Last sunset of summer

Tonight, we drove the sun down across the high desert, vastness that is the lonely stretch of 287 between Lander and Muddy Gap. I watched it drift beyond the the horizon, glazed by California, wildfire like some magnificent ruby in the sky and I realized… this is the last sunset of summer.

It was beautifully, poignantly surreal.

I was deep in thought about this while my wife and I took turns trying to one up each other by singing loudly to each song on the radio and my boys held their typical, car ride, fart contest in the back seat.

It was somewhere between “Come Together” by the Beatles and the 17th giggle inspiring, back seat burrito bugle that I pulled the car to the shoulder and insisted upon a picture.

What I yearned for was something tangible to bookend the amazing summer that we had just had. Also, we desperately needed to air out the truck. But mostly, I was struck by the fact that the summer was ending as unceremoniously as it began and because we are creatures of order, it is important to punctuate the chapters of our lives.

“Get out” I told them, “and stand by that bunch of nothingness on the side of the road so that I can take your picture!”

They obliged, but only because they are too ridiculous not to.

The howling high plains wind, the fading light and the sprawling desert landscape… it was all so perfect. I doubt my ability to articulate why but here goes nothing…

The moment was real in a way that is beyond the methods by which we may build a compelling resume to justify our existence. There was no gravitas, no prestige nor glamor; just three smelly boys on the side of a desolate road in the middle of nowhere, making fart jokes and believing with unshakeable faith that this was the greatest moment in all of human history.

And it was.

It just sort of snuck up on us to be honest. We’ve done the things that are supposed to be amazing and more often than not, the hype outweighs the experience. It’s moments like this that are almost undocumentable that are the true treasure. Much like this infamous summer of 2020, the beauty was something that had to be earned and to that end there is a lesson to also be learned.

Be present. There is no substitute for actually living your life. Fear and regret make wonderful servants but terrible masters. Also, farts are and will always be hilarious.

So this last sunset of summer was pretty great but I think it is in fact the first sunset of this next school year and chapter of our lives. I hope to be present for every sight, sound and smell.