From "Life Can Be This Good" with permission of Red Wheel/Weiser.

For my money, a good sunset is the cheapest shot of wonder out there. Think of it--bursts of incandescent energy that can curl your toes, warm your soul, and prove cost effective all at the same time. The iciest hearts on the planet can be thawed by the heaven’s burnished flame. Countries sitting down for peace talks ought to begin with a joint viewing of rose-dipped hues and golden halos merging into growing flowers of light. And for romance, this daily dose of celestial seduction is just what the love doctor ordered.

I remember as a teenager getting the notion that girls liked being kissed at sunset. My teenage girlfriends were part of my research. I was sure no one else was on to it and that this part of my repertoire would single me out for glory. I couldn’t miss. The way I figured, a sunset occurs when heaven and earth kiss. It was God’s way of telling us to do the same.

I imagined every girl I kissed in this revolutionary manner would quite naturally spread the revelation. I was soon disappointed, though; my reputation failed to grow exponentially.

More recently, when first meeting the incredible woman who is now my wife, I quickly caught what Bonnie was about when I asked the age-worn question, “So, what do you do?”

“I chase sunsets,” she replied. I was a goner. I’m not sure if that was the exact moment when I fell in love, but it was, at least, the start of my descent.

Cut to our honeymoon and one of my favorite settings in the world--Ireland, the Emerald Isle. One day we were traveling from the city of Galway, thrilling to the western coast of this beautiful and mist-shrouded country, toward the much-heralded Ring of Kerry.

Late in the afternoon we discovered that a boat up ahead could ferry us across a tributary and save some four hours’ driving time. I made for the last launch, a mere ten minutes and eighteen kilometers away. With luck, and no livestock crossings, we would just make it. Passing through an eyesore of a town called Lahinch, I caught site of its pittance of a rocky beach. For a moment I thought of the home waiting for us back in California, ten minutes from Santa Monica and Malibu’s smooth stretches of sand and ocean. Now those were beaches.

All of a sudden Bonnie called out, “Stop!”

Was she crazy? Had I heard right? Stop? We needed every precious second to make the ferry, or we’d end up staying in this godforsaken outpost. Stop? She couldn’t possibly be serious!

She could, and she was.

Dutifully, I pulled over with an oceanic sigh that could drown a country full of honeymooners. What could be so important that we should miss the last boat? Bonnie pointed to the sky and smiled back at me with a glow I will never forget. It was the sunset. Not just any sunset. This clearly was a masterpiece.

Getting out, we started over to the rocks along the shoreline. Arm in arm, we drank deep of a heavenly show of amber and golden hues, rose finger clouds painting the broad canvas of sky.

It was a moment of incandescence--and had my bride not been a chaser of sunsets, someone who was open to nature’s wonders, I would have missed it completely.

The bridge would wait another day. The Ring of Kerry wasn’t going anywhere. Bonnie and I inhaled the magnificent sunset like ambrosia. At its apex, sitting in silence, she turned to me, giving me a kiss that glowed from the inside out. Nothing I’d done as a teenager or as an adult had ever felt that full or complete.

Sunsets, and sunrises for that matter, are gifts served up in plentiful procession. It’s one of life’s ways of taking a simple pause, marking the day. If we’re too busy, caught in the whirlwind of our own manufacturing, we miss the magic. What is required in order to drink the heady miracle of morning or evening light is a consciousness of how we use the time allotted to us each day. We must be willing to open up room in our everyday schedules for what really pays dividends. This requires a simple and purposeful cessation of activity. Pausing for a moment, we willingly open our spirits to the gifts of the universe. These are indeed the gifts that help make life this good.

When we stop to open ourselves to the beauty of a sunset, we create an awareness of our own incandescence. We too burn with a shimmering flame.

As nature does, so we must mark time with a pause. If for no other reason that it all goes by too darn fast.

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