81: Sunset

100 Happy Days #81

It is 5:15pm. I pack up the studio materials, and prepare to cycle to the river to catch the beautiful sunset again. I’ve finally completed my glazing and now the outcome of my pieces is no longer in my hands. Whatever happens in their impending baptism of fire, I will have to accept it. Just like when one of my bowls broke during glazing – all I could do was grin and tell myself that my next piece will be much better. We often can’t control the things that happen to us – what we can control is our response, and the choices we make. And maybe that is what’s more important!

As I cycle along tousai no michi, I discover that it is now completely covered by fallen Sakura petals; its surface white as snow. The trees have started to sprout new green shoots, and very soon they will look to the untrained eye like just any other tree. It has only been a few weeks since began and yet the blossoms are so short lived. What a pity! But then I ask myself, if the sakura tree were to blossom throughout the year, would it still be so celebrated and revered? Perhaps it is that initial rush of excitement and splendor, followed by that inevitable sense of loss and longing, that brings an entire nation back to witness the sakura blossoms year after year.

I cycle on and soon reach the river. Across the bank, four highschoolers are practising their baseball throws. Sitting alone on my side of the river, I wonder why there is no one else here admiring this awesome sunset that has already started to paint the sky with a lovely wash of pink. As the sun slowly descends, my gaze falls on the building right opposite me. It is a hospital.

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Could anyone be looking out of their window right now, watching this sunset? It makes me a little sad to think that there are people in there for whom this could be their life’s very last sunset. For those who are very ill or old, would they look at the sunset with thoughts of regret? What about those just diagnosed with bad news? Or those going for an operation?

I say a quiet prayer for all of them, and thank God that for now, I still have good health. Looking at the sun that’s barely hovering above the ridge line, and then at the stark silhouette of the hospital in the foreground, I tell myself again that I must not waste any single bit of this life I have been blessed with. How can I, sitting here in good health and in the prime of my youth, allow myself to squander away this life in worry, or anger, or apathy?

The sky is bathed in a sea of red. The sun, that lone sakura flower in the horizon, calls out to me in a brilliant flash of color. Look at me, it says. Look at me, now, and remember that for this briefest of moments, I was here. And I was beautiful.

Then a gust of wind, and the sakura falls, ever so quietly, out of sight.

The sky turns a solemn shade of blue as the silver moon begins its watch. I look up and see an aeroplane overhead, making its way silently and resolutely across the sky, away from me.

Still chasing after the sun.

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