

For the past couple of weeks, I have tried to go outside as often as possible to watch the sunset. I initially thought that I just wanted to observe the sky change color – from blue to yellow to orange and pink – as the sun inched its way down the sky. What I realized, however, after going out a couple of evenings in a row was that the sunsets were allowing me to be more present. I was able to enjoy a peaceful moment in which I truly appreciated not just the day, but also my life and where it had brought me.

Living in Florence :: Chasing sunsets and finding peace

I initially thought that the sunset alone was the gift. Every evening as I stood on a ponte (bridge) or above the city, I was amazed by the mix of colors in the sky, the formation of the clouds above my head, the boats floating by in the Arno below, and the reflections of the buildings on the river. The beauty of each sunset seeped into my heart and filled me with joy.

I tried to pick a different spot every night to watch the sunset. If I had a lot of time, I trekked up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. Otherwise, I would go to one of the ponti, like Ponte alle Grazie, Ponte Vecchio (where I took the photo above), Ponte Santa Trinita, and Ponte alla Carraia.

No matter where I went, I always did the same thing: I found a good spot to stand (usually in the center), faced west, and soaked up the entire view before me. I tried my best to arrive early so I could stand there for at least a half hour as the sun disappeared behind the low mountains to the west, gradually changing the colors in the sky. While I stood in silence, I felt the effect of the sunset on me. I too began to feel more serene and was able to let my mind wander. As I paused to enjoy the beauty of the sunset, I felt a strong sense of gratefulness. I spontaneously began listing off everything that I was appreciative for in my mind. The longer I stood there, the longer the list became. I couldn’t help but feel joy.

After initially just wanting to observe the sunset every day, I began to look forward to that moment when I would just pause and breathe in my beloved city’s beauty before it went to sleep. Celebrating the end of the day became a ritual for me that I now look forward to. I celebrate the beginning of the day and now also the end of the day. We generally celebrate beginnings more, but maybe we should celebrate endings because without them there can’t be any new beginnings.

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