Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sunrises and Sunsets - Perception vs. Reality

Sunrises. Sunsets. They can be gorgeous visual experiences. But do you see what they really are? Or do you see what you were taught to see?

I once lived in a condo on the edge of Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach. Our backyard dock faced west, and after an afternoon shower we sometimes had what we called a "killer sunset." They were so dramatic we took picture after picture until the clouds went gray.

The most dramatic sunset I ever saw was on the big island in Hawaii after an afternoon rain shower. Clouds at six different altitudes were variously colored. Some were moving in different directions and at different speeds. A nervous waiter wanted me to order, but all I wanted to do was drink my glass of wine and watch the spectacle.

My wife, Kathleen, likes to say, "If you're not there when the miracle happens, you'll never see it."

Actually, the sun doesn't "rise" or "set." That's just a figure of speech, our traditional way of talking about what's happening. The problem is, this language tricks us into seeing the event the wrong way.

What's actually happening at sunrise is that the sun is slowly coming into view as Earth rotates from west to east at more than 1,000 miles per hour. By keeping this in mind, I've been able to experience "sunrises" from a more realistic perspective, sensing that I'm standing on the skin of our spinning planet as the surface rushes towards the morning sun.

I get a similar sensation watching the earth turn away from the evening sun. For me, perceiving an event realistically is a lot more exciting than perceiving it the way we've been taught to think about it.

If you have access to a view of the eastern or western horizon, try it sometime!

More about experiencing the sun for what it really is...

A reality check for "sun-worshippers"...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Beth said...

"sensing that I'm standing on the skin of our spinning planet as the surface rushes towards the morning sun." Wow, Denny. I agree. That IS a more exciting way of perceiving an already thrilling event.